The Benefits of Creative Prompts - How to use prompts for writing, art-making, and creative FUN! Plus a free printable with more than 50 prompts! @

The Benefits of Creative Prompts

When I was in elementary school, I had a teacher who wrote writing prompts on the blackboard (dating myself here) for us to use in our free writing. I’ve since been exposed to many different ways to use creative prompts, and they are one of my favorite exercises to do. I love how the word, “cloud” can be turned into a poem, a short story, a painting, or a fabric pillow. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to playing with prompts.

I decided to do an experiment years ago that involved making 30 different kinds of projects in 30 days. I felt like I was stuck in a creative rut—I was making things, but they always ended up looking the same—so I thought a great way to get out of that rut would be to make myself a challenge. (There’s just something about a 30-day challenge, isn’t there?)

Part of my 30 Projects Challenge was to use creative prompts to make things. I brainstormed a list of words and then started. Another “rule” I made for myself was using up art supplies I didn’t normally touch. You know what I’m talking about here—the supplies you bought for a project long ago and never got around to actually using.

The experiment ended up being a success in terms of I stretched myself and made 30 different projects. They were not all works of art, believe me. The yellow cat made out of clay was particularly amusing but I thought he was cute despite his inability to stand on his own. 🙂 I did discover a new technique that was really fun which involved painting fabric, stitching simple designs, and making a tiny cloud pillow. The best part about the challenge was creating became FUN again.

Why Creative Prompts?

  • Prompts offer constraint and freedom. When you’re faced with a world of colors, materials, and techniques, creativity can actually suffer. A prompt throws everything out except a single word. And yet, when you begin to explore that word, you’ll find that an entire world of creativity is waiting for you. You might find that one word is the start of a short story, a collage, or a painting.

I recently read a Fast Company article about the artist, Phil Hansen. Because of an injury, his art has a specific constraint:  he can’t draw a straight line. But, wow…that limitation has opened up a world of possibility for him. His work is downright breathtaking. (I highly recommend watching his TED Talk; it’s in the Fast Company post.)

Embracing a limitation can actually drive creativity.

  • Prompts are a tool anyone can use. My teachers used prompts from the time I was very young. A small child can usually come up with ideas to write about with a prompt. They also are a great starting point for art expression. With that said, an adult might find using prompts helps them stretch their creative muscles. It’s fun to take a word and try to photograph it (or what it represents.) And as I said above, a simple word can take you on a journey you might not have otherwise ventured on.
  • Prompts can help you come up with different and maybe even, better, solutions. Maybe you’re a quilter and you like a certain pattern. You’re great at whipping it together and like the results. And yet, you kind of wish you could stretch a little and try something new. A creative prompt will help you in that effort to brainstorm new ideas to work with (i.e. smaller pieces, themed quilts, new techniques, etc.) I’ve found that using prompts really helps me when it comes to practicing illustrations and writing. For example, I wouldn’t usually try to illustrate the word, “soft” but given the task, it would be fun to try!

If you’d like to test the waters of using prompts in your own projects, download this printable. It’ll be a great resource for you, and will bring back or heighten your creative spark!

Have a lovely {and creative} day!

Oh, and P.S. If you’re really loving this creative prompt idea, I put together a list of a prompts to use in The Creative Retreat book. That’s just ONE of the many exercises you’ll find inside.

Don't you wish you had more time for your creative projects? I'll teach you how to DIY your own personal retreats that will encourage you and refresh your creative life all year long. This eBook was released last year and has now been completely updated as well as published as a paperback! It's full of encouragement for your creative life, exercises to get you back into creativity, and interviews from 12 creative women. Also includes coloring pages and journaling pages just for fun! Learn more at

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4 responses to “The Benefits of Creative Prompts”

  1. Jelli Avatar

    Jenny, what a great idea! You know what I really am taking from the post- a challenge to use up mine (and my kids’) art supplies.

    1. Jennie Avatar

      Such a great idea! I’ve always tended towards being too precious with my craft supplies (since I was a little girl! I would buy stickers but not want to use them. :/) but have lately been leaving them out purposefully to use up. It’s actually been really fun. 🙂

  2. Jane Holbrook Avatar
    Jane Holbrook

    That TED talk is one of my all time favorites. It changed my life, too. I also love prompts. Thanks for your free download, got it! You are such a wealth of inspiration, thanks a lot. Jane

    1. Jennie Avatar

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Jane. 🙂 That TED talk is one I think I’ll need to go back to many times–so many good thoughts in it! Hope you have a great day! 🙂

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