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63 Best Memoir Writing Prompts To Stoke Your Ideas

You’re writing a memoir. But you’re not sure what questions or life lessons you want to focus on.

Even if only family members and friends will read the finished book, you want to make it worth their time. 

This isn’t just a whimsical collection of anecdotes from your life.

You want to convey something to your readers that will stay with them. 

And maybe you want your memoir’s impact to serve as your legacy — a testament to how you made a small (or large) difference. 

The collection of memoir questions in this post can help you create a legacy worth sharing.

So, if you don’t already have enough ideas for a memoir, read on. 

A Strong Theme

Overcoming obstacles, emotional storytelling, satisfying ending, examples of good starting sentences for a memoir , 63 memoir writing prompts , what are the primary parts of a memoir.

Though similar to autobiographies, memoirs are less chronological and more impressionable – less historical and more relatable.

Resultantly, they’re structured differently. 

With that in mind, let’s look at five elements that tie a memoir together, rendering it more enjoyable.

Biographies are histories that may not hew to a cohesive theme. But memoirs focus on inspiring and enlightening experiences and events.

As such, books in the genre promote a theme or idea that binds the highlighted happenings to an overarching reflection point or lesson.

Many people are super at sniffing out insincerity, and most folks prefer candidness.

So while exact dates and logistical facts may be off in a memoir, being raw and real with emotions, revelations, and relational impacts is vital. To put it colloquially: The best personal accounts let it all hang out. 

People prefer inspiring stories. They want to read about people overcoming obstacles, standing as testaments to the tenacious nature of the human spirit. Why?

Because it engenders hope. If this person was able to achieve “x,” there’s a possibility I could, too. Furthermore, people find it comforting that they’re not the only ones who’ve faced seemingly insurmountable impediments.

Readers crave emotion. And for many of the stoic masses, books, plays, television shows, and films are their primary sources of sentimentality.

Historically, the best-performing memoirs are built on emotional frameworks that resonate with readers. The goal is to touch hearts, not just heads.

In a not-so-small way, memoirs are like romance books: Readers want a “happy” ending. So close strongly. Ensure the finale touches on the book’s central themes and emotional highlights.

End it with a smile and note of encouragement, leaving the audience satisfied and optimistic.

Use the following questions as memoir writing exercises . Choose those that immediately evoke memories that have stayed with you over the years.

creative writing prompts for memoirs

Group them by theme — family, career, beliefs, etc. — and address at least one question a day. 

For each question, write freely for around 300 to 400 words. You can always edit it later to tighten it up or add more content. 

1. What is your earliest memory?

2. What have your parents told you about your birth that was unusual?

3. How well did you get along with your siblings, if you have any?

4. Which parent were you closest to growing up and why?

5. What parent or parental figure had the biggest influence on you growing up?

6. What is your happiest childhood memory?

7. What is your saddest or most painful childhood memory?

8. Did you have good parents? How did they show their love for you?

9. What words of theirs from your childhood do you remember most, and why?

10. What do you remember most about your parents’ relationship? 

11. Were your parents together, or did they live apart? Did they get along? 

12. How has your relationship with your parents affected your own love relationships?

13. Who or what did you want to be when you grew up? 

14. What shows or movies influenced you most during your childhood?

15. What were your favorite books to read, and how did they influence you?

16. If you grew up in a religious household, how did you see “God”? 

17. How did you think “God” saw you? Who influenced those beliefs?

18. Describe your spiritual journey from adolescence to the present?

19. Who was your first best friend? How did you become friends? 

20. Who was your favorite teacher in elementary school, and why?

21. Did you fit in with any social group or clique in school? Describe your social life?

22. What were your biggest learning challenges in school (academic or social)? 

23. Who was your first crush, and what drew you to them? How long did it last?

24. What was your favorite subject in school, and what did you love about it?

25. What do you wish you would have learned more about growing up?

26. What did you learn about yourself in high school? What was your biggest mistake?

27. What seemed normal to you growing up that now strikes you as messed up?

28. How old were you when you first moved away from home?

29. Who gave you your first kiss? And what do you remember most about it?

30. Who was your first love ? What do you remember most about them?

31. Was there ever a time in your life when you realized you weren’t straight? 

32. Describe a memorable argument you had with one of your parents? How did it end?

33. Have you lost a parent? How did it happen, and how did their death affect you?

34. What was your first real job? What do you remember most about it?

35. How did you spend the money you earned with that job? 

36. At what moment in your life did you feel most loved? 

37. At what moment in your life did you feel most alone?

38. What do you remember most about your high school graduation? Did it matter?

39. What’s something you’ve done that you never thought you would do?

40. What has been the greatest challenge of your life up to this point?

41. What did you learn in college that has had a powerful influence on you?

42. How has your family’s financial situation growing up influenced you?

43. How has someone’s harsh criticism of you led you to an important realization? 

44. Do you consider yourself a “good person”? Why or why not?

45. Who was the first person who considered you worth standing up for?

46. If you have children, whom did you trust with them when they were babies?

47. Did you have pets growing up? Did you feel close or attached to any of them?

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48. Describe someone from your past whom you’d love to see again. 

49. Do you have a lost love? If yes, describe them, how you met, and how you lost them. 

50. Describe a moment when you made a fool of yourself and what it cost you. 

51. What is something you learned later in life that you wish you’d learned as a child?

52. How do you want others to see you? What words come to mind? 

53. What do you still believe now that you believed even as a child or as a teenager?

54. What do you no longer believe that you did believe as a child or teenager?

55. When have you alienated people by being vocal about your beliefs? 

56. Are you as vocal about your beliefs as you were when you were a young adult ?

57. Are you haunted by the consequences of beliefs you’ve since abandoned? 

58. How have your political beliefs changed since you were a teenager? 

59. Have you ever joined a protest for a cause you believe in? Would you still? 

60. How has technology shaped your life for the past 10 years? 

61.Has your chosen career made you happy — or cost you and your family too much?

62. What comes to mind if someone asks you what you’re good at? Why does it matter?

63. How is your family unique? What makes you proudest when you think about them?

We’ve looked at the elements that make memoirs shine. Now, let’s turn our attention to one of the most important parts of a personal account: the opening sentence.

We’ve scoured some of the most successful, moving memoirs of all time to curate a list of memorable starting sentences. Notice how all of them hint at the theme of the book.

Let’s jump in.

1. “They called him Moishe the Beadle, as if his entire life he had never had a surname.” From Night, a first-hand account of the WWII Holocaust by Elie Wiesel

2. “My mother is scraping a piece of burned toast out of the kitchen window, a crease of annoyance across her forehead.” From Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger, foodie Nigel Slater’s account of culinary events that shaped his life.

3. “Then there was the bad weather.” From A Moveable Feast , Ernest Hemingway’s telling of his years as an young expat in Paris

4. “You know those plants always trying to find the light?” From Over the Top: A Raw Journey of Self-Love by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s beloved star, Jonathan Van Ness

5. “What are you looking at me for? I didn’t come to stay.” From Maya Angelou’s masterpiece, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , the story of persevering in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles

6. “I’m on Kauai, in Hawaii, today, August 5, 2005. It’s unbelievably clear and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.” From What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, a memoir about the fluidity of running and writing

7. “The soil in Leitrim is poor, in places no more than an inch deep. ” From All Will be Well , Irish writer John McGahern’s recounting of his troubled childhood 

8. “The past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time.” From Educated , Tara Westover’s engrossing account of her path from growing up in an uneducated survivalist family to earning a doctorate in intellectual history from Cambridge University 

9. “I flipped through the CT scan images, the diagnosis obvious.” From When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, the now-deceased doctor’s journey toward mortality after discovering he had terminal cancer

10. “Romantic love is the most important and exciting thing in the entire world.” From Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, a funny, light-hearted memoir about one woman’s amorous journey from teenager to twentysomething

Final Thoughts

These memoir topics should get ideas flooding into your mind. All you have to do, then, is let them out onto the page. The more you write, the easier it will be to choose the primary focus for your memoir. And the more fun you’ll have writing it. 

That’s not to say it’ll be easy to create a powerful memoir. It won’t be. But the more clarity you have about its overall mission, the more easily the words will flow. 

Enjoy these memoir writing exercises. And apply the same clarity of focus during the editing process. Your readers will thank you. 

Best Memoir writing Prompts

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🖋 50 Impactful Memoir Writing Prompts to Get You Writing TODAY

If you’re thinking about writing your memoir but facing a blank page, I have a few great memoir writing prompts that will get you writing TODAY . Let’s do this! ⚡️

Writer’s Block? Nah!

Creative writing prompts are useful tools for unlocking memories so you can get your life stories onto the page. I have a deep respect for the creative process, and I’m a fan of creative writing prompts because they work. They’re a diving board into your memories, helping to unlock past experiences you may have forgotten. If you struggle with writer’s block, memoir prompts are more like the well-meaning swim coach that gives you a purposeful nudge, right into the water. Once you’re in, you’re in! 🏊🏻‍♀️

Writing is an intuitive process, and this is especially true for memoir . It can be helpful to think about specific memories or moments in your life that were particularly meaningful to you. Other times, it can be helpful to focus on a specific theme or area of your life that you would like to explore in your writing. Don’t be surprised if you end up pivoting in a different direction, too. If you stay open, the story you are meant to write will reveal itself to you (this might sound silly, but it’s been true for me and all the books I’ve written ).

Creative writing prompts can be a warm-up to the actual writing, or the writing itself. You can decide the shape of your memoir once you know what you’re writing about and have generated enough material that can serve as the foundation of your memoir. You can smooth your prose and make everything cohere into a memoir everyone will want to read. 🤗

But right now? Get writing.

Using Creative Writing Prompts

Creative writing prompts and writing exercises that help you write your memoir by providing structure and ideas to get you started. They offer simple but thoughtful questions to help you excavate the stories that are wanting to be discovered. ⛏

Prompts can be as simple as asking you to describe a significant event in your life, or they can be open-ended, like asking you to write about a specific theme or feeling. Sometimes you’ll end up writing about something completely different than the memoir prompt, and that’s okay. Trust wherever it takes you.

The more writing you do, the more memories will get unlocked. Not only that, but a little bit of writing each day adds up to a lot of writing if you just keep going . And as an added bonus, you’ll be developing your writing skills with each prompt you write. 🏋🏻‍♀️

Memoirs are a great way to share your life story with the world. These prompts will help you get the most out of your writing and get your creative juices flowing.

Why Memoir Writing Matters

Memoir writing as a creative process that serves the writer and ultimately the reader. 🤓

For the writer, writing our personal narratives is a way to remember and process our own life experiences, to help us understand the significant events of our lives that helped shaped who we are. Writing these stories down can be a source of comfort and healing, providing a space to reflect on our past and make sense of our present. They offer a creative outlet for exploring our thoughts, feelings, and memories, and are a great way to connect with our past selves.

For the reader , memoirs can be a source of inspiration for others, offering a glimpse into someone else’s life and providing hope, motivation, and insight. I’ve always viewed memoir as proof that we’re not alone, that others have been through similar experiences and can relate to us. Great stories help us appreciate what we have in the present moment, and offer compassion for ourselves and others.

What are Some Good Memoir Topics to Write About?

Unless you already know what you want to write about in a memoir, and it can be difficult to know where to start. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Some good topics include your childhood, your family and friends, your education and career, your hobbies and interests, and any significant life events. These topics can also be used as creative writing prompts to help you get started on writing your memoir, even if you plan to focus on something different.

Most memoirs have a specific theme. Check out this free printable list of 125 themes from my book, Writing the Hawaiʻi Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story  (Watermark Publishing).

Memoir Prompt Writing Tips

Before you begin, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Be honest and raw

Be honest with yourself and your writing. Don’t worry about putting on a show or looking perfect. Don’t start changing family members’ names because you’re worried they’ll get mad. Remember that no one is going to see your work at this stage unless you show it to them.

Experienced memoir writers know it takes many drafts to get to a polished manuscript, but you have to start at the beginning, and beginnings are usually pretty messy. Give yourself permission to write without any inhibitions — no censoring of your words or thoughts. Just get it down, and then decide what to do with it once you’re finished. If you really hate it or feel horribly embarrassed, you can always toss it out. But you probably won’t. 😉 

Write by hand

When it comes to writing prompts, I’m a strong proponent of writing by hand. Before you panic, you’ll only be doing this for ten minutes (see below), and there’s a connection that’s made between the brain and the page when you write by hand. I do most of my writing on my computer — I’m a fast typist and a fast thinker, so I prefer to have my fingers on the keyboard … except when I’m responding to a prompt. Something important happens when we write by hand, and it gets missed when we’re on the computer or on our phones.

If you’re not convinced, try it for one week and see what happens. 👋🏼

Establish a daily writing practice

When you decide you’re going to write, a daily practice helps keep you on track. Have a writing process in place ensures that you get the writing done, and with each day that passes, you become a better writer.

Some memoir writers swear by Julia Cameron’s morning pages , which I love but don’t always have the time to do. My recommendation is to set the bar low — begin with writing ten minutes a day. Choose a prompt, set the timer, and keep your hand moving (thank you, Natalie Goldberg ). When the timer goes off, stop.You can spend another 10 minutes revising and reshaping the work, or you can put it aside to rest.

If you do this daily, you’ll have 365 individual vignettes by the end of the year (366 if it’s a leap year). Whether you choose to use them in your memoir is up to you, but these are excellent starting points and you’ll usually find some gems in there, which you can submit individually to literary magazines or string together into a collection of personal essays or narratives.

The most important thing is to write, and write daily. 📆

Tell a story and give us details

Every memoir tells a specific story the writers wants to share. Memoirs are not a recounting of every fact or statistic of your entire life like an autobiography or biography, but a glimpse into a particular moment.

I like to use the example of a photograph — sometimes what is outside the frame is just as important as what’s inside the frame. Use sensory details to bring us in the moment with you. What’s happening?

When you’re ready, and once you’ve selected the pieces you want to spend time on, you can revise your work. This will give you a chance to do a deeper dive into whatever it is that want to say, and shape the work for a reader. But again, you don’t have to worry about that now, just be assured that you can “fix” whatever you need to fix, later. 👩🏻‍🔧

Fountain pen on paper.

Mem oir Writing Prompts & Ideas

Let’s get started! Use the following memoir prompts to get your creativity flowing. These open-ended prompts are very flexible so choose at random, switch them up, make them yours. Use them as a starting point, trust the process, and GO. 🏃🏻‍♀️

  • The Alphabet Autobiography (similar to the abecedarian poetic form). You’ll write one sentence of line for each letter of the alphabet, from A to Z. Start with the letter A, and think about something (or someone) in your life that begins with A. It doesn’t have to “important” — don’t overthink it. Go with whatever comes up first, and keep going until you reach the end of the alphabet.
  • Write about a family heirloom.
  • What were the cartoon characters of your childhood, and which one did you identify with?
  • Write about your first best friend. 
  • Not everyone has owned a pet, but we all have animal companions in some form. Think stuffed animal, class pet, a totem animal. Write about the first one that comes to mind.
  • Write about a favorite teacher. 
  • What’s the first thing you did this morning? 
  • Have you ever had a near-death experience?
  • Write about your first love.
  • What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in high school?
  • What is the best memory you have of a place you traveled to?
  • When was the last time you saw a relative you don’t know very well? Tell us what you think about them. How are they related to you?
  • Tell us about your favorite article of clothing. Where did you get it, why do you love it, what does it say about you?
  • What was the first thing you ever bought yourself?
  • What is your favorite gift you’ve ever given (or received)?
  • Who do you love to spend time with? Why?
  • Think of a time you lied.
  • Think of a time when you stole something.
  • Think of a time when you laughed so hard, you cried.
  • Think of a time when you felt triumphant.
  • Think of a time when you were completely and utterly in love.
  • What was the worst day of your life?
  • What’s your favorite season? Why?
  • What’s your favorite holiday? Why?
  • When you were the happiest you’ve ever been?
  • When you were the saddest you’ve ever been?
  • What is one of your most vivid memories of your parents?
  • When was the last time you felt jealous?
  • Write about a random act of kindness someone did for you. 
  • What is your favorite smell?
  • Write about your name. What does it mean? Do you have a nickname? Does it suit you?
  • What is something no one knows about you?
  • Tell us a recipe that you make by heart. How did you learn it? How often do you make it?
  • Did you have a comfort object growing up? What was it, and when did you need it?
  • Write about a recurring dream.
  • When you look in the mirror, what feature do you notice first? Write about that.
  • What was the first place you ever traveled to?
  • How has your worldview changed since you were a child?
  • What was your first car?
  • When was the last time you went swimming?
  • What’s a job would you would love to do?
  • How many siblings do you have, and what are their names?
  • Tell us about your favorite kind of sandwich.
  • Write about your scars.
  • What’s your go-to cocktail?
  • How many times have you moved in your life?
  • Describe the house you grew up in.
  • How many tattoos and piercings do you have, and why did you get them?
  • Write about the last time you were in nature, and what happened.
  • Write about a camping trip.

More Great Resources

  • Read this post,  10 Tips on How to Write a Book About Your Life , for an overview of the writing process.
  • Read this post, Top 10 Must-Read Books on How to Write a Memoir , which features books by some great writers of the genre.
  • Want to know when I add more prompts? Join my newsletter ! 💌

Become a Writer Today

127 Best Memoir Writing Prompts You’ll Love

Memoir writing requires dedication and talent to describe critical points of your life. See our memoir writing prompts to inspire you to make your own.

So you finally decided to put your life on paper. Writing a memoir and sharing it with others is a great way to immortalize your achievements, failures, and lessons. 

However, you might find it hard to decide which areas of your life to focus on. Because a memoir requires themed occurrences, you can’t make it a compilation of narratives from the moment you were born. As memoir coach Marion Roach Smith told us in a podcast interview , your memoir must be honest and also impart something valuable to readers. 

How To Use These Memoir Writing Prompts

The process, memoir writing prompts, what are good topics for a memoir.

How to use these memoir writing prompts?

Memoir writing is personal. It involves sensitive information such as personal and family history. So, be careful to only pick highlights in your life that you are comfortable sharing. At the same time, these key events should be those you think your readers will find interesting.  

Memoirs don’t need to be chronological, nor should they read like an autobiography. These non-fiction pieces don’t need to include everything in your life. Memoirs can center on one colossal event and are primarily created to share lessons that inspire and encourage. Use the prompts below to get an idea of what to include in your memoir.

We’ve written extensively about writing prompts before. Here, you can read through our list of prompts and choose those closest to your experiences for a memoir. Pick as many as you want. Then, evaluate which ones you find most relatable. Continue this process of elimination until you have a foundation of what you want to include in your memoir.

  • What’s the story behind your name?
  • Talk about your first love. It can be a person, a thing, or a feeling. 
  • Identify your proudest moments. Give details on how you felt during those times.
  • What would you say to your older or younger self if you had the chance?
  • If you can delete a memory, what will it be? Why?
  • Recall a time when you’ve been in an accident.
  • What’s your earliest memory?
  • Talk about the worst day of your life.
  • Narrate an event you feel already happened, like a deja vu.
  • Describe your childhood room in detail.
  • Detail a situation when you feel betrayed. What did you do, and how did you handle it?
  • If you have traumas or illnesses, share how you got them and discuss your recovery story.
  • What were you afraid of when you were a child, and why? Are you still scared of it today?
  • Talk about an occasion when you were terrified to do something but still did it.
  • How did your first date go? What’s your ideal first date?
  • List three ways people always describe you. Why do you think they describe you as such?
  • Identify your worst insecurity and why you got it. What are the steps you’re taking to overcome it?
  • Write about winning something.
  • Talk about your first heartbreak. It can be about a past lover or a failed endeavor.
  • Who’s your favorite teacher? Why?
  • What’s your worst fear?
  • Describe the most beautiful art you’ve seen.
  • What are your quirks?
  • What are you most grateful for today? Why?
  • Have you ever had a spiritual or religious experience? Expound on it.
  • What are your most valuable possessions? Why?
  • List three of your worst phobias. Share your worst experience concerning these fears.
  • Talk about your hobbies and how you got them. If you have a hobby from childhood that you carried to your adult life, what are they?
  • Talk about the most memorable holiday you’ve had.
  • Share an experience where you feel the most embarrassed.
  • Recall a time when you met a terminally ill person. How did their life philosophy affect you?
  • What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made? What did you do to mitigate or correct it?
  • Talk about any experience you have with the supernatural.
  • Talk about an unforgettable memory you had with your mom or dad.
  • Recount your experiences growing up with strict or devout parents.
  • Describe your worst physical pain and share the story behind it.
  • Describe your relationship with your siblings.
  • Recall a time when you had a meltdown. What were the events that led up to it?
  • Talk about the funniest incident you’ve witnessed.
  • Talk about a time when you were dirt poor – no money, no friends, and no motivation.
  • List five of your all-time favorite songs. What memories do you connect to these songs?
  • Talk about your first job. How did it go, and what did you learn from it?
  • Narrate how your graduation went. Include what you felt and who you celebrated it with you.
  • Describe the most beautiful wedding you’ve attended.
  • Talk about when your experiences with racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination.
  • Is there a period when you feel lost? Share what you felt and how you overcame it.
  • What’s the first school memory you can recall?
  • Talk about the time when you hated yourself the most.
  • Recount a time in your life that you consider a fresh start. Compare the person you were before and after this new beginning.
  • Talk about the happiest day of your life.
  • What’s the most shocking event you’ve experienced?
  • What part of schooling did you hate the most?
  • Talk about the origin of a lie you still present as truth today.
  • What is your dream job? Recount your experiences during the period when you strived to get that dream job.
  • Walk around your house and look for items that trigger your consciousness. Relay the memories connected to these items.
  • Recount the story of your birth. How did your parents or guardian describe it?
  • Think back to a time when you had to make an important decision. What did you pick, and how do you feel about it today?
  • Talk about your greatest regret.
  • Narrate an encounter where you were stereotyped based on your gender.
  • What skill are you most proud of, and how did you develop it?
  • Talk about your favorite childhood toy and share a prominent memory of it.
  • Is there a family secret you wish you didn’t know? What is it, and why?
  • If you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community, share your journey to discovering and understanding your sexuality.
  • Look back to your past expectations of yourself. How different are they from your current goals?
  • If you have an experience with a grave disease, share your life before and after your diagnosis.
  • Recount your experiences and lessons as a first-time parent.
  • If you’re a war veteran, narrate your first-hand experiences during your service.
  • Speak about the meaningful experiences you’ve had in your job or career. 
  • Talk about a time when you had to break the law to survive.
  • Recall a time when you were pushed to be the leader of a group or a project. How did it go?
  • Pick the largest scar on your body and share how you got it.
  • Talk about something you’ve gone through that you pretend never happened. Include how you finally faced and pulled through this tribulation.
  • If you have any tattoos, talk about their meaning/s.
  • Describe the moment you realized you’ve matured or grown up.
  • Describe what you expect your retirement to be like.
  • Talk about a book you deeply feel connected to.
  • Talk about your favorite photo of yourself and the story behind it.
  • Recount the day when you got your first car.
  • What did it feel like when you moved out of your family home?
  • Describe your childhood home and pick your favorite areas. Explain why.
  • Recall an incident when your feelings were hurt the most.
  • Talk about an experience that made you believe in extraterrestrial life.
  • What vegetable do you hate the most? Share a memory of when you realized you hate that food.
  • If you’ve had a poor relationship with food, share your struggles with eating, weight, and self-concept.
  • What do you do when you feel sad? How do you lift your mood?
  • Talk about how you met the best people you know today.
  • Do you have unique family traditions? What are they, and what do you feel about them?
  • Tell the story of how you met your current partner.
  • Talk about your different friend groups. What memories of them do you like the most?
  • Describe your parents’ dynamic. How did their relationship affect your perception of love and marriage?
  • Recount the most intense argument you’ve had with someone close to you. Include why the fight happened and how you solved it.
  • Identify your greatest personal challenge so far and elaborate on it.
  • Talk about a time when your family prepared for a death of a loved one.
  • Recount the period after losing a loved one. Talk about your grief, mourning, and how you coped with the death.
  • Talk about how you started and achieved success in your field. Add tips to help aspiring beginners of the craft.
  • If you’re from a broken marriage, share how the separation affected you growing up. Include your struggles with your identity, self-respect, etc. 
  • Talk about a time when you were falsely accused of something.
  • Have you ever joined an organization? Share your most memorable experience with the group.
  • Share your experience with a natural calamity, such as an earthquake or a hurricane.
  • Talk about the first year of your marriage to your current partner. Include your realizations, compromises, and adjustments.
  • Discuss a relationship you’ve been in that made you a better person. For example, you can speak about a toxic or a healing relationship.
  • Talk about a rare habit one of your friends or relatives has that you find amusing.
  • Talk about a major change you had to go through in your life. How did you cope with it, and what did you learn?
  • Speak about a time when you were addicted to something.
  • Talk about a time you felt the closest to your mother or father.
  • Recount an incident that pushed you to cut ties with someone special to you.
  • Narrate the story of how a grandparent imparted a vital life lesson to you.
  • Talk about your celebrity idols and how they influenced your life.
  • Talk about your best friend and how the two of you became close.
  • Did you have a school bully? Recall the worst thing they did and how their actions impacted your school life.
  • Talk about a family feud. How did it start, and how did the dispute affect you?
  • Discuss a life-or-death situation you’ve been in. How dangerous was it, and how did you survive it?
  • Talk about your best traveling experience that changed your perception of life.
  • Talk about a time when you feel powerful or unstoppable.
  • Write about a bizarre encounter you’ve experienced.
  • Talk about your political beliefs and why you support these beliefs.
  • Write about a time when you felt a place is hunted. Share the details of your trip.
  • Try to describe your hometown in vivid detail. What’s one thing you remember the most about your hometown?
  • Write about a historical event that greatly affected your life. What is it, and how did it change your everyday living?
  • Pick one memory you strongly associate with each: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
  • Think of a time when you had to choose between two good things. For example, love or career, then talk about your experience.
  • Recall the most memorable adventure you’ve had. 
  • Talk about an instance when you saved someone. 
  • Talk about your experience when you moved to another country.
  • Talk about the time when you met your childhood hero.
  • Recount what happened when you had your first child.
  • Think of your first major loss. Explain what it’s about

Childhood Memories : Remember when you climbed that giant oak tree in your backyard or had your first heartbreak in middle school? Your early years are a goldmine of raw, evocative memories. Delve deep, and you might be surprised at the rich tales you can tell. If it helps, read old journal entries .

Overcoming Adversities : Have you ever faced a daunting challenge? Perhaps you battled an illness or overcame financial hardship. These experiences shape who you are and resonate with readers who seek inspiration and hope in the face of their own struggles.

Travel Adventures : That backpacking trip across Europe, or the time you got lost in a bustling market in Bangkok? Travel stories transport readers to a different world, filled with sights, sounds, and cultural nuances.

Relationship Dynamics : Love, friendships, and even the intricacies of family dynamics can make for poignant memoir material. Dive into the beauty, the pain, and the lessons learned from the people who’ve come in and out of your life.

Professional Life : If you’ve built a unique career or made significant shifts in your profession, these experiences might intrigue those looking to understand the ins and outs of a particular field or those seeking motivation to change their own career paths, like a writing job .

Personal Transformations : Did you embark on a journey of self-discovery, perhaps through spirituality, weight loss, or even a simple hobby that grew into a passion? Sharing such personal evolutions can be deeply moving.

Historical or Cultural Insights : If you’ve lived through significant historical events or come from a rich cultural background, offer readers a window into that world. Paint them a picture of a time or place they might never personally experience.

Life in the Shadows : Maybe you’ve had experiences on the fringes of society or in lesser-known subcultures, for example triathlon training. Shedding light on these areas can be both enlightening and captivating.

Educational Pursuits : Remember when you returned to school or pursued an unconventional educational path? There’s always someone out there wondering if it’s too late or if they’re on the right path.

Mundane Magic : Sometimes, the simple, everyday moments hold the most beauty. The smell of your grandmother’s kitchen, the laughter shared over a family dinner, or the quiet moments alone with your thoughts. Celebrate the ordinary; it often holds extraordinary stories.

If you’re still stuck, get the best memoir-writing apps to assist you.

creative writing prompts for memoirs

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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Home / Book Writing / Topics for Memoirs: 50+ Ideas and Prompts to Get You Started

Topics for Memoirs: 50+ Ideas and Prompts to Get You Started

The memoir is a popular type of nonfiction writing that's often associated with celebrities, business leaders, and politicians. However, you don't need to be any of the above to write a good memoir.

Most people develop, over the course of their life, interesting experiences, expertise, or hardships that could interest others. But how do you know you have a good idea for a memoir? Better yet, how can you come up with a good memoir idea ?

Well, read on to find out as we discuss topics for memoirs. 

  • What sets memoirs apart from other nonfiction.
  • Tips for writing a compelling memoir. 
  • Memoir writing prompts. 

Table of contents

  • What is a Memoir?
  • Open With a Hook
  • Structure it Like a Novel
  • Read Many Memoirs
  • Inspirational Memoir Ideas
  • Confessional Memoir Ideas
  • Comedic Memoir Ideas
  • Nostalgia Memoir Ideas
  • Travel Memoir Ideas
  • Other Memoir Writing Prompts
  • Position Your Memoir for Success

Before we go any further, let's get on the same page. A memoir is an exploration of a certain topic or subject with which the author has experience. This sets the memoir apart from the autobiography , which is typically a look at the author's entire life (or at least the interesting parts). A memoir, on the other hand, only explores certain aspects of the author's life that have to do with the topic or theme at hand. 

Memoirs also read like fiction books. There's a cast of characters, and the protagonist is almost always the author. They have a similar tone and style to fiction books, as well, which is one reason people read them. In fact, some memoirs have been known to skirt the line between truth and fiction ( A Million Little Pieces , anyone?). 

That said, you should strive for truth in your memoir. But you'll also probably leave some stuff out by necessity. In other words, you don't need to tell all about the boring stuff. 

How to Write a Good Memoir

Memoir writing doesn't have to be hard. In fact, some writers may find it easier than writing a story about fictional characters. After all, the memoir will be about your own life and experiences. Here are a few tips to help you get started. 

Grabbing the reader from the beginning is essential for any memoir (or novel, for that matter). There are a number of ways to do this, and the type of story you plan to write will often dictate how it’s done. You can start with humor, action, conflict, or strong emotions. Don’t be afraid to combine more than one of these factors. 

But no matter how you start the book, you’ll want to ensure you write from the heart and stick to the truth as you remember it. If you write with emotion and keep it compelling, the reader will be happy to go on the journey with you for the rest of the memoir. 

Thinking of the structure of your memoir as that of a novel is a great way to craft a compelling narrative. Try your best to have the reader identify with you early on, while also setting up the central conflict of the story. 

Each scene should advance the story, add character development or depth, or support the overarching theme of your memoir. All the better if a scene does more than one of these things!

As is the case with writing any other type of book, you'll want to be very familiar with other people's memoirs. You can't expect to know what readers expect from a good memoir if you don't read them yourself. Luckily, there are a ton of different memoir subgenres you can dive into. Some are funny, some are heart-wrenching, and some are informative. Here are some suggestions for excellent memoirs to check out. 

Augusten Burroughs has written several successful memoirs. The most notable of these is Running With Scissors , which was even made into a movie. But he has written other memoirs, including Dry and A Wolf at the Table . 

David Sedaris is another well-known writer in the memoir genre. Unlike Burroughs, Sedaris typically releases books that comprise a collection of essays on a certain topic. The personal essays in his books are memoirs of a kind. 

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist who has written what is known as graphic memoirs. Similar to a graphic novel, her book Fun Home is a memoir in illustrated form. 

Some other memoirs you may have heard of include:

  • Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

For more practical advice, check out the essay How to Write a Memoir by famed nonfiction writer William Zinsser. 

Memoir Writing Prompts

Now that we've covered some broad-strokes writing tips for memoirs, let's dive into some memoir ideas. I've split the following prompts into some overarching memoir categories, but this is not to say that you need to keep any given idea in that category. You can take any prompt that strikes your fancy and apply a different theme to it. 

By definition, your memoir will be very personal. It will be uniquely yours, but if done well, it will also give other people entertainment, insight, and value. After all, a memoir is just a long personal essay. Keep this in mind as you read the following ideas. 

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If you have stories that can touch and inspire, then this may be the theme for you. Overcoming challenges makes for great reading. 

1. Think of the hardest thing you've ever had to do in your life. How did you overcome the challenge? Did you do it by yourself or with the help of friends, family members, a spouse, your kids, etc.?

2. Have you ever had a profound religious or spiritual experience? If so, what prompted it?

3. Have you ever had to deal with a life-or-death situation? Did you keep your cool when others were panicking? What did you learn and how did your life change after the situation was over and you had time to reflect?

4. If you were able to go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say? 

5. What is the single most important life experience you've had? Why?

6. Write about the one thing that makes you different from everyone else. How has this difference affected your life, and where would you be if you weren't different?

7. Love is something everyone can relate to. Describe meeting your partner or your trials and tribulations in the world of finding and losing love. 

8. Have you lived through any specific historical event? If so, how did it change your life or affect your view of the world and the human race?

9. Have you devoted your life to a specific field of expertise? With all your knowledge of your specific industry, start a personal narrative that explores how your expertise has influenced your life. 

10. Recount the greatest adventure of your entire life in detail. Why was it so great, and how did it change the course of your life?

Confessional memoirs intrigue readers because the authors share their dirty little secrets. However, most of the time, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. 

11. If you've ever dealt with addiction of any kind, a personal memoir could help other people who are dealing with something similar. 

12. Most industries have a dark underside that doesn't often make the news. If you've been in a position to see this underside, it could make for a good memoir.

13. If you've done something interesting — like working with the homeless or at-risk teens — then your experiences could make for a good confessional memoir. Of course, you'd need to get permission to write about specific people first. 

14. People who have lived a life of crime are in a unique position to write a compelling memoir. True crime is a popular concept across all media, and a true crime memoir could certainly do well. (Of course, I'm not suggesting you commit any crimes just so you can write about them.) 

15. Is there something you've had to deal with, such as a mental or physical illness? Writing about it could be a way to help others with their own struggles. 

16. Traumatic encounters can also make for impactful memoirs. Of course, writing about any kind of trauma can be difficult, but if you feel up to it, you may consider this kind of memoir. 

17. Growing up is hard. If you had a particularly tough or unique time while shedding your childhood and donning adulthood, it could be of interest to future generations. 

18. People are often interested in those who have different experiences from them. Whether you're an African American growing up in the United States or a disabled person navigating through life, try to pinpoint what makes you unique and discuss how it has impacted your life. 

19. Confessional memoirs don't need to be as dramatic as crime or trauma. They can be as simple as mistakes you've learned from. Consider writing about a time when you made a mistake or did something that you are not proud of. Reflect on what led up to the event, how it affected those around you, and how you learned from it.

20. Like mistakes, secrets and your reasons for keeping them can also make for a good memoir topic. Write about a secret that you have kept for a long time. Consider the reasons why you felt the need to keep it hidden. How has it affected your life, and what have you learned from the experience of keeping it hidden?

While confessional memoirs are often serious reads in which the author bares their soul, comedic memoirs often deal with similar issues but with a very different tone. Readers seek these out to laugh and revel in the lives of others.

21. Were you a class clown in middle school, high school, or college? Did you get up to silly hijinks that landed you in the principal's office? If so, a humorous tell-all could be the creative writing project of your dreams. 

22. Everyone's family is pretty strange. But some are certainly stranger than others. If you can look back on your formative years and laugh, you might just have the right attitude for a comedic memoir. 

23. Some of the best memoirs are about family members. Maybe you had a brother or a sister who was zany or simply uniquely funny in their own quiet way. Writing a memoir about how your close family member kept the dark times light and the light times infused with laughter is a fun undertaking. 

24. Sometimes it takes a while to “grow up” and start adulting. And there are certainly potholes along the way. If you have some cringe-worthy stories from living, loving, and learning, then your embarrassment could mean hours of entertainment for your readers. 

25. Trying and failing at something can provide some of the best life lessons of all. Maybe you went to LA to become an actor, or you tried your hand at sports with hilarious results. By making light of your failures, you can help people not take their own so seriously. 

26. Kids say the darndest things. No, I'm not talking about the show, but it's a good example of the kind of memoir you could write if you have raised or been around kids in any capacity. Not only are they funny, but they can teach us how to retain some magic in our own lives. 

27. Humor is certainly a coping mechanism. And while there's a fine line between poking fun and making fun, there's some room in the comedic memoir genre for discussing things like your relationship to food, entertainment, and even exercise. These are the things of life, and with a little creative writing, they can make for fun reading. 

28. Do you work in an industry dominated by the opposite sex? Or in an elite industry where only a few “make it”? Exploring anecdotes from your unique point of view can make for awkward, embarrassing, and funny writing. 

29. Everyone has experienced some hard times in their life, but not everyone can see those things in a positive light. Using humor, write about the hardest moments you've lived through, giving them a comedic twist from your perspective today. 

30. Was there ever a time in your life when a kind word or a silly joke brought you out of a dark place? Write about the power of kindness and laughter in your life. 

Nostalgia memoirs are attractive to readers because they often remind them of their own childhood or experiences. Other readers may pick them up to see what the world was like in a certain time and place. 

31. Growing up in small-town America — with white picket fences and a mailman who stops to chat — is a rarity these days. If you had this kind of upbringing, your experiences could transport readers back in time for an entertaining and inspiring journey. 

32. We relate to the world through stories. And the ones we enjoyed as children often hold a special place in our hearts. If you can relate movies, shows, or books you enjoyed growing up to the person you've become today, it could make for a great memoir. 

33. Music is the soundtrack to our lives. And a memoir that ties popular and classic songs to important events in your life has the potential to be a bestseller!

34. Did you attend Woodstock? Were you there for the Million Man March? Events like these — even those as recent as 1995 — can make for great memoirs. Life was different then, and much has changed. But our love for a good story hasn't. 

35. Write about a significant event or period of your life, and reflect on how your perspective and feelings about it have changed over time. What do you miss most about that time, and what do you appreciate about your current stage of life?

People like traveling almost as much as they like stories. And these kinds of memoirs combine both. It's a way for readers to experience other parts of the world vicariously through the author's eyes. 

36. A year-long trek across Europe. Riding a bike across America in a year. Living in hostels for a year. If you've ever done anything like this, get to writing!

37. Have you ever been injured or stranded in a foreign country? If so, you could write a thrilling memoir that details your experiences, the people you met, and how you managed to get back home. 

38. Snow storms, flash floods, or broken limbs. A lot can go wrong out in the wilderness. If you've ever had a close call or a harrowing experience like this, a piece of narrative writing detailing it could be in order. 

39. You can learn a lot about the world and about people by traveling. Experiences, both good and bad, can be interesting to the average memoir reader. And any life lessons you've learned along the way will certainly add depth to your memoir. 

40. If you've ever been to Antarctica or the Sahara, Everest or Kilimanjaro, your experiences could make for great reading!

Many published memoirs are a collection of essays that are all related by theme. So these are the nonfiction equivalent of short story collections. Don't feel like you need to write one long story for your memoir. You can write several stories on different topics and then publish them as a collection. The following writing prompts can help you do just that. 

41. Write about an epic journey you took. 

42. Write about the time you realized what was really important in life. 

43. Explore the topic of love — both platonic and romantic — and how it has influenced your life. 

44. What is the one life lesson you wish you had learned earlier? Why?

45. Write about the person who has had the greatest impact on your life. 

46. Explore discipline and how your life would be without it. 

47. Talk about big changes in life — from childhood to adulthood or middle age to old age — and impart lessons to those who will be going through the same thing. 

48. If you've ever been through a divorce, explore its impact on your life. 

49. Talk about your hobby and how it has had a positive (or negative) effect on your life. 

50. Explore ways you've tried to help others during your life. 

When you have your memoir written and ready to publish, you’ll need to think about positioning it for success on the biggest online bookseller out there: Amazon. And the easiest way to do this is with Publisher Rocket .

You can think of the information you get from Publisher Rocket as the foundation for your writing career . You get insights directly from Amazon on:

  • Keywords – Metadata to position your memoir on Amazon.
  • Competition – Allowing you to see what other memoirs are selling well and how stiff the competition is.
  • Categories – Allowing you to position your memoir in the right categories and subcategories to increase your chances of success.
  • Amazon Ads – Helping you quickly configure a list of profitable keywords for running ads to your published memoir.

I hope these memoir writing prompts help get your creativity flowing. Don’t forget to check out Publisher Rocket here to use data to sell your finished book!

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When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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Self Publishing Resources

Best Memoir Writing Prompts—16+ Ideas That Will Inspire You

  • July 29, 2022

Memoirs are autobiographical accounts of one’s life story. They can cover an entire life or focus on a few significant events in a person’s life. 

They include the author’s memories, intimate thoughts and feelings about their past, and significant life experiences.

They may tell a story of the author’s secret past, the ups and downs of their love life, the most influential person in their lives, or significant life lessons one has learned through a life lived.

We write memoirs not only for others to read but to help ourselves form a narrative around our life stories.

Writing about past experiences and the personal narrative that went with them offers much insight. Writing about a time filled with struggles has even been found to help process trauma.

As far as inspiration goes, we’ve got you covered. Below we’ve included a list of over 16 memoir writing prompts to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing.

If you’re stuck, don’t fret – it’s not easy to summarize a life story the moment you sit down to write. It may take time, reflection, and inspiration before you can even begin to know what to write about. 

How to write a memoir

Writing a memoir requires reflection and contemplation on one’s past experiences. These should take place before the writing process and are often the reason a person feels inspired to write a memoir in the first place. 

Still, the memoir writing process is also incredibly reflective, and an author may gain insights and perspectives they never had before as a result of the writing process.

So, if you’re ready to get started on your memoir, check out the prompts below.

Memoir writing prompts and ideas

There are many possible focal points of your memoir . You can write about a time when life was sweet or you can write a powerful memoir which has made it difficult for you to live in the present moment.

Here are some suggestions of major life events to you can draw inspiration from:

1. Your first romance

Write about the first romantic partner you ever had. How did you meet them? How old were you? What was unique about your relationship? Did you end up with your first crush?

If you’re not with that person anymore, how did things end? Was there a memorable argument which led you to end the relationship? Did you ever see them again?

2. Near-death experience

Have you ever had a near-death experience? What happened, and how did you survive? Describe your experience. What was the significance of that moment? Did it give you a new outlook on life? Or was it a novel experience that lost significance after the initial event?

Memoir prompts, memoir ideas

3. A day with your younger self

You don’t have to write memoirs chronologically, and you don’t have to confine yourself to writing exclusively about the past. Get creative by imagining that you, as you are now, can visit your younger self.

Choose any age, child, teen, or adult, and write about a day spent with that younger version of yourself. What would you tell them? Do you have insight and wisdom now that would have helped the younger you?

Consider a time in your life when you had to make an important choice. Perhaps all options were exciting and viable before you, but you had to eliminate all but one.

What decision or choice did you make, and how do you feel about it now? How do you think your life might have been had you made a different choice? Perhaps you chose one romantic partner over another or decided to live in a different country from where you were born.

5. Your earliest memory

What is your earliest memory? How old were you and who was there? How do you feel about that memory now? Do you remember it fondly, or is it a painful memory? Was it something you think defined your character, or is it simply a fun and adored memory?

6. Childhood

What was your childhood like? Write about the household in which you grew up.

Was it a happy household, or was there a lot of trouble? Did you grow up with two parents and siblings, a single parent, or were you an only child? How did your parents relationship mold your character?

How do you feel about how you grew up, and do you ever wish things had been different? How do you think your childhood influenced the person you are today?

How was your experience in high school? Write about elementary school, high school, or college. Did you like school? Do you have a favorite teacher who has greatly influenced your life today?

What were the good parts, and what were the bad ones? How was your social life in high school? How do you feel about the education system? Do you think it served or hindered you?

8. Spirituality

If you’re spiritually minded or religious, write about your life’s experience from your spiritual perspective? Have your thoughts on God, religion, and spirituality changed?

What attitude did you hold when you were younger, and how do you see things now? Were there any significant events or an influential person that shaped your spiritual beliefs and perspectives?

9. Best friend

Write about your relationship with the best friend you’ve ever had.

Are you two still friends today? How did you two get to know each other, and what experiences have you shared? How do you feel about that friendship and friendship in general?

Did that person set a standard that no one else could ever meet? Did you two ever fight? How is the relationship now?

10. Regrets

Do you have any regrets? Perhaps you made one choice over another and now see it as a mistake. Did you hurt anyone in your life and wish you go back and change things?

Alternatively, write about how you feel about regret as a concept by relating your perspective to your experiences. Do you think there is any value in regret? Did you regret things once but no longer?

11. Unlearning

What did you learn as a child that you had to unlearn as an adult?

Perhaps the behavior of your parents or other family members taught you that particular conduct was expected, but you realized how abnormal it was when you left home. Do you understand why that person behaved, or are you still confused? Do you forgive those who taught you unhealthy behaviors?

Memoir Writing Prompts, memoir ideas

12. Gratitude

What makes you feel grateful? What life experiences, good or bad, happy or sad, joyous or nightmarish, taught you to look at life through a lens of gratitude? Have you always been grateful, or is gratitude something you learned later in life?

13. Sexuality

Write about the journey of discovering your sexuality.

Did you realize at some point that you had sexual preferences you weren’t clear about previously? Have you always had the sexual preferences you have now or had for most of your life?

Write about the process of discovering your sexual self and the trials and tribulations that came with it.

14. Expectations

When you look back on your life, did it turn out how you expected when you were younger? Did you have an idea or vision of how your life would turn out at a certain age?

As a child, in your teens, twenties, or thirties, how did you imagine the life ahead of you? Is your life now an accurate portrayal of that vision, or is it different? How different is it?

15. A big impact

Write about a time you hugely impacted another someone’s life. What happened, and what is your relationship with that person now? Alternatively, write about a person who greatly influenced your life? Again, what happened, and what’s that relationship like now?

16. Life lessons

What’s the most important life lesson you’ve ever learned? What happened in your life for you to understand that lesson?

Is this lesson something you have tried to share with others? Do others hear that lesson the same way you do? Does it resonate with others? How do you think your life might have been if you had never learned that lesson?

A memoir is a deeply personal account of memories that the author, the memoir writer, believes influenced their life and is worthy of sharing with others. They are more than just a whimsical collection of stories and anecdotes, though you’re free to write with a sense of humor about your experiences.

As a writing exercise, start with a short story using one memoir writing prompt. Something about first time you set eyes on your first love will be easy. A bit more challenging memoir topic will be your family history.

If you want more help with writing your memoir, consider reading those of others. Writers of all kinds need to be avid readers to hone their craft. 

Reading others’ memoirs not only shows how to structure your writing but can also inspire you to look at your own life through a reflective and insightful lens.

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  • How to write a story
  • How to write a novel
  • How to write poetry
  • How to write a script
  • How to write a memoir
  • How to write a mystery
  • Creative journaling
  • Publishing advice
  • Story starters
  • Poetry prompts
  • For teachers

59 Memoir Ideas

56 memoir topics.

  • being a parent
  • your parent
  • your grandparent
  • a sister or brother
  • a sport or game that's been important to you
  • a trip you took
  • a particular job
  • your career
  • something you collect
  • an unusual talent
  • dieting or fitness
  • your cultural heritage
  • your relationship to nature
  • a school you went to
  • your college or university
  • summer camp
  • a disability
  • an accident
  • an addiction
  • the death of someone close to you
  • adolescence
  • becoming an adult
  • a book or movie that changed your life
  • a work of art that changed your life
  • a teacher or mentor
  • an important friendship
  • a spiritual or religious experience
  • a change in your economic situation
  • a decision to change some aspect of your life
  • a place where you lived
  • a place that was special to you
  • a move to a new place
  • another major life change
  • the effect of war on your life
  • another historical event that impacted your life
  • a dangerous situation you survived
  • something you did to help others
  • military service
  • something you accomplished
  • a topic you research as a hobby
  • discrimination you have faced
  • someone who was a great inspiration to you
  • a mission or quest

3 Memoir Prompts

Memoir ideas - next steps.

  • Get more memoir prompts.
  • Join our online course on memoir writing.
  • See a list of pages about how to write a memoir.

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The Write Practice

10 Memoir Writing Prompts to Get Your Life Story Started

by Joe Bunting | 0 comments

Want to write a memoir but not sure how to get started? I've got you covered. In this post, I'm sharing my ten best creative writing prompts for memoir writers.

Top 10 Memoir Writing Prompts

If you need a quick prompt, check out my five favorite memoir writing prompts below. Or, keep reading for an expanded list of all ten prompts.

My 5 Favorite Memoir Writing Prompts

Write about a life or death situation you've experienced.

  • Describe your own meet cute. Think back to the first time you met the love of your life.
  • You've traveled through time and encounter a younger version of yourself. What life lesson would you share?
  • What is one moment where you were afraid to do something but did it anyway?
  • Write about one encounter with death.
  • Read on for more!

Use These Memoir Writing Prompts to Get Started

Ready to write a book about your life? Get started by using these prompts. Then tell us which prompt you chose and share up to 250 words of your writing in the practice link below.

2. Area of Expertise

Make a list of every area of expertise you have, e.g. writing, playing an instrument, the history of 18th century French history, etc. Then choose one of those areas of expertise and write for fifteen minutes about what you've learned about that expertise. Begin every paragraph with the phrase, “I learned . . .”

3. Meet Cute

Describe your own meet cute. Think back to the first time you met the love of your life. Describe the situation and how you felt the first time you saw them.

4. Betrayed

Share the story of one time you were betrayed.

Have you ever encountered death? Either the death of a loved one, animal, or stranger? Write about your encounter with death and how you experienced it.

6. Adventure

What is the biggest adventure you've ever experienced? Write about it.

7. Life Lesson

You've traveled through time and encounter a younger version of yourself (choose one of the following ages: seven, fifteen, seventeen, twenty-three, or thirty-one). What life lesson would you share with yourself? Tell yourself the story of how you learned that lesson.

8. Surroundings

Describe your surroundings right now. What memories do your surroundings evoke?

9. Life or Death

10. too much good.

Think of one moment in your life when you had to choose between two very good things, like love or money, fun or responsibility, happiness or duty. Then write about it.

Become a Better Memoir Writer by Reading a Great Memoir

One of the best ways to learn how to write a memoir is to read  memoirs. And it just so happens that I've written a memoir, Crowdsourcing Paris , about a real-life adventure story I experienced in Paris. Even better, according to reviewers, it's really good!

See what people are saying about Crowdsourcing Paris here .

Inside the memoir are the adventures I experienced in Paris, including my near-death experience in the catacombs, the illegal 170 miles of tunnels below the City of Light.

Throughout the memoir, I also share my writing lessons as I learn to become a writer in Paris.

Get your copy of  Crowdsourcing Paris  here.

Which of these memoir writing prompts is your favorite? Let us know in the comments !

Choose one of the memoir writing prompts above. Then set a timer for fifteen minutes , and write as much as you can.

When your time is up, post your practice in the Pro Workshop here (if you’re not a member yet, you can join here ).

And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to at least three other writers.

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

How to Write a Memoir: How to Start (and Actually Finish) Your First Draft

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Lori Ballen

Digital Marketing Strategies

75 Memoir Writing Prompts

Writing / November 17, 2022 by Lori Ballen / Leave a Comment

This website contains affiliate links and offers that benefit Lori Ballen with no additional cost to you.

A memoir writing prompt is a question or set of questions designed to guide an author in writing their memoir. Memoirs are non-fiction books usually written by one person about his/her life. They are written in the third person (“he”/”she”) but are told from that person’s point of view, looking back on their life. It can range between 30,000 to 100,000 words, depending on the material covered and how much space it takes up.

Memoirs generally include personal history, family background information, and key events throughout an individual’s life, leading them up to where they are today. The actual writing of a memoir is not always chronological; some elements may be written before others even though they happened after them. Some memoirs end up with their author at old age, while others do not.

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Memoirs are usually written because the author has something to share, lessons they’ve learned throughout their life that could benefit or inspire others. While money is not always a main motivating factor for writing a memoir (most authors receive no royalties), the satisfaction of sharing one’s story and hopefully connecting with readers who can relate to it makes it worth it.

There are many types of memoirs; anyone could write about his/her experiences as long as they have something interesting to say. The following are just some examples:

  • Drug addiction/recovery
  • Child abuse/childhood hardship
  • Experiences in war
  • Interpersonal relationships (parents, siblings, spouses, friends)
  • Growing up in a foreign country
  • An unconventional childhood
  • Loss of a loved one/grief and recovery from it

Memoir writing prompts are questions that help guide someone when they begin thinking about their own memoir. Without prompts to get them started, an individual may struggle to find the exact angle he/she wants to use to tell their story in a way that keeps readers interested until it is finished. Prompts help them flesh out ideas and formulate sentences and paragraphs.

Here are 75 of the best memoir Writing Prompts.

1) Write an essay about a time when you felt lost.

2) Write a short story of a time in your life when you leaned on someone else for help.

3) Write down everything you know about your family history.

4) Imagine that you are writing a letter to the person who has been the biggest inspiration in your life. How would you describe them? What makes them so special?

5) Write about a time when you went with the flow and didn’t question it too much.

6) Remember something embarrassing that happened to you, but it’s OK if others already know about it—what matters is how YOU feel about it.

7) Think of three words or phrases people use to describe you. Now, think of three words or phrases that best describe you.

8) Your memoir is about a time when people thought something bad was going to happen, and they were completely wrong! What happened?

9) Write down your earliest memory; make sure it’s not too fuzzy and doesn’t include any major life events (like sibling birth, etc.) because we want this to be just about YOU.

10) What is one thing that everyone in your family does that irritates or annoys you? How do they react when you tell them how it makes you feel?

11) If there’s one person in your family who can always cheer up someone else in the family, even when no one else can, who is that person, and why do they have such a “special power”?

12) Describe a time in your life when you were truly uncomfortable. What happened?

13) Think about what’s been going on throughout your life for the past month or so. Write it all down. Now go back to the beginning of that same period of time and write it all down again but from a different point of view, with a completely different perspective—as if you had only just found out about everything that’s been going on.

14) Think about something really embarrassing that has happened to you more than once in your lifetime. How have you dealt with these instances, and how did others help you?

15) Write about a time in your life when something felt familiar, like deja vu.

16) Think of the most popular game you played as a child; write about it and why people played it.

17) Describe three different apartments or houses that you’ve lived in throughout your life—not necessarily nice ones but just any kind of living space that was your own at one point.

18) Make up an old family recipe for dinner. What’s in it? What is its origin? Did anyone teach you how to cook it or did you learn on your own? How does this dish make you feel whenever you eat it/think about eating it again?

19) Write about an instance when you were uprooted from your home.

20) Think of a person who always seems to have it together, in both big and little ways. Do you ever ask them for advice? What are some things that person would say/do if he/she knew about this memoir project? Now, write about the last time you saw that person and everything that was going on in your life at the time: how did they react?

21) Think about the members of your family and rank them (1st place, 2nd place, etc.). Why did you choose these specific people? How do they make you feel whenever you spend time with them or think about spending time with them again in the future?

22) Think about all the places you have lived in throughout your life. Write them down in order or rank them, starting with your present location. How has every place made you feel? Why did you choose to live in each one?

23) Pretend that someone else is writing a memoir about you—what would they want people to know about how the two of you are alike and also what sets you apart from everyone else?

24) Talk about an instance where something was entirely out of your control. What happened?

25) Write about a time when something really unexpected happened. How did it change things for your family or friends or anyone else who was involved in whatever transpired?

26) Think back on all the people you’ve met throughout your life. What did you like most about them? How did they make you feel?

27) Think of all the birthdays that were celebrated in your family growing up (your own included). Did anyone ever get more presents than anyone else, or was it always equal? Who gave out the birthday parties and why did they do it this way?

28) Which person in your family would be the best person to give advice about almost any major life decision someone could make if he/she had all the facts surrounding said decision beforehand? Describe him/her.

29) What’s one thing that never fails to cheer you up when you’re feeling down in the dumps?

30) Write about a time that you were excluded from something or someone.

31) Think about your first big fight with one of your siblings and how it all got started.

32) Write about a time when you had to be more responsible than usual (for example, taking care of younger siblings while your parents were away).

33) Make up some family trivia: for example, what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to one of your relatives? What is his/her worst habit? What makes him/her happiest in life and why?

34) Think about an instance where everything seemed “right” or at least OK; things were calm and relaxed. Describe that moment as best as you—how did it make you feel?

35) Think about the worst day of your life . What was going on that day, or what happened leading up to it?

36) All great memories come from somewhere—write down all the places, good and bad, that you’ve lived in throughout your life. How have they helped shape who you are today?

37) Make a list of all the things you wish you’d done differently growing up—not necessarily big ones but little ones too. Why is this list so important to you?

38) Write about a time when everything seemed perfect for a specific reason (for example, maybe something happened at school/work that made everyone happy). Everything just seemed to fit into place. What would keep that feeling going?

39) Think about an important discussion (or series of discussions) that took place in your family growing up. What was the topic? How did that affect everyone’s feelings or relationship with one another moving forward?

40) Write about a time when you were faced with the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make (remember, it doesn’t have to be related to something big like deciding whether or not you should leave home for college). Why was this so difficult for you and what ended up happening as a result of it all?

41) If someone asked your parents what is most important to them about their life together right now, what would they say is most important to them? Would they mention anything in particular about you, their child?

42) What is your biggest regret? If you could go back to a time in the past when you still had this regret but knew what you know now, would there be anything that you would change about how it all went down and unfolded? Why or why not?

43) How did growing up influence your dreams at night and what did they mean to you moving forward into adulthood?

44) Think of all the people who’ve come into and out of your life over the years. Have any of them truly made an impact on who you are today—positively or negatively? How so? What’s one thing that they taught you along the way (whether by example or through words)? Why is this important to you?

45) Describe all the places that you’ve lived. What were some of your favorite places to visit as a child? Why did you like visiting them so much and what was it about those locations that made you feel this way? (Note: if you haven’t lived in many different places, write about one location or one trip instead.)

46) Think back on the past five years of your life. How has this changed how you see yourself now compared with before? What memories do you have from this period of time and specifically, why are they sticking out more than others right now?

47) If someone asked your parents what is most important for them in their relationship with one another right now, what do you think they would say? Why is this important to them right now?

48) Who has been the most influential person in your life so far—and why? What has this person taught you, if anything?

49) Imagine that you are meeting with a group of new people for the first time. Describe each one of these people as best as you can (how they look, what their interests are, what they’re passionate about). Now imagine that at least one of these people ends up being part of your life moving forward. What do you think will happen between the two of you now that you’ve met each other and now know each other’s personalities, interests, etc.?

50) Is there anything special or unique about the place where you grew up? What makes it special—and why is this important to you?

51) How have your past experiences made you who you are today?

52) Think back on all of your high school or college memories. Which ones stand out the most right now, and why do they stand out in your mind more than others? What did you learn from each of these memories that helped shape how you see yourself now compared with before everything happened?

53) Write about a time when something happened that changed everything for some reason (like an argument, someone moving away, etc.)…but instead of trying to make sense of what happened, focus on how it felt afterward. Why did things happen the way that they did? What was the aftermath like in terms of how it changed this person’s life and day-to-day routine and how it made them feel about certain things in life in general?

54) If someone were to ask your parents what is most important for them right now, what would you want their response to be? Why is this important to you?

55) Think back on all of your favorite memories from over the years. How has this changed how you see yourself now compared with before? What do these memories mean for who you are today and why is this so special to you when you look back at everything that happened long ago when compared with something that happens today?

56) Choose a season (winter, spring, summer, or fall) and write about why this season is important to you. For example: maybe you like spring because it’s your birthday, or fall because it’s the beginning of a new school year…or winter because of Christmas Eve traditions with family and friends.

57) Think back on all of your favorite memories from over the years. How has this changed who you are now compared with before? What do these memories mean for who you are today and why is this so special to you when you look back at everything that happened long ago compared with something that happens today?

58) Is there anything particularly special about where you’re from? Why is it important to be from here—and even if not, what makes your hometown special to you and why?

59) Is there anything special or unique about the place where you live right now? What makes it stand out compared with other places you could be living instead, and why is this important to you that things are the way they are right now?

60) How have your past experiences made you who you are today?

61) If someone were to ask your parents what’s most important for them in their relationship with one another right now, what would they say? Why is this especially important to them at this point in time when asked directly about it rather than how it can be inferred from some of their actions or certain conversations they’ve had together recently?

62) Is there anything particularly special about where you’re from? Why is it important to be from here—and even if not, what makes your hometown special to you and why?

63) Think back on all of your favorite memories from over the years. How has this changed who you are now compared with before? What do these memories mean for who you are today and why is this so special when you look back at everything that happened long ago when compared with something that happens today or is happening right now in the present moment?

64) Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. No matter how hard we try, certain things happen anyway. Write about an instance where this seems especially true…perhaps one where it feels like nothing was done about what had happened despite everyone’s best efforts or maybe something that was avoided but continues to have repercussions in the present.

65) Is there anything particularly special about where you’re from? Why is it important to be from here—and even if not, what makes your hometown special to you and why?

66) Write a letter of advice to a current version of yourself. What’s one thing they should know right now when going through difficulty or hardship?

67) Describe a situation in your life when something happened that changed everything for some reason (like an argument, someone moving away, etc.)…but instead of trying to make sense of what happened, focus on how it felt afterward. Why did things happen the way that they did? What was the result when all was said and done? Why does this story matter to you when compared with other stories in your life?

68) Sometimes we want something that someone else also wants, and then we end up in a conflict over it. Or maybe there’s something that one of us doesn’t like or is made uncomfortable by—and the other person doesn’t care about it at all! Write about a conflict like this in your life with another person. How did things turn out, and what would you do differently if you could go back in time knowing what you know now after the fact?

69) Think back on all of your favorite memories from over the years. How has this changed who you are now compared with before? What do these memories mean for who you are today and why is this so special to you when you look back at everything that happened long ago compared with something that happens today?

70) Sometimes it’s hard to know what path we should take in life. When faced with a big decision, how do we make a choice about what’s right if everyone else seems to have their own opinions as well? How can we be sure that making our own choice instead of just going along with someone else will benefit us in the long run rather than having an outcome that feels negative or disappointing in some way?

71) Describe a situation in your life where there was a conflict and what happened as a result. How did it feel when this was happening? What were the various ways to resolve the conflict before everything started to turn out badly?

72) Think back on all of your favorite memories from over the years. How has this changed who you are now compared with before? What do these memories mean for who you are today and why is this so special when you look back at everything that happened long ago when compared with something that is happening right now in the present moment?

73) Sometimes being kind is taken advantage of or misinterpreted by others, resulting in feelings of negativity or resentment toward someone else. Write about an experience like this—perhaps one where they’re being overly kind to the point where you want to just say, “Stop!” Why is it so important that they truly understand what being kind means?

74) When is a time you were glad that you trusted your instincts and when have those instincts been wrong? What was going on in your life at the time—and how might things have turned out differently if you hadn’t listened to your gut feeling about something or someone?

What do these memories mean for who you are now compared with before?

75) Think of all of the people who have come into your life. In most cases, the most meaningful interactions seem to be those that develop slowly. What would need to happen for this type of meeting to occur here?

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66 Creative Memoir Ideas to Beat Writer’s Block

POSTED ON Jan 17, 2023

Jackie Pearce

Written by Jackie Pearce

Few things beat a gripping memoir that pulls in the reader and tells a fascinating story.

However, it can be hard to come up with ideas for a memoir or to think about what to include.

This guide will walk you through some memoir ideas so you can beat past writer's block and start to tell your stories.

What Are The Main Parts of A Memoir?

While a lot of memoirs are completely different, there are often common threads that bring them together.

Some things include:

  • Emotional vulnerability . We read a memoir to understand someone's perspective and what they went through. If you're closed off and not sharing your truth, people won't want to read it.
  • A theme that goes through the book . There's usually some kind of underlying theme that ties the whole memoir together .
  • Comedy mixed in with heavy content . This isn't always the case, but if you can find ways to tie in funny stories along with your heavy stories, it can create a wonderful reading experience.

Memoir Ideas

Ready to get started on your memoir? Let's go over some quick and easy ideas for you so you don't forget a thing.

#1 – Tell a story about a trip you took that changed your life. Whether it was the people you met or the place you went, travel can bring so much to someone's life.

#2 – What were some of the key romantic relationships in your life? Whether they lasted a long time or a short time, there are probably some that played an impact.

#3 – If you've been through a divorce, you can talk about that experience. Or maybe the divorce of someone close to you.

#4 – How did school play a role in your life?

#5 – Outside of school, what do you continue to learn about or pursue as a passion?

#6 – Did you ever have a pet that left a lasting memory? Can you use nostalgic writing to tell a moving or inspiring story?

#7 – How has the health, or the health of the people in your life, changed your life? Did anyone have a serious health issue you had to help with?

#8 – Death is a hard thing to go through. Talk about the passing of someone who heavily impacted your life.

#9 – Did you ever see a movie that changed your life? Or is one you'll never forget?

#10 – Are you a parent? How has it changed you as a person?

#11 – In relation to the above, you could also write about your own parents. What it was like to live with them, where you grew up, what they taught you?

#12 – What book had the biggest impact on your life overall?

#13 – When were you the most afraid in your life? What did you learn from that time?

#14 – Do you have any notable people in your family or bloodline? Where did your family originate from and how do you feel about your culture?

#15 – What is a family tradition you love? What is one you despise? What kind of traditions do you want to pass on?

#16 – Who do you wish you could forget you ever met in your life?

#17 – What is a day in your life you'd like to live over and over?

#18 – Do you have a hobby that has been a major theme in your life or brings you a new perspective?

#19 – Talk about religion and spirituality in your life. How has it shaped your life and worldview?

#20 – Was anyone in your family in the military?

YouTube video

#21 – Write about the most interesting person you've ever met? What makes them that way? Have they changed how you think about life?

#22 – Who inspired your life the most?

#23 – What is your strongest belief? What makes it so strong?

#24 – What was the hardest lesson for you to ever learn? What made it that way?

#25 – What is something that makes you emotional to talk about?

#26 – What have you learned about yourself?

#27 – How do you like to make the people around you feel?

#28 – What kind of people do you like to surround yourself with?

#29 – Write about your favorite season or your favorite memory from a season .

#30 – What would you want your kids to know most about who you are and your life?

#31 – What was the most memorable food in your life? Food plays such an interesting role in families and communities.

#32 – Did you have a childhood toy you'll never forget?

#33 – What was the worst day of your life?

#34 – What do you wish the whole world understood?

#35 – What do you still hope to accomplish with your life?

#36 – How would you summarize your life into one word?

#37 – If you could only tell one story in your life, which one would it be?

#38 – Did you ever take drastic action to change your life? Maybe you got a health diagnosis or maybe you decided to finally pursue that passion project.

#39 – What was the biggest risk you've ever taken?

#40 – What are you the most proud of doing?

#41 – What place in the world do you love the most? Or had the biggest impact on you? Do you wish you lived somewhere else or could go back to a place?

#42 – What still makes you upset to think about?

#43 – What is your greatest weakness?

#44 – What is your greatest strength?

#45 – Write about your biggest success and your biggest failure.

YouTube video

#46 – What birthday celebration will you never forget?

#47 – What was the most dangerous situation you lived through and came out the other side?

#48 – What fictional character played the greatest role you have ever seen?

#49 – Who is your favorite family member, and why?

#50 – Talk about your siblings, if you have some.

#51 – What is the most memorable gift you've ever received?

#52 – Talk about a time you had to change your mind about something.

#53 – What bothers you the most?

#54 – Talk about your biggest faults and mistakes you've made in your life.

#55 – What teacher or mentor played a key role in your life?

#56 – Who did you lose touch with that you regret doing so?

#57 – Write about your happiest memory.

#58 – Were you into music growing up? Talk about a live music event you saw you remember most.

#59 – What was the most memorable thing you did for someone else? Did they know you did it?

#60 – Has a historical event shaken up your life? Maybe war altered your entire family plans or where they could live.

#61 – Did money play a huge part in your life, your stress, your family, and so on? Money can be a loaded topic, but it can play a much bigger part than people think.

#62 – What friends were in your life that you'll never forget? Are they still in your life? Is there someone you wish still was?

#63 – Have you ever seen a piece of art that moved you?

#64 – Have you ever had an exciting experience in nature? Do you wish you had a greater connection to nature or are you happier out of nature?

#65 – Did you have an important or life altering job? Whether it was for the better or for the worse, talk about it and your experience. What did you learn?

#66 – Were you involved in sports growing up? How did it play an impact on your life?

creative writing prompts for memoirs


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  • Writing & Editing

Creative Writing Prompts 101: The Ultimate Guide to Inspire Your Next Story

Creative Writing Prompts 101: The Ultimate Guide to Inspire Your Next Story

Creative writing prompts can be an invaluable tool for writers, providing inspiration and ideas when you’re stuck in a rut. Whether you’re a writer trying to come up with the perfect plot twist or a poet looking for new ways to express your feelings, creative writing prompts can give you the spark of creativity that you need. So if you’re looking for some fresh ideas and inspiration, keep reading to find out more about creative writing prompts!

Writing is an art form that allows us to express ourselves in countless ways. But sometimes it can be difficult to think of something original and unique. That’s where creative writing prompts come in! They provide writers with topics and themes that they can use as a springboard for their own work. From fantasy stories about magical lands to poFrequently Asked Questionsignant memoirs about personal experiences, there are tons of writing prompts out there to get your creative juices flowing.

No matter what your genre or style is, there are probably plenty of creative writing prompts that will help inspire your next story or poem. So if you want to explore new avenues of creativity or just need some help getting started on a project, don’t hesitate to check out some of these amazing resources!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is an expression of thoughts and ideas through the written word. It can be used to tell a story, share an opinion, describe a feeling or emotion, or evoke a certain atmosphere. Creative writing can take many forms such as poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and playscripts.

As with any type of writing, creative writing requires practice and dedication. Writers must learn how to craft their work in order to successfully convey their message to readers. They must also establish a style of writing that resonates with them and their audience. This could involve playing around with language and structure or experimenting with different genres and topics.

Creative writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit but it doesn’t have to be that way. Collaborating with other writers can open up new possibilities for creativity and help develop your skills further. Additionally, seeking feedback from trusted sources can help refine your work even more and provide valuable insight into how it's being received by readers.

By dedicating yourself to becoming a better writer and engaging in meaningful dialogue about your work, you can take your creative output to the next level.

Creative Writing Prompts for Beginners

When it comes to creative writing, prompts are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. They can provide inspiration and help to kickstart your writing process. For those just starting out in the field of creative writing, finding effective and interesting prompts can be daunting. That's why we've put together this list of creative writing prompts for beginners!

The first type of prompt is what's known as a "word prompt." This type of prompt is basically a single word or phrase that you use to inspire your own writing. It could be anything from an abstract concept such as "loneliness" or "hope" to more specific ideas like "a train station" or "a summer day." The idea here is that you take this word or phrase and build your story around it.

Another type of prompt is something called an “image prompt.” This means that instead of giving you a single word, the prompt provides you with an image that has to serve as the basis for your story. An image could be anything from a photo of a person looking out into the distance to a painting of a landscape or even just an object like an old clock. Again, it's up to you to take this image and build a story using it as your source of inspiration.

Creative writing is all about having fun with words and letting yourself express your creativity without any restrictions. With these two types of creative writing prompts – word prompts and image prompts – beginning writers have plenty of options when it comes to getting their stories off the ground!

How to Use Creative Writing Prompts

Using creative writing prompts can be a great way to get your creativity flowing and help you come up with new ideas. While it may sound daunting at first, once you get the hang of it, it's one of the most rewarding activities out there. Whether you're an experienced writer or a beginner, these tips will help you make the most out of your creative writing prompts.

The first step is to look for something that stands out to you in the prompt. It could be anything from a phrase or word to an image or character. Once you've identified what stands out to you, spend some time thinking about why this element has caught your attention and what it means to you. Then, think about how this element could fit into a story or poem that's related to the prompt.

Now that you have an idea of what your story will be about and how it might play out, write down some notes or bullet points on what characters might be involved and what kind of setting they'll inhabit. This will give you something solid to refer back to when it's time for writing. When crafting your story, try not to limit yourself by sticking too closely to the original prompt; instead use it as a jumping off point for your own creativity and imagination!

Writing can be intimidating but with creative writing prompts, it doesn't have to be! By taking some time beforehand to plan and identify elements that stand out in the prompt, along with allowing yourself space for creativity while writing, you'll find yourself getting more comfortable with expressing yourself on paper–and having fun doing so!

Creative Writing Prompts for Fiction

Creative writing prompts for fiction can provide a great starting point for aspiring authors and writers. They can help you find inspiration, hone your craft, or just get your creative juices flowing. Whether you are writing a short story, novel, play, or screenplay, there's something here for everyone.

These prompts come in many forms - from general ideas to specific plot points - and can be used as either the basis for a story or as an idea generator. They are also great for those who are stuck in a writing rut and need a little push to get going again. Many of them offer exercises that will help you develop your writing skills, such as developing characters and constructing scenes.

Using creative writing prompts is an excellent way to challenge yourself and become more comfortable with the process of writing fiction. Even if you don't use the prompt directly in your story, it can spark ideas that lead to interesting plot twists or introduce elements that take your story in unexpected directions. No matter what type of writer you are, these prompts can be used to explore new worlds and create unique stories unlike anything else out there.

Writing doesn't have to be intimidating - creative writing prompts make it easier than ever to break into fiction-writing with confidence!

Creative Writing Prompts for Non-Fiction

The fifth creative writing prompt is all about non-fiction. Non-fiction is a great way to express your ideas and tell stories without having to make up the characters or the plot. You can use real life events, people, and places as the basis of your story or narrative. Non-fiction writing can be a powerful tool in helping you discover and explore new perspectives on topics that you are passionate about.

There are many different approaches you can take when it comes to non-fiction writing prompts. You could try writing something based on personal experience, a historical event, or even something completely made up but with a specific purpose in mind. This type of writing can also be used to help develop characters within non-fiction stories. In addition, non-fiction writing allows for more freedom when it comes to exploring themes of interest and uncovering unique stories through research.

Non-fiction creative writing prompts are an excellent way to get started if you're feeling stuck or uninspired. They provide a starting point from which you can build upon and create something truly unique and engaging. Plus, they allow for plenty of room for creativity and exploration as you go along! So don't be afraid to pick up your pen and get started on crafting some amazing non-fiction stories today!

Creative Writing Prompts for Poetry

Poetry can be a great creative outlet for writers, as it allows them to express their feelings and musings in a unique and beautiful way. Exploring the world of poetry gives the writer an opportunity to explore different styles and forms of writing, while also providing them with a platform on which they can share their innermost thoughts. Creative writing prompts for poetry can help people get into the habit of engaging in poetic composition, allowing them to hone their skills and find inspiration for new pieces.

When it comes to choosing creative writing prompts for poetry, there are many options available. For example, one could pick a theme or subject that interests them and then write a poem about it. Alternatively, they may want to focus on structure and try writing a piece that follows specific parameters such as haikus or sonnets. Prompts can also ask the writer to use certain words or phrases, creating an exercise in wordplay. Of course, simply asking someone “What is on your mind?” can be enough to spark some creativity and lead to some interesting poems as well.

Ultimately, creative writing prompts for poetry are great tools that can help poets find inspiration when they need it most. Whether one opts for more structured prompts or decides to brainstorm ideas on their own, there are plenty of ways they can tap into their creative side and construct something extraordinary out of words. By diving into the world of poetry through creative writing prompts, writers can unlock hidden depths within themselves that may not have been discovered otherwise.

Creative Writing Prompts for Memoirs

As we move onto the seventh creative writing prompt, we're looking at memoirs. A memoir is an autobiographical story, often exploring a particular moment or event in one's life. Writing a memoir can be a great way to explore and reflect upon your own experiences and come to terms with them. It can also be a great way to capture those memories for future generations.

When writing a memoir, it's important to remember that the focus should be on how you felt during the experience being written about. This means conveying emotions and thoughts through words to create an emotional landscape that readers can empathize with. Furthermore, it's important to draw out the story so that readers are given enough detail to understand what happened and why it was significant for you.

In order to write a compelling memoir, it's necessary to have an element of self-reflection throughout the piece. What did you learn? How did this experience change you in some way? These questions will help give your story depth and allow readers to connect with your journey in meaningful ways. When approaching these questions, it's best not to sugarcoat or shy away from difficult truths; instead, offer an honest account of how things were for you in order for readers to really understand what happened.

Resources for Creative Writing Prompts

Writing can be a creative outlet, and creative writing prompts are a great way to get started. When it comes to memoirs, these prompts can be especially helpful in getting your writing juices flowing. In this article, we will discuss the next step: resources for creative writing prompts.

One of the best resources for creative writing prompts is online forums. There are many online communities dedicated to this topic, where writers can find inspiration through discussion with their peers. Additionally, these forums often provide helpful feedback from experienced writers that may help you develop your story in unexpected ways.

Another great resource is books on the subject of creative writing prompts. These books can range from collections of exercises that help you practice different elements of storytelling, to biographies of famous authors who have used similar techniques in their work. These books also provide further insight into how to use the ideas offered by such prompts in more effective ways.

Whether you're looking for inspiration or tips on how to better use the resources available, there is something out there for everyone when it comes to creative writing prompts. All it takes is a little bit of research and dedication to finding what works best for you and your story-telling goals!

Tips for Writing with Creative Writing Prompts

When it comes to using creative writing prompts, there are a few tips that can help you get the most out of them. Firstly, it's important to choose a prompt that resonates with you and your writing style. Think about what types of topics you typically write about and find one that suits your interests. Secondly, don't be afraid to go off-topic when writing with prompts. Take the main idea of the prompt and see where it takes you - you can always come back to the original topic if needed. Finally, take some time to edit your work once it's complete. This is especially true when using creative writing prompts since you may have gone off in an unexpected direction during your writing session.

Editing allows you to refine your work and ensure that it's up to standards. It gives you a chance to add any details or descriptions that may be missing, as well as make sure everything flows together smoothly. Additionally, editing can help identify any typos or grammatical errors that weren't noticed earlier on. Taking the time for this final step ensures that your work is polished and ready for publication or submission!

Writing with Creative Writing Prompts: Benefits and Challenges

Writing with creative writing prompts can offer a range of benefits and challenges. It's important to understand both before you begin writing. This way, you'll be better equipped to handle any issues that come up while making the most of the potential rewards.

One of the biggest advantages of using creative writing prompts is that they can help get your ideas flowing. You might be feeling stuck on what to write about, but prompts can give you a starting point or push you in a certain direction. They also provide structure and guidance, so it's easier to focus on the task at hand rather than wandering off-track.

On the other hand, there are some potential drawbacks to consider when creating with creative writing prompts too. For one thing, they can be quite difficult to work with if they're too vague or abstract. If this happens, it may take longer for inspiration to strike and could even lead to writers' block. Additionally, if the prompt is too specific or restrictive in its parameters, it could stifle creativity instead of promoting it.

So before taking on creative writing prompts as a project, make sure you have considered all possible outcomes and thought about how best to approach them in order for them to bring out your best work. Doing this will ensure you get the most out of your experience as a writer!

I'm always amazed at the power of creative writing prompts. They can help me come up with ideas for a novel, develop characters, and create storylines that I never would have thought of on my own.

When choosing which creative writing prompts to use, I try to look for ones that are interesting and appropriate for the story I want to tell. I also take advantage of online resources such as websites and books that offer a variety of creative writing prompts. This helps me find topics that challenge me and spark my creativity.

Finally, I make sure that whatever prompts I choose are effective by considering how they will fit into my story and if they will help move it along in a meaningful way. Creative writing prompts can be incredibly powerful tools for writers, so long as we use them wisely.

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Fabulism with shaelin bishop, write a story about an artist whose work has magical properties..

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Write a story where your character is travelling a road that has no end.

Write a story where the laws of time and space begin to dissolve., start your story with it raining… anything but rain (e.g. flowers, cutlery, seashells, running shoes)., write a story where a regular household item becomes sentient..

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Write a story in which an important message is cut off, leaving characters to wonder or puzzle out what was left unsaid., write a story including the line “i can’t say it.”, write a story in which a conversation takes place where the true subject is only implied., start or finish your story with a speaker unable to finish their sentence, perhaps overcome by emotion., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

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Write a story about a first or last kiss., write about a cynical character who somehow ends up on a blind date., write about a successful marriage proposal, or one that goes horribly wrong., write a love story without using the word “love.”, write about a character who isn’t nostalgic about their past at all, and show readers why., write a story about a grown-up sharing their favorite childhood video game with their child., write a time-travel story where a character from the present finds themselves in the 80s or 90s., write a story about someone finally gaining access into their family’s very old computer., start your story with a character finding a retro piece of tech they don’t recognize., win $250 in our short story competition 🏆.

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Creative Writing Prompts

When the idea to start a weekly newsletter with writing inspiration first came to us, we decided that we wanted to do more than provide people with topics to write about. We wanted to try and help authors form a regular writing habit and also give them a place to proudly display their work. So we started the weekly Creative Writing Prompts newsletter. Since then, Prompts has grown to a community of more than 450,000 authors, complete with its own literary magazine, Prompted .  

Here's how our contest works: every Friday, we send out a newsletter containing five creative writing prompts. Each week, the story ideas center around a different theme. Authors then have one week — until the following Friday — to submit a short story based on one of our prompts. A winner is picked each week to win $250 and is highlighted on our Reedsy Prompts page.

Interested in participating in our short story contest? Sign up here for more information! Or you can check out our full Terms of Use and our FAQ page .

Why we love creative writing prompts

If you've ever sat in front of a computer or notebook and felt the urge to start creating worlds, characters, and storylines — all the while finding yourself unable to do so — then you've met the author's age-old foe: writer's block. There's nothing more frustrating than finding the time but not the words to be creative. Enter our directory! If you're ready to kick writer's block to the curb and finally get started on your short story or novel, these unique story ideas might just be your ticket.

This list of 1800+ creative writing prompts has been created by the Reedsy team to help you develop a rock-solid writing routine. As all aspiring authors know, this is the #1 challenge — and solution! — for reaching your literary goals. Feel free to filter through different genres, which include...

Dramatic — If you want to make people laugh and cry within the same story, this might be your genre.

Funny — Whether satire or slapstick, this is an opportunity to write with your funny bone.

Romance — One of the most popular commercial genres out there. Check out these story ideas out if you love writing about love.

Fantasy — The beauty of this genre is that the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Dystopian – Explore the shadowy side of human nature and contemporary technology in dark speculative fiction.

Mystery — From whodunnits to cozy mysteries, it's time to bring out your inner detective.

Thriller and Suspense — There's nothing like a page-turner that elicits a gasp of surprise at the end.

High School — Encourage teens to let their imaginations run free.

Want to submit your own story ideas to help inspire fellow writers? Send them to us here.

After you find the perfect story idea

Finding inspiration is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, you need to refine your craft skills — and then display them to the world. We've worked hard to create resources that help you do just that! Check them out:

  • How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
  • Best Literary Magazines of 2023 — a directory of 100+ reputable magazines that accept unsolicited submissions.
  • Writing Contests in 2023 — the finest contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors of short stories, poetry, essays, and more.

Beyond creative writing prompts: how to build a writing routine

While writing prompts are a great tactic to spark your creative sessions, a writer generally needs a couple more tools in their toolbelt when it comes to developing a rock-solid writing routine . To that end, here are a few more additional tips for incorporating your craft into your everyday life.

  • NNWT. Or, as book coach Kevin Johns calls it , “Non-Negotiable Writing Time.” This time should be scheduled into your routine, whether that’s once a day or once a week. Treat it as a serious commitment, and don’t schedule anything else during your NNWT unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Set word count goals. And make them realistic! Don’t start out with lofty goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Give some thought to how many words you think you can write a week, and start there. If you find you’re hitting your weekly or daily goals easily, keep upping the stakes as your craft time becomes more ingrained in your routine.
  • Talk to friends and family about the project you’re working on. Doing so means that those close to you are likely to check in about the status of your piece — which in turn keeps you more accountable.

Arm yourself against writer’s block. Writer’s block will inevitably come, no matter how much story ideas initially inspire you. So it’s best to be prepared with tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track before the block hits. You can find 20 solid tips here — including how to establish a relationship with your inner critic and apps that can help you defeat procrastination or lack of motivation.


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A Writer With Skin in the Game

The essayist Leslie Jamison has become known for her careful balancing acts of self-exposure.

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A close-up portrait of Leslie Jamison, who is wearing a green and black floral dress and earrings shaped like lemon wheels.

By Kate Dwyer

“If the self is a guesthouse, most of the rooms are full of ghosts,” Leslie Jamison said on a recent Monday afternoon in a Columbia University lecture hall. Ms. Jamison, wearing an ethereal blue maxi dress, stood before a projector screen showing 19th-century spirit photography. “Being haunted can be a state of abundance,” she said. “Living in the ghost hotel is a state of abundance. Memories are raw material.”

One does not check into a ghost hotel without taking inventory of its specters: “Who are you haunted by?” Ms. Jamison told her students to ask themselves. “What versions of yourself are you haunted by? What moments are you haunted by?”

Ms. Jamison’s graduate course is called “The Self” and addresses the challenges of writing in the first person. Each class tackles a different self that can come through in a work: There is the “loving self” in relationships; the “shameful self,” who reckons with pain; the “self at risk,” who is in peril; and, during class that Monday, the “haunted self,” who lives in the aftermath of disaster and must confront the past.

Ms. Jamison said she became acquainted with each of these while writing her new memoir, “ Splinters ,” which recounts the birth of her child and the end of her marriage. Her writing often includes intensely personal details — in “ The Empathy Exams ” she wrote about her excessive drinking and an abortion, and in “ The Recovering ” she shared an unvarnished account of her path to sobriety. But this is her first book drawn entirely from her own life, without the essayistic pivots between criticism and reportage that made her name in literary circles alongside writers like Maggie Nelson, Roxane Gay and Eula Biss.

“Part of what spoke to me in the form of ‘Splinters’ was this idea of accessing something different by staying so close to the body and lived experience,” Ms. Jamison, 40, said.

But her character on the page, she added, is a “partial, built thing.”

“Who I am in ‘Splinters,’ yes, is me — I lived all of those things,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m choosing what that narrator does and says and is on the page, and building her piece by piece.”

Her raw material is this: Ms. Jamison grew up in Los Angeles, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write even before she could physically do so, enlisting her two older brothers to write down the stories she told them. She left the West Coast to attend Harvard and then moved to Iowa City for an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; from there, she pursued a Ph.D in English at Yale. But she says she completed her debut novel, “The Gin Closet,” while working as an innkeeper in her hometown — one of a handful of odd jobs she’s had, including baker, office temp, juice barista, Gap sales clerk and medical actor . Her breakout essay collection, “The Empathy Exams,” followed four years later.

That spring, at a writers’ work space near Union Square in Manhattan, she met the writer Charles Bock , who appears in “Splinters” as “C.” They got married just a few months later, and settled down in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The marital troubles began after the birth of their daughter and the publication of “The Recovering” in 2018, she writes in the memoir, when she and Mr. Bock became emotionally distant. “Our home was a place in which I’d come to feel alone, and so — in retaliation, or from depletion — I made C feel alone, too,” she writes. “His barbed comments left me so frayed that I stopped trying to detect or soothe the hurt beneath them.”

After separating in 2019, she began to take notes for “Splinters” while living in a sublet next to a firehouse, where she felt the grief of rupture alongside a “sense of hope and deep love,” she said. She wanted to explore those seemingly contradictory feelings on the page.

In her memoir, Ms. Jamison breaks these life events into shards for the reader to piece together over the course of the book. By writing in short, intense vignettes, she said, “it felt like I broke open something in my language,” and discovered a new way of writing. “That’s always the feeling that I want.”

Less than an hour after Ms. Jamison’s daughter is born, on Page 9, a nurse takes the baby down the hall to receive treatment for jaundice. It takes another nurse’s words of comfort for Ms. Jamison to feel the tears on her cheeks. After a little while, Ms. Jamison writes, she wheels her IV pole down the hall to observe her daughter blue-lit under the nursery’s bilirubin lights.

Forty pages later, she reveals that during that “little while,” she had pulled out her laptop and continued fact-checking an essay on female rage from her hospital bed, “bleary with shame and pride.” Having finished copy edits just before her water broke, she had planned to continue working from the hospital.

“Why did it feel somehow like saying, ‘I got to work and I was glad to get to work’?” she asked. “Why does that threaten to invalidate the feeling of sadness that I narrate the first time?”

The revelations that arrive in “Splinters” are not the payoff; instead, Ms. Jamison sees the thrill of narrative as “dramatizing the process of getting there,” she said, and “getting to watch thought become suspicious of itself, but then still be hungry for some sort of meaning.”

Ms. Jamison arrived on the literary scene when the hybrid essay was becoming more popular in the wake of “ It Happened to Me ”-style confessional essays that populated blogs the decade before, often relying on writers to expose their deepest wounds for page views.

“There was a moment, sometime between 2008 and 2010, when a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life — became a lucrative internet product,” Anne Helen Petersen wrote in a review of “How to Murder Your Life,” the 2017 memoir by Cat Marnell, a former beauty editor at xoJane, which became known for that form of personal writing.

In a workshop at the end of her M.F.A., Ms. Jamison said she had tried to write these self-lacerating essays. But she found them claustrophobic and felt they didn’t make room for the range of feelings she wanted to convey. Incorporating journalism and criticism made the personal essay feel more outward-looking, she said. Ms. Jamison set out to prove that “personal narrative doesn’t have to be as solipsistic as we think it is.”

That has earned her a devoted following. The rise of the hybrid essay “coincided with a rise in the creative nonfiction programs across the country,” said Jan Weissmiller, a poet and an owner of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, where Ms. Jamison drafted parts of “The Empathy Exams.” Ms. Weissmiller said that book “was formative for all those young people that were studying and starting to write that way.”

Ms. Jamison is one of 30 or so writers who Michael Taeckens, the former marketing director of Graywolf Press, said had “spawned legions of imitators” — or at least legions of young writers and students who want to learn the secrets of this genre-bending high-wire act.

Emmeline Clein, a former student of Ms. Jamison’s whose forthcoming book “Dead Weight” recounts her struggle with an eating disorder, said Ms. Jamison was the first writer she read who captured “a certain type of human void that manifests in emotional and mental distress,” and whose approach “is grounded in research but is very human and lived.”

Anika Jade Levy, the co-editor of Forever Magazine, marveled over Ms. Jamison’s “ability to intellectualize her own experiences without diluting their emotional resonances.” Madelaine Lucas, another former Columbia student, said Ms. Jamison’s 2014 essay “ Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain ” — about women who numb themselves to avoid seeming melodramatic — is “maybe not a battle cry, but something that spoke to a particular generation of women.”

This semester, all but three of the 60 students in Ms. Jamison’s course are women, many of them longtime Leslie-heads who applied to the program hoping to work with her.

Ms. Jamison’s life looks much different now than it does in the pages of “Splinters.” These days, she lives with a partner in Brooklyn and splits the week between what she calls “outward”-facing days teaching at Columbia and internet-free writing days at home, where she is working on a novel, a book about daydreaming and a version of her “Self” lectures to publish widely. Friday afternoons are reserved for time with her daughter, who is now in kindergarten.

Ms. Jamison said she tries to bring some of the vulnerability she uses in her books to her classroom to show students that she, too, has skin in the game. She talks openly about addiction, anorexia and unhealthy relationships. “People are just so much more ready and willing and eager to share parts of themselves because they already feel like they’re on this particular radio channel with you,” she said.

During a 10-minute break, she asked her students to respond to a writing prompt about “haunted sweetness.” When class resumed, students talked about learning to sew and embarking upon ill-advised affairs.

“To believe in writing from a first-person perspective is not just about believing in your own first person,” Ms. Jamison said later, during an interview in her tidy, bohemian office, where a colleague’s origami mobile hangs from a shelf. “It’s literally about believing in the richness of anybody’s subjectivity.”

She recounted how she had read a biography of the 19th-century mathematician Georg Cantor as a child, an attempt to impress one of her older brothers. One of Cantor’s great discoveries was that there were different types of infinities.

In writing creative nonfiction, she said, there’s one kind of infinity available in examining one’s life alongside the lives of others, something she hopes she manages to capture in her essays.

“Then there’s this other kind of infinity — that’s not a lesser infinity, it’s just a different infinity — that’s between zero and one,” she said, “when you’re hewing closer to your own experience.”

Back in the classroom, Ms. Jamison recounted an anecdote about an apple farmer who coined the term “ghost apples” to describe the icy formations he noticed growing in his orchard. During a cold snap in Michigan, the farmer realized that his apples had turned to mush and escaped their icy shells, leaving behind perfect crystalline forms.

“When I think of writing the moments that haunt me, I think of these ghost apples,” Ms. Jamison said. “How to let the excess drop away, the mush and skin of what happened but isn’t necessary to the telling.”

Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

In her new memoir, “Splinters,” the essayist Leslie Jamison  recounts the birth of her child  and the end of her marriage.

The Oscar-nominated film “Poor Things” is based on a 1992 book by Alasdair Gray. Beloved by writers, it was never widely read  but is now ripe for reconsideration.

Even in countries where homophobia is pervasive and same-sex relationships are illegal, queer African writers are pushing boundaries , finding an audience and winning awards.

In Lucy Sante’s new memoir, “I Heard Her Call My Name,” the author reflects on her life and embarking on a gender transition  in her late 60s.

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories .

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David Nield

17 Tips to Take Your ChatGPT Prompts to the Next Level

5 blue balls riding on 5 randomly arranged curved black tubes against a bright green backdrop

ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and other tools like them are making artificial intelligence available to the masses. We can now get all sorts of responses back on almost any topic imaginable. These chatbots can compose sonnets, write code, get philosophical, and automate tasks.

However, while you can just type anything you like into ChatGPT and get it to understand you. There are ways of getting more interesting and useful results out of the bot. This "prompt engineering" is becoming a specialized skill of its own.

Sometimes all it takes is the addition of a few more words or an extra line of instruction and you can get ChatGPT responses that are a level above what everyone else is seeing—and we've included several examples below.

While there's lots you can do with the free version of ChatGPT, a few of these prompts require a paid ChatGPT Plus subscription —where that's the case, we've noted it in the tip.

ChatGPT can give you responses in the form of a table if you ask. This is particularly helpful for getting information or creative ideas. For example, you could tabulate meal ideas and ingredients, or game ideas and equipment, or the days of the week and how they're said in a few different languages.

Using follow-up prompts and natural language, you can have ChatGPT make changes to the tables it has drawn and even produce the tables in a standard format that can be understood by another program (such as Microsoft Excel).

If you provide ChatGPT with a typed list of information, it can respond in a variety of ways. Maybe you want it to create anagrams from a list of names, or sort a list of products into alphabetical order, or turn all the items in a list into upper case. If needed, you can then click the copy icon (the small clipboard) at the end of an answer to have the processed text sent to the system clipboard.

Screenshot of ChatGPT

Get ChatGPT to respond as your favorite author.

With some careful prompting, you can get ChatGPT out of its rather dull, matter-of-fact, default tone and into something much more interesting—such as the style of your favorite author, perhaps.

You could go for the searing simplicity of an Ernest Hemingway or Raymond Carver story, the lyrical rhythm of a Shakespearean play, or the density of a Dickens novel. The resulting prose won't come close to the genius of the actual authors themselves, but it's another way of getting more creative with the output you generate.

ChatGPT can really impress when it's given restrictions to work within, so don't be shy when it comes to telling the bot to limit its responses to a certain number of words or a certain number of paragraphs.

It could be everything from condensing the information in four paragraphs down into one, or even asking for answers with words of seven characters or fewer (just to keep it simple). If ChatGPT doesn't follow your responses properly, you can correct it, and it'll try again.

Another way of tweaking the way ChatGPT responds is to tell it who the intended audience is for its output. You might have seen WIRED's videos in which complex subjects are explained to people with different levels of understanding. This works in a similar way.

For example, you can tell ChatGPT that you are speaking to a bunch of 10-year-olds or to an audience of business entrepreneurs and it will respond accordingly. It works well for generating multiple outputs along the same theme.

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Tell ChatGPT the audience it's writing for.

ChatGPT is a very capable prompt engineer itself. If you ask it to come up with creative and effective inputs for artificial intelligence engines such as Dall-E and Midjourney , you'll get text you can then input into other AI tools you're playing around with. You're even able to ask for tips with prompts for ChatGPT itself.

When it comes to generating prompts, the more detailed and specific you are about what you're looking for the better: You can get the chatbot to extend and add more detail to your sentences, you can get it to role-play as a prompt generator for a specific AI tool, and you can tell it to refine its answers as you add more and more information.

While ChatGPT is based around text, you can get it to produce pictures of a sort by asking for ASCII art. That's the art made up of characters and symbols rather than colors. The results won't win you any prizes, but it's pretty fun to play around with.

The usual ChatGPT rules apply, in that the more specific you are in your prompt the better, and you can get the bot to add new elements and take elements away as you go. Remember the limitations of the ASCII art format though—this isn't a full-blown image editor.

Screenshot of ChatGPT

A ChatGPT Plus subscription comes with image generation.

If you use ChatGPT Plus , it's got the DALL-E image generator right inside it, so you can ask for any kind of photo, drawing, or illustration you like. As with text, try to be as explicit as possible about what it is you want to see, and how it's shown; do you want something that looks like a watercolor painting, or like it was taken by a DSLR camera? You can have some real fun with this: Put Columbo in a cyberpunk setting, or see how Jurassic Park would look in the Victorian era. The possibilities are almost endless.

You don't have to do all the typing yourself when it comes to ChatGPT. Copy and paste is your friend, and there's no problem with pasting in text from other sources. While the input limit tops out at around 4,000 words, you can easily split the text you're sending the bot into several sections and get it to remember what you've previously sent.

Perhaps one of the best ways of using this approach is to get ChatGPT to simplify text that you don't understand—the explanation of a difficult scientific concept, for instance. You can also get it to translate text into different languages, write it in a more engaging or fluid style, and so on.

If you want to go exploring, ask ChatGPT to create a text-based choose-your-own adventure game. You can specify the theme and the setting of the adventure, as well as any other ground rules to put in place. When we tried this out, we found ourselves wandering through a spooky castle, with something sinister apparently hiding in the shadows.

Screenshot of ChatGPT

ChatGPT is able to create text-based games for you to play.

Another way to improve the responses you get from ChatGPT is to give it some data to work with before you ask your question. For instance, you could give it a list of book summaries together with their genre, then ask it to apply the correct genre label to a new summary. Another option would be to tell ChatGPT about activities you enjoy and then get a new suggestion.

There's no magic combination of words you have to use here. Just use natural language as always, and ChatGPT will understand what you're getting at. Specify that you're providing examples at the start of your prompt, then tell the bot that you want a response with those examples in mind.

You can ask ChatGPT for feedback on any of your own writing, from the emails you're sending to friends, to the short story you're submitting to a competition, to the prompts you're typing into the AI bot. Ask for pointers on spelling, grammar, tone, readability, or anything else you want to scrutinize.

ChatGPT cleared the above paragraph as being clear and effective, but said it could use a call to action at the end. Try this prompt today!

Screenshot of ChatGPT

Get ChatGPT to give you feedback on your own writing.

In the same way that ChatGPT can mimic the style of certain authors that it knows about, it can also play a role: a frustrated salesman, an excitable teenager (you'll most likely get a lot of emoji and abbreviations back), or the iconic western film star John Wayne.

There are countless roles you can play around with. These prompts might not score highly in terms of practical applications, but they're definitely a useful insight into the potential of these AI chatbots.

You can type queries into ChatGPT that you might otherwise type into Google, looking for answers: Think "how much should I budget for a day of sightseeing in London?" or "what are the best ways to prepare for a job interview?" for example. Almost anything will get a response of some sort—though as always, don't take AI responses as being 100 percent accurate 100 percent of the time.

If you're using the paid ChatGPT Plus tool, it will actually search the web (with Bing) and provide link references for the answers it gives. If you're using the free version of ChatGPT, it'll mine the data its been trained on for answers, so they might be a little out of date or less reliable.

Your answers can be seriously improved if you give ChatGPT some ingredients to work with before asking for a response. They could be literal ingredients—suggest a dish from what's left in the fridge—or they could be anything else.

So don't just ask for a murder mystery scenario. Also list out the characters who are going to appear. Don't just ask for ideas of where to go in a city; specify the city you're going to, the types of places you want to see, and the people you'll have with you.

Your prompts don't always have to get ChatGPT to generate something from scratch: You can start it off with something, and then let the AI finish it off. The model will take clues from what you've already written and build on it.

This can come in handy for everything from coding a website to composing a poem—and you can then get ChatGPT to go back and refine its answer as well.

You've no doubt noticed how online arguments have tended toward the binary in recent years, so get ChatGPT to help add some gray between the black and the white. It's able to argue both sides of an argument if you ask it to, including both pros and cons.

From politics and philosophy to sports and the arts, ChatGPT is able to sit on the fence quite impressively—not in a vague way, but in a way that can help you understand tricky issues from multiple perspectives.

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