1. Write about the life you would be living if you weren’t living this one: invent another job you would enjoy, another place you might live, and other activities you might engage in, and write about a typical day in this life.
2. Remember a school you attended (elementary, high school, even a college), and describe the school, starting with the outside of the building, then walking into the building, finding your way down the hall, entering your classroom, sitting in your seat, and observing all that’s happening. Pretend your writing is a movie camera that follows you into the classroom.
3. Go to a photo album in your home, and find a photograph that really grabs your attention. Write about what was happening when that picture was taken, and also, about the story behind the story.
4. Find an object in your home that has great meaning for you – a gift, or something you found or bought at an important moment in your life. Write the story of this object: how it came to you, what it meant to you then, what it says to you now.
5. Write from the point-of-view of a piece of furniture in your home or in the home of a close family member. Tell what you’ve experienced and witnessed from the viewpoint of a couch or refrigerator or bed or piano, etc.
6. Take a favorite greeting card you received, and write about what the picture on this card, or the words within, mean to you. If the picture is of a landscape, place yourself in that landscape, and write about what happens. If it’s a picture of an object, person or animal, imagine that object, person or animal is near you, and write.
7. Make a list of all the things one or both of your parents regularly said to you (i.e. “Pick up your shoes,” “A penny saved is a penny earned,” etc.). Take one saying from your list, and write about what this first meant to you, and what it means now. How have you found this saying to be true or not so true for you?
8. Using the phrase, “I used to be……but now……” fill in the blanks. Feel free to either just write the phrase one or twice, seeing where it leads you, or write it repeatedly, letting it lead you to many possibilities.
9. Write the earliest memory you can recall. Tell as much as you can remember – or conjure up – about what you saw, felt, hard, realized at that time.
10. Write a letter to someone you love, living or passed on. Tell this person about your life now, and what you want him or her most to know about you.
11. Describe yourself as a landscape: a forest, a mountain, a prairie, a swamp, an ocean, whatever comes to you. Wander through this landscape in your writing, describing what you see and what you discover.
12. Write about a favorite childhood toy or book. Describe yourself first receiving this gift, and then tell the story of how you played and lived with this gift over time.
13. Imagine your life as a river. Tell where you started, and share where you flowed, paused along the way, merged with others, found deep water, ran fast or slow, until you arrive at where you are now.
14. Make a list of everything you believe in or enjoy most, focusing especially on what you know through your senses: what you can see, touch, taste, smell or hear. Get as specific as you can (not just hot chocolate, but hot chocolate made with cream served in a thick, warm mug).
15. Write the story of your life as a garden. What’s planted there? What grows wild? Who works in the garden, and who plays and naps in it occasionally? Tell of what plants, animals and people live in or visit the garden. And write about how the garden is tended.