Fear of the Blank Screen.
I call this FOBS syndrome. It's everywhere. Every writer and aspiring writer knows this fear. What am I going to write about? Suddenly our minds feel as blank as the screen. We freeze up. Our palms sweat.
If this happens enough, we might even start to believe we have nothing to say. That we're wasting our time. We avoid the blank screen, we stop creating, and we shush the quiet voice in us that wants to be heard.
No. This will not do.
Writing prompts are the perfect antidote to FOBS syndrome. They're a gentle nudge in a useful direction, a way of getting rid of the overwhelming-ness of "write anything you want to!" By using a prompt to get your writing started, writing will feel more like play; you'll relax, have fun, and ideas will start to flow. I've seen it happen. It's like magic.
I want everyone to use writing prompts, and I want you to use good ones. That's why I've put together this collection of my favorites. These prompts are all student- or me-tested. They're fun and interesting. Some of them are nonfiction prompts; some are fiction; there's even a light sprinkling of poetry in here. They are all designed to show you that the blank screen (or page, if you're old school) is nothing to fear.
Alice Bradley is co-author of the nonfiction humor book Let’s Panic About Babies: How To Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant Who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy your Brain, and Finally Turn You Into a Worthwhile Human Being (St. Martin’s Press). She co-edited with Lee Gutkind the essay anthology Oh, Baby: True Stories About Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love (In Fact Books). Her essays and short stories have appeared in Redbook, The Sun magazine, and Creative Nonfiction, Nerve, Pank, Fence, and the Berkeley Fiction Review, among others. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in both fiction and nonfiction. She writes the blog Finslippy, which has been featured in the New York Times and on Good Morning America and Today, and she is co-host of the podcast The League of Awkward Unicorns. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School.