1. Tell a story about no one doing nothing in no words and never write it down.

2. Stephen King said, “Revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children.” Do you really want to be a child murderer? Write a short story where you pursued writing/child-murdering. How did that feel?

3. Imagine you worked for Merriam-Webster. Your job is to write five sample sentences for a random word that pulls from your real life. Your random word is: Quit.

4. You have a great idea for a book that hasn’t been written yet. Unfortunately, you procrastinate on writing because it’s too hard and someone else writes the book first. Write a scene that takes place in a bar where you humblebrag to your date all about how you had the idea first. Didn’t it feel good to write that scene? Wouldn’t you like that scene to be your actual life?

5. Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult is right. Open up to a blank page in your journal and accept that it can’t be edited. Close the journal. You are done with this prompt.

6. Here’s a real prompt from a real writing book: “You are a military officer responsible for going to people’s homes to tell them that a family member has died in combat.” That’s so dark! Do you really want to write that? What if you just went to a friend’s house and watched Tommy Boy instead?

7. Begin a short story by rearranging these random words from a magazine into a new sentence:

8. Freebie prompt: No writing necessary. You did it!

9. It’s been reported that doctors’ sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 patients annually. Knowing that writing kills, write a 5-paragraph persuasive essay on why your writing is worth other people’s lives.

10. It’s been said that there are only seven basic story plots. Boring! Guess how many birds there are? 200 to 400 billion. That’s about 40 to 60 birds per person. Write down as many bird names as you can think of, and then go and adopt that number of birds.

11. William Carlos Williams said, “I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” He later died of writing in 1963. Write about the benefits of introducing an incurable disease to the world.

12. Discipline is key. For this prompt, only write something that will please everyone. Do not write anything that fails to meet these guidelines.