Non-fiction writing is an important craft and everyone should give it a try. I would even recommend doing regular non-fiction writing sessions to break the writers block that can happen when writing a fiction novel.
I recently wrote about the different types of non-fiction genres. Read about it here.
When looking for writing prompts for my non-fiction writing friends, the options seem to be a bit slim. If you’re struggling to find non-fiction prompts, I’ve listed 10 prompts here for you non-fictioners (and fictioners who want a challenge outside their normal writing practice).
NOTE: Don’t be afraid to “mix-and-match” some of these because each suggestion highlights a specific line of inspiration for you. Don’t hesitate to mix up two or three of these and see what you can create with it!
1 – Tell the nonfiction story that you don’t want your mother to read. You know the one. Don’t censor yourself.
2 – Tell the story of one of your family holiday gatherings. Identify any of your family’s common trademarks, such as your one aunt that seems to tell the same joke at every Christmas, or your two uncles that always hide from the rest of the family by doing the dishes. Explore how you are linked within this family dynamic, and how these little quirks evolved and changed over the years.
3 – Recall a key lesson that parents or family members tried to impart onto you as a child. For example: “live with a healthy mind and healthy body,” or “put others before yourself.” Revisit that lesson as an adult and connect it to how you have come to interpret it as you grew up or in your adult life. Feel free to pick a less serious lesson and have a little bit of fun with it.
4 – Think of a lesson you learned recently and apply it to a memory. How would your behavior have changed if you had applied the lesson back then?
5 – What relationship in your life has caused the most pain? Write the key scene in that relationship, when everything was at stake.
6 – If you could throw five items into the fire, what would they be and why? To be clear, by throwing them in this fire, there would be no trace of them left anywhere, even if it’s something on the Internet or a memory. This is a very powerful fire. What would the consequences be?
7 – Take a small, boring moment that happened today and write as much as you can about it. Go overboard describing it, and make this boring moment exciting by describing it in intense detail with ecstatic prose. Eventually connect this small, boring detail with the grand narrative of your life, your bigger purpose and intentions.
8 – Write about a fork in the road in your life, and how you made the decision to go the direction you did.
9 – Revisit a moment in your life that you feel you will never be able to forget. What about that moment made it so unforgettable?
10 – If all else fails, try a writing-sprint. Set an alarm for 5, 10, or 15 minutes and write as much as possible within that time span. Even if you begin with no inspiration, you might be surprised with what you come up with by the end.
Reach out to me and tell me how you used these prompts and what came out of the exercise. Who knows – maybe it will be the beginning of your best seller!