Creative writers often use writing prompts to break through writer’s block or to come up with a new idea for a short story, poem, or novel. But what about writers of personal essays? At Writer’s Relief, we know it can be hard to brainstorm ideas when you’re writing creative nonfiction and are tied to facts and real life. To help you get started, our experts have put together a list of writing prompts and topics specifically for personal essays.
Personal Essay Writing Prompts And Topics
- Make a list of three-to-five physical locations that are important to you. Review the list, choose one of the places, and list all the experiences you can remember having there (if there are too many, simply make a list of the moments that stand out). Use these recollections as a guide to help you write about these memories.
- Browse the news headlines for something you feel pulled to or intrigued by. Think about how that story relates to your personal narrative, and write an essay that includes both stories. Consider how the news event and your personal memory are related or different and why both matter to you.
- Think back to a childhood memory, and reflect on how your perspective has changed as you’ve grown older. How did your viewpoint shift, and what happened to cause that?
- Tell a story about any event or moment or experience you’ve had (make sure to pick one with some substance), but do it in reverse chronological order. Notice the ways that messing with the order you tell the story in can allow for suspense, revelations, etc.
- Brainstorm five things you’ve learned in recent years: hobbies, life lessons—whatever comes to mind. Write a personal essay about one of these experiences and how it has affected your life.
- Try using a random word generator! Generate a list of a few random words, and then take each word and free-write a paragraph or two about how it might relate to something in your life. You may find the bones of something you can work into a full essay. If not, generate a few more random words—it’s a great way to think outside of the box.
- Write a set of instructions for an event or activity that typically wouldn’t have a manual but is important to you in some way.
- Try an activity that’s new to you. Take notes during or right after the experience, and then write about it. What happened? How did it make you feel? Did it bring up connections to any other moments in your life or inspire you in new ways? What did you learn?
Looking for more creative writing and personal essay ideas? You’ll find more great writing prompts here.
When you’re ready to submit your personal essay for publication, the research experts at Writer’s Relief can help. We’ll target the best markets for your writing to boost your odds of getting an acceptance. Learn more about our services, and submit your work to our Review Board today!
Question: What essay prompts have you used for inspiration?