I know I’m always saying writers should get out of their comfort zones, but today I want to take a slightly different perspective.
While I firmly believe it’s essential to try new things, experiment with your voice and generally widen your writing horizons, there’s also a serene beauty in writing what you know.
You’re constantly surrounded by springboards for stories. They exist within the experiences you have every day, the memories you hold from yesterday, the things you’ll see tomorrow.
I believe you can happily embrace the things you know while still giving yourself the opportunity to try new things.
Stop and think whether there might be a story in some of these everyday prompts:
- How you came up with the name for your first pet
- Why you hated your Kindergarten teacher
- Rivalry with a sibling
- Where you thought babies came from
- Your first haircut
- That time you fell off your bicycle
- What you took when no one was looking
- Your first crush
- What you had hidden in your bottom drawer
- The secret you never told your best friend
- The book you read and re-read as a kid
- Where you went the first time you skipped school
- The moment when everything in your world changed
- How you felt when you went away to summer camp
- What you’re like when you get angry
- Who you think you really are, or could be
- What you sing when you think no one is listening
- What you were feeling when that photo was taken
- Where you go to be by yourself
- Who you secretly dislike
- Who you secretly love
- The person who meant a lot to you but you’ll probably never see again
- What you would do differently next time
- What you’d be ashamed to tell your parents
- How you really feel about your job
- What makes you the happiest
- Who you will be ten years from now
- Who you were ten years ago
- Your deepest fear
- What you heard out the window
- What you heard when you were eavesdropping
- What you most resent in life
- What you believe in
- Your greatest talent
- Your biggest weakness
- The place you’ve always wanted to travel to
- The person you find most difficult to understand
- The story your grandfather always told you
- What makes you the most embarrassed
- How you really feel about your friends’ kids
- The greatest disappointment of your life
- How other people would describe you
- What you hate most about the holidays
- The gift you were given that you pretended to like
- What you will always consider to be your home
- The song you listen to on repeat
- What you think about when you’re driving in your car
- What could have happened if you’d taken a different path
- Who loves you more than anything else in the world
- What you hope no one ever finds out about you
Of course, probably none of these would make good stories on their own, but they’re starting points. All you need is one open-ended thought to trigger the imagination.
Do you prefer to write about what you know, or do you like to challenge yourself to write on subjects you need to research?
How often do your stories arise out of something you’ve personally experienced?
Join the discussion
Steven Aitchison says
This is great Suzannah, there's a few in there that gave me an idea for articles for the blog.
Thanks Steve! Glad you got some inspiration here 🙂
Beth L. Gainer says
I love these prompts; many are things I've never thought about before. Also, creating the "short story" via blog helps create a longer length of work. There are stories hitting me everyday, more than I can even write about. Unfortunately, if I don't write an idea right away that comes to me, it's lost.
I know the feeling of these stories hitting you constantly, but then losing them. Have you tried keeping a little notebook and just jotting down a few key words to jog the memory? All day, no matter what I'm doing, I keep finding myself lost in bits of life that I should put in my stories, but they're gone long before I hit the computer. We really should make the most of the ideas by writing them down for later use!
Found you through a tweet:
" ProcrastWriter Jennifer Blanchard Nov 18, 08:12 AM Embrace Your Comfort Zone–50 Prompts For Writing What You Know: http://tinyurl.com/yfbznua "
I have retweeted, and I have subscribed via RSS.
Glad to see you found me 🙂 Thanks for your RT and subscribing, and I hope you learn a lot while you're here!
Christopher Jackson says
Going back to my comments on People Watching in your last post, totally agree with #31 🙂
Yes, good old eavesdropping. I don't think there's anything better for finding stories! Poor people don't even know we're preying on them like hungry wolves 😉
I almost always find my story ideas involve subjects and situations I have no real first-hand knowledge about but then as the story develops, I see how my own personal experience comes into play. I’m a keen observer of everything and curious to learn about what I don’t know. This is what excites me about writing. BTW, I hear the most interesting dialogue while eavesdropping in the supermarket. People have no idea how funny they really are when shopping for food!Also, I really want to thank you for this blog. I’ve been a silent subscriber and reposting your articles on Facebook for a few months now. I learn so much from you every day! Thanks, Suzannah!
Thanks Jen, I appreciate your support here and spreading the word about Write It Sideways! And yes, eavesdropping is the best 🙂
Laura Marcella says
These are wonderful prompts! I usually start my writing routine with a prompt, just to get the juices flowing, and sometimes it turns into a story. Thanks for this!
These are great – several I’ve never seen before. I’ll be linking to this from my weekly blog round-up later today. I hope lots of writers will find their way here.