Break that Block: Five Fun Writing Prompts

Nov 03, 2010

We've all been there. You have a big assignment for school or work, but you can't seem to get your thoughts in order. Maybe you feel totally blocked, like your creativity has gone completely AWOL. Here are some entertaining prompts you can use to re-engage your brain.

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How Did I Get Here?

Studying history, literature and many other subjects in college includes examining the lives of people who have made significant social, cultural and political contributions to our world. Often this involves looking at the youth and family backgrounds of change-makers. Academics want to understand formative experiences that may have led to an individual's genius. What ingredients in the proverbial petri dish spawned greatness?

Take some time to think about what has brought you to this point, examining your life in the way you would a famous world leader or philosopher. Worried there's not much glamour or greatness to your past or present? Maybe you haven't split the atom, but who cares? That's already been done, and every day you're doing things that are new and interesting to you. Get inspired about your life and begin your own bildungsroman. It is National Novel Writing Month after all!

Everyone on Set

Animal House. Revenge of the Nerds. PCU. Old School. These films and a few others are thought by many to be classics of college cinema. In fact, university life has proven to be fertile creative ground for Hollywood producers and directors. Each year there are new movies that show what being a college student is supposedly all about.

Some of these movies are definitely better than others, but something most have in common is a lack of scenes showing any real work being done. But then, how exciting could a montage of students studying in the library really be? So, what would you do? Say you're this year's big shot director making a film about the college experience. What happens?

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Bring the Intangibles

Though still in school, you're probably concerned about the job market. With opportunities more precious than ever, students are working hard to excel academically, make professional connections and pad resumes with work and leadership experiences. It can be disheartening to know that you'll soon be entering an economic landscape that is less than ideal.

Worrying too much about this right now isn't going to help. But preparing for that future can. Take some time now to think about what sets you apart from others in your discipline. Image you're in an interview and a potential employer asks about the intangibles you bring to a job - those personal attributes that make you a perfect fit for the organization. What will you say?

The Beginning Student's Guide to College

You may be an old pro at the college game by now, but your first days on campus were probably filled with questions. Maybe you had trouble getting used to your schedule or figuring out where your classes were - typical freshmen fare. Then there was all of the other campus knowledge you had to gain, like which 'food' to avoid in the quad dining hall and what places everyone hung out at.

This exercise gives you the chance to show off all you've learned. Imagine the school newspaper asks you to create a guide for incoming freshmen. It's your job to turn these clueless creatures into hip, sophisticated college beings. Being a master of campus, it's your time to shine.

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Where Am I Going?

Often we're so busy doing high-priority work that time can just pass us by. College can even start to seem like a race where you're always in motion with blinders on - oblivious to a lot of other things going on. While it's great to move toward academic, social and work goals, it's also important to take a break to remember why you're doing it in the first place.

Think about what drives you. Write down the future for which you're working so hard. What will your days be like? What kind of environment will you work in? What will be your family situation - spouse, kids, etc? Go for the idyllic, and think about how today's efforts will help you to get there tomorrow. The next time you're feeling fatigued by the grind, this vision can serve as inspiration.

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