Writers Tools

We write each week at one of our homes. If we meet at Lyssa’s she comes up with the prompts, at Marilyn’s she has the prompts and at Theresa’s, they are hers to invent. We are allowed full latitude for coming up with prompts and we draw from everything from objects around our houses to prompt books and lines of poetry.

We tend to write using open ended prompts vs. prompts that give you a finished sentence or thought. We’d use the prompt ‘one night’ vs. a full sentence ‘one night the man found the woman alone.’ But, having said that, we also break our own rules and next week, we may find ourselves with full sentences!

The important point is to find something that is evocative. We are constantly amazed at how one set of words will draw on archetypal images and give our stories a similar feel to them. Looking for other ideas and resources?

If you would like to set up your own group, Lyssa offers a class:

Writers Group Workshop

Would you like to learn how to organize and run a writers’ group like The Writers Next Door? Writing instructor and Writer Next Door, Lyssa Tall Anolik, can help you get started!

Contact Lyssa to schedule a personalized Writers Group Workshop.

Where: Your home

Length: 2 hours Cost: $100 (total, not per person), for a group of 3-5 people.

In the workshop, we will: establish your group’s mission and goals (e.g. writing just for fun or self-expression, critiquing each other’s work for revision, etc.); create a safe space for writing, sharing, and feedback; learn how to use and practice the free-writing process; how to find prompts and writing exercises; and learn a process for critiquing each other’s revisions for work in progress.


Suggested Sources for Word Prompts:

  • Open a book of poetry and point
  • Use a book of prompts such as: "A Writer’s Book of Days" by Judy Reeves
  • Use a phrase that is stuck in your mind
  • Google ‘writing prompts,’ a wealth of prompt sites
  • How-to-write books usually provide prompt suggestions
  • Refer to any book by Natalie Goldberg

Visual Prompts:

  • Photographs from books or magazines
  • Photos of artwork
  • Objects from around the house
  • Objects from nature: leaves, rocks, flowers

Music Prompts:

  • Put on some music; listen for a minute; begin writing
  • Try different styles and genres
  • We’ve found instrumental music to be the best

Food Prompts:

  • Taste a bit of something, feel the texture and taste: begin writing

Prompts from
The Writers Next Door