31 invitations from the muse: Prompts and games

You could think of this post as a hallway lined with doors, 31 of them, to push open when you want to want to enter a new space in your writing.

It's a month's worth of writing prompts—lines, games, images. The visual prompts give me particular delight. They're the work of two of my favorite creative people, David Glynn and Lynell George. David's are the color photos, Lynell's the black-and-white.

I hope you lean into them, and all of the entrances you find below, and discover something that surprises you. 

LM under chiffon look_6732GLYNN

The muse says: Start here

1. What's scribbled in light on her body? What has she just released?

Opening lines and phrases

2. Everything I’m about to tell you is a lie.

3. Forgetting is the fourth stage of memory, the fifth stage….

4. Window, cigarette hole, sky—

5. When I held it in my hands, it….

6. Nothing survived but the ….


7. The chairs.

8. Something cracked.

9. The Comforter, the Mind’s Promise, the Beautiful Order of Thistles…. (found in Mary Ruefle's "Madness, Rack, and Honey.")

10. This is what he would bury:

11. They had no words for ____ so they ____…..

12. It looked like a ____ when it finally landed....


13. The questions.


Instructions for poems and other pieces:

14. Place a sheet of white paper under the vase of flowers to capture the scatter of pollen. Read the words inscribed there.

15. Find a seat in a crowded place and let conversations flow past you like wind. Write down the secrets you hear or imagine.

16. Scry through the belly of a glass of cold white wine. Write what appears in the glass.

17. Ask a question and flip through a book, stopping the pages with your finger and finding your answer in the words beneath it. Write the question, and the answer.

18. Type a section of something you’ve written into the “Electronic Poetry Kit.” Make poems by rearranging the words. Make a list of missing words you long for, words you don’t want to live without. Use them to make lines.


19.  Something delicate, or dying.


Stolen titles awaiting new bodies

20. Dark Wild Dream

21. Becoming Animal

22. Bitters

23. A Ruin That Isn’t  a Ruin



24. A fact. A mood.

25. Seven Days of Falling

26. A Photograph of a Plate Glass Window

27.  A Walk in Victoria’s Secret

28. Woman With a Yellow Scarf

20. The Book of Questions

30.  A Guide to Forgetting



31. The light, the globe.

That's enough for a month, if you took on one a day.

Bonus: A trove of amazing toys and prompts you may not know about—for all the days after.

(See more of Lynell's work at lynellgeorge.com. Find more of David's at glynns.com.)