Skip to main content

Writing Ideas for All Ages

March 30, 2020

Even with all this free time, it can still be tough to find the motivation to write or get our kids to write. Here are a few of my favorite writing prompts to get the pen to the paper.

Surprise! I love to write. I grew up writing little stories and lots of angsty middle school poetry. I even went to school for creative writing. So why is it so hard to write sometimes? My problem is usually two-fold: first, I need a little inspiration for what to write and second, I need a deadline. Now I can't really help y'all with a deadline, but I can offer up some great writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing. Whether you need a little help with homeschooling activities or just want some inspiration for your own writing, here are a few tried and true writing exercises.

Smash Up Jars

Become your own prompt generator! Set out three jars or bowls: a Who, a What, and a Where jar. Fill out slips of paper with options for each jar. For example, a who could be a cowboy or a realtor, and a what could be anything from running for office to running a marathon. The possiblities are endless and can be tailored to your specific tastes. Don't want to write about violent 16th century monarchs? Don't throw King Henry VIII into the mix. With this, you have a little control over what you'll write but it will still be randomized allowing for maximum imagination.

Famous First Lines

This is one of my absolute favorite exercises from school, and not just because I got paired up to work with the cute theater guy in our poetry class. Here you borrow first lines from famous works like "It was a pleasure to burn" from Fahrenheit 451, "All this happened, more or less" from Slaughterhouse-Five, and "Let us go then, you and I" from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. Sometimes beginning to write is the hardest part, and here you have a starting point. Be sure to veer away from the original content though since you don't want to copy someone else's work. The goal is to create something new and fresh from a classic.

Color Cards

I have a friend who is currently doing this and I love it so much I just had to share. You know those sample cards from the paint department of any store? Grab a few that really catch your eye, or pick out a few online that really speak to you and write them down, shuffle up your choices, and pick one to use in a creation. You could use the name of the color or the color itself to inspire a poem or a song or even a comic. It's quick, easy, and fun. I mean, some of those paint names are just too good!

And if you're looking for some daily inspiration, be sure to check out The Porch. They are offering daily prompts on their Twitter feed to keep Nashville writing: As always, happy writing!


Emily headshot thumbnail


Emily is the Branch Services Specialist at the Main Library. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and playing with her dog, Fern.