100 things to do with a creative prompt

So you’ve got a creative prompt (or the seed of an idea, or the beginnings of something that could eventually be a piece of creative work). Now what the heck do you do with it?

There are a million different ways you can use prompts for creative exploration. I’ve listed more than 100 here.

(You may also want to check out these thoughts about how to use this site.)

Hint: If you look at one of the suggestions below and find yourself saying, “But that’s not applicable to my prompt,” yes it is. Choose that one on purpose. Make it work.

p.s. If you wanna get really hardcore, the most useful tips on this list are the first four (in bold).

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Use the prompt as is. Go with the first thing that comes into your head.
Or (if you really have to), go with the second thing.
Just do it. Just start. Trust the process.
Restrict your options or parameters in some way.

Relate it to your own experience.
Change just one thing.
Change every thing but one.

Free associate.
Amplify it.
Do the opposite.
Put everything backwards.
Turn it upside down.

Take away the rules.
Make up new rules.
Make it a rule.
Make it a wish.
Make it a blessing.
Make it a cautionary tale.
Make it a question.
Make it an answer.

Imagine it’s a dream.
Imagine it’s a nightmare.
Give it a voice.
Dialogue with it.
Listen to the conversation between the elements.
Use an element of the prompt that the questions don’t explore.
Put it on your mental back burner.

Go for a walk.
Take it on a walkabout.
Trace it in the snow,
Bury it in the ground,
Or drop it to the bottom of the ocean.

Google it.
Auto-correct it.

How does it make you feel?
If the prompt had feelings, what would they be?

Put a match to it.
Douse it with gasoline first.

Mine it.
Dig deeper.

Till the soil of it.
Plant it in the ground.
Water it.
Feed it.
Weed it.
Harvest it.
Make it a meal.
Eat it.

Make it an appetizer.
Make it breakfast.
Make it lunch.
Make it tea.
Make it supper.
Make it dessert.
Make it a bon bon.
Make it a chaser.
Make it a bedtime snack.
Make it milk and cookies.
Make it healthy.
Make it a vitamin.
Make it a weight-loss miracle.
Make it the cure for cancer.
Make it forbidden.

Make it compost.
Make it garbage.

Make it sexual.
Make it chaste.
Make it repressed.

Make it soft.
Make it hard.
Make it loud.
Make it subtle.
Make it brash.
Make it vulgar.
Make it intense.
Make it gentle.
Make it make-believe fantastical.

Make it yours.
Make it somebody else’s.

Make it a toy.
Make it a game.
Make it a lesson.

Make it funny.
Make it sad.
Make it mournful.
Make it thoughtful.
Make it frivolous.
Make it dead serious.

Count it.
Hoard it.
Hide it.
Reveal it.

Give it away for free.

Ideas for writers, storytellers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, filmmakers, copywriters, editors
Make it the beginning.
Make it the end.
Make it the turning point.
Make it the climax.
Make it the epilogue.
What’s the back story?
Make it your story.
Make it somebody else’s.

Make the prompt a character in a story.
Make it a child.
Make it a wise elder.
Make it a god.
Make it a scorned fairy.

Make it the theme.
Make it true.
Make it too good to be true.
Make it a lie.
Make it a little white lie.
Make it a fish story.
Make it a whopper.
Make it a yarn.
Make it a con.
Make it a conspiracy.

Make it a proverb.
Make it a folk story.
Make it the stuff of legend.
Make it a comedy.
Make it a tragedy.

Make it 140 characters.
Make it 100 words.
Make it 26 volumes.
Make it a dictionary definition.
Make it a Wikipedia article.

Make it an hypothesis.
Make it a conclusion.
Make it a recommendation.

Make it a prayer.
Make it a cheer.
Make it a eulogy.
Make it a love letter.
Make it a complaint.
Make it a dare.
Make it a curse.
Make it a promise.
Make it a date.
Make it a proposal.
Make it a prescription.
Make it a recipe.
Make it a to do list.
Make it a love spell.

Make it an invitation.

Ideas for visual artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, multi-media mashers
Make it Technicolor™.
Make it all one colour.
Make it black and white.
Miniaturize it.
Make it life size.
Make it human scale.
Make it monstrous.

Repeat it.
Make it a series.
Make it a triptych.
Make it an altarpiece.
Make it decorative.
Make it figurative.
Abstract it.
Make it conceptual.

Give it another dimension.

Ideas for movers, actors, dancers, performers, acrobats, athletes
Act it out.
Get it “off-book.”
Put it in your body.
Dance it.
Make it expressive.
Make it authentic.
Make it campy.

Make it a caress.
Make it a rude gesture.
Make it a pregnant pause.
Make it a sign in American Sign Language.
Make it a yoga pose.

Make it the perfect form.
Make it the offense.
Make it the defense.
Make it the lucky charm.
Make it the winning point.

Make it the training secret.

Ideas for musicians, composers, songwriters, singers, instrumentalists
What key is it in?
What time signature?
Chord progressions?
Genre?
Style?
Orchestration?

Improvise on it.
Modulate it.
Rehearse it.
Learn it by heart.
Make it a technical exercise.
Make it a theme and variations.

Where are the pauses?
The crescendos?
Record it in stereo.
Add some white noise.
Make it silent.

What lyrics go with it?

Ideas for entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, teachers, mentors, coaches, managers, rising stars
What’s the problem?
What do you need?
What do others need?
What do you want to happen?
How does the prompt suggest a solution?

Magnify it.
Look at it through a telescope.
Take a step back.

What’s missing?
Take something away.
Fill in the blanks.
Kill or destroy something.
Let something die.
Let something live.
Fertilize something in vitro.

Stop it.
Start it.
Give it wings.
Cage it.
Let it fly.
Make it break the sound barrier.
Make it go the speed of light.
Make it from another world.
Set it in another time.

What would [name of somebody famous in your field] do with it?
What would someone with nothing to lose do with it?
What would a child do with it?
What can only you do with it?

What are you most afraid to do with it?

Go!

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What’s your favorite creative prompt? (Feel free to contact me and share it.)

Are you a teacher or creative workshop leader? I’d love to hear about any lessons you build around these prompts.

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