December 2017 and January 2018 Writing Prompts

The end of a year and the imminent start to a new one prompt two responses: reflection and looking ahead. Reflecting on 2017 has helped me put my writing successes and failures in perspective. In my head, I, too often, equate creative writing with fiction. When I look back at the writing I did in 2017, I realize that it was all creative, even though very little of it was fiction. Taking research and an interview with an engineer and turning it into a case study worth reading is creative writing. Inventing new test questions for a communications textbook is creative writing. Turning 7000 frantically typed words chronicling a day-long series of seminars and turning them into a 2500-word summary is creative writing. Editing/rewriting ad copy so it sells the product and the company is creative writing. All this writing has kept my brain in gear and taught me a lot over the past year—and I’ve been paid. A definite bonus.

So, looking ahead, what are my plans for 2018? I’m going to become a student again. I’ve invested in a course that focuses on middle-grade and YA fiction, and I’m going to work through it step-by-step. I have a journal set aside especially for the course (a must for an inveterate journal collector.) The plan is to work on it in the morning before I check email and Facebook. A much better use of my waking time. It will be nice to look at the clock at 9:30 and realize that I’ve actually accomplished something other than watching cat videos and going down YouTube rabbit holes–and don’t talk to me about those quizzes that determine my spirit animal or the colour of my aura or the Celtic meaning of my name. Yup, I love them all.

I’m looking forward to starting my writing course when all the family is back at work and into their usual routines again. This week is all about relaxing and reading my Christmas-gift books–and clearing my desk for a positive start to 2018. Through 2017, my laptop and necessary resources for various projects have occupied increasingly less space on my desk and the piles around them have grown higher. I have garbage bags at the ready–and I intend to fill them!

Because I combined my long overdue December prompts with those for January, today, there are double the prompts to launch your creative new year. I hope your reflections and plans for 2018 help bring you closer to the creative results you are dreaming of.


Use one, some, or all of the words in one of these groups to write a story or poem.

  • Lights, star, snow, trees, book, red
  • Message, hurt, open, candle, door, white
  • Wind, sky, grey, ice, worry, urgent, hurry
  • Box, bus, snowman, house, wreath, green
  • Table, candle, package, fear, cold, cabin, black
  • Water, sunshine, window, gulls, breeze, blue, hope
  • Grass, cliff, rocks, edge, running, love, yellow
  • Palm trees, beach, escape, broken, memory, pink
  • Child, swing, remember, grandfather, Old Spice, joy

Use one of these opening sentences to start a story.

  • I think Santa hates me.
  • That red stain was not cranberry sauce.
  • The river’s surge collapsed the bridge. We were wet, hungry, and trapped.
  • A cool hand touched mine in the dark.
  • I fell asleep in front of the fireplace. When I woke, the fire was out and I was in ….
  • The snow swept across the road in horizontal waves. I had to stop.
  • A tropical island wedding seemed ideal until someone murdered the bride.
  • The chief arrived with new orders.
  • It wasn’t just his/her smile that made him/her irresistible.
  • The puppy, shivering and crouched by the wrecked car, was the only creature dead or alive that the rescuers found that night.
  • This was not a good time for the power to fail.
  • The silence was starting to get to Henry.
  • Today I broke my all-time record for saying the wrong thing.
  • My home town didn’t exactly welcome me back. I wasn’t surprised.
  • The dark rangers crested the hill. They were closing in.
  • Next time that I pretend to be someone else, I’m going to think about it first.
  • Cheating was not an option.
  • The saying “less is more” does not apply to chocolate.
  • Never open the door to a rain-drenched ex with a head cold and a kitten.
  • This situation had nothing to do with who was male or who was female—it was about power.

Here are some titles that might inspire a story or two.

For Love of Him, Moonrise, The Music Box, Red Defenders, Keeping the Faith, The Book of Why-Not, Seven Mysteries, Last Day of Freedom, The Stars’ Promise, The Fire, Castle High, Thin Ice, Last Train to Wonderland, Science Fair: Worst Day Ever, The Unwelcome Mat, Drums, Turn Around, The Hawk’s Cry, Two for Danger, Snow and Ice, Mars Traveler, The Sea Calls, Music and Mayhem.

Below are some snippets of dialogue. See if you can imagine a scene around one or more of them.

You took the last one!



You’re awfully quiet.

I’m thinking.

What about?

Why we haven’t seen Henry since Linc came back to town.


I miss her.

We all do.

She didn’t think about us before she left.

Maybe she did. We’ll never know.


Number 46!

Yes, sir.

Keep your mind on your work.


When are you going to be finished?

Why do you care?


I told you that in secret!

I didn’t tell anyone. Honest.

Then how did _______ find out.


Did you say something?

I thought you did.

They turned and looked behind them. The cat was smiling.

I wish you all the best for a happy, healthy, and writerly 2018.

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