The best way to hone your craft as a writer is to write every day. However, coming up with ideas on a daily basis can be a challenge. When you're at a loss about what you should write and you want to practice your non-fiction writing skills, consider these helpful prompts.
Writers hear it all the time: write what you know! When you're at a loss for a topic, return to events in your life to help spark your imagination.
Your Best Moment
Describe the best moment of your life so far. Be as descriptive as possible.
- Where were you? What were you doing?
- Was the moment a surprise or was it something you expected?
- What led up to the moment?
- How did you feel? Why was it so significant?
- What made it your best moment?
- How has it affected your life since?
Your Worst Moment
Describe the worst moment in your life so far. Use the prompts in the previous section, as well as the following:
- Why was it so bad?
- Were there emotions and physical sensations that arose from the moment?
- How did you respond to it?
- Did you learn from it? How did you move forward?
- How do you view it now through the lens of time?
Meeting Someone Significant
Describe meeting someone who played a significant role in your life. This doesn't necessarily need to be a spouse or a significant other. It could be a friend, a mentor, a teacher, or even a stranger who did or said something that made you think or taught you something new.
- Describe the atmosphere at the time. Where were you? What time of day was it? What physical things did you notice or sensations did you feel? What was your mood?
- Describe the meeting and seeing the person at the time. What happened? What was significant about it? What was your initial impression? How did it change during the encounter?
- Describe your perceptions of the other person in detail. What did they look like? How did they sound? How did they smell? What did they do or say?
- Explain why and how this person became significant to you and how they have impacted your life since.
- Explain how you think you impacted that person.
Relaying Sensory Information
You can also use non-fiction writing to relay sensory information, which is an important skill in all types of writing.
Your Favorite Smell or Sound
Describe your favorite smell or sound.
- What does it smell/sound like?
- Why is it your favorite?
- What associations does it evoke?
- How does it make you feel emotionally and physically?
A Work of Art
Use words to describe any work of art, such as a painting or a sculpture.
- Describe the colors and images
- Who is the artist? Talk about the artist's style or work.
- What emotions does the work evoke? What does it mean to you?
- Do you like it? Do you dislike it? Why?
- Is it art? What makes it art or why does it not represent a work of art?
The Dawn of the Day
Describe the world coming awake at dawn.
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What do you smell?
- What do you feel?
You can also convey important factual information through writing. Use these prompts to help get you started:
Describe a Historical Event
Is there an era or event in history that fascinates you? Describe it.
- When was it?
- What happened?
- Who was involved?
- What was the outcome?
- What was its historical significance?
- Why does it speak to you?
Write a How-To
Create a how-to teaching something you are good at that others might like to learn.
- What do you plan to teach?
- Why should someone want to learn it? What skills will they gain?
- What materials will they need?
- How can they do it, step by step? Make sure the steps are easy to follow for beginners.
- What is the end result?
- Offer tips.
Create a Travelogue
Describe a place you have traveled.
- Where did you go?
- Describe the place.
- What did you like about it?
- What did you dislike?
- Discuss sights, sounds, smells, flavors, and sensations.
- Would you go again? Why or why not?
- Offer advice for travelers.
Share Your Passions
You can also share information about things you are passionate about.
Discuss a Hobby
Do you have a hobby you adore?
- What is it? Why do you love it?
- How often to you do it?
- How do you feel when you engage in the hobby?
- Why might others love it as much as you do?
Write About Writing
Most writers are passionate about writing. Share that passion with others.
- Why do you love to write? When did you start? How did you start?
- How often do you write? What's your process?
- How do you feel when you write? How do you feel afterward?
- Offer insight into the things you love about writing.
Writing prompts are just a jumping off point. Use them to help you as you pursue non-fiction writing to hone your craft.