a woman in a face mask using her cellphone

Five Covid-inspired prompts for writers

I don’t know about you, but writing has been more challenging for me than ever before in this pandemic. It seems that my mind is clogged with an overload of information and emotion, that I can hardly enjoy a flow of creativity. The last two weeks have been especially trying with the Say No To Rape movement in Nigeria and the Black Lives Matter protests in America. It’s really been one thing or another this year. 😢  

If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your writing, here are five Covid-inspired prompts that can fuel your writing. 

1. ‘I hope you are safe.’ 

Think of a story about safety in dangerous times. Perhaps dig into your own life to find a time where you found safety in someone, someplace, or an idea. Did it turn out well? Explore this idea of safety and unusual places where it can be found. Why do humans have to feel safe? What drives this basic human need? 

Think of safety as a commodity and the price as intangible. How much would your character be willing to pay for it? 

2. Quarantine 

Let your mind exceed the confines of the typical definition and usage of this word. Let power be the operative word, in which ‘the danger’ is some type of power that must be controlled or concealed. Think of someone who is afraid of their own power. How do they encounter or discover it? How does it work? Does it change them just as much as it changes others? Does it grow or have limits? Can it end, or is it eternal? Is it transferable? Can it be stolen? 

3. Face Mask 

Again, think outside the box. What story can you tell about things that can be covered? Why is it so important to conceal things? What is so terrible about exposure that people often shy away from it? What types of concealments exist? What kinds of things can be concealed? What kind of things can be done as a result of concealment? Explore story ideas in which concealment emboldens a person. 

4. Sanitize 

Cleanliness they say is next to godliness. In what ways can the concept of cleanliness and hygiene inspire immortality? How can this form the premise of a story? I think of this prompt as an offshoot of the previous one, in terms of the things that are unseen. Can there be a state of total cleanliness, and what would it mean to be rid of any form of impurity?  

Consider writing a story about a character who is frustrated at attempts to be clean. How would you capture their need? Do you know of any cleansing rites? Is there a story there? Or you can think about this conversely: in what ways can uncleanliness inspire immortality? 

5. Social Distance 

I never imagined a world where love must grow in spite of distance. Before Covid-19, proximity was mostly a prerequisite for love—or hate in fact–to thrive. Consider writing a love story in which the characters’ love (or hate) thrives as a result of distance. Let your mind explore the possibilities of location and distance: perhaps one character is physically beneath the earth, and the other above it; or both characters are in the same building but trapped within different rooms.  

Throw technology out of the window with this one and try telling a story about love without social media and the internet. 

6. Lockdown 

This is much like the previous point. Humans thrive on their ability to move from place to place, to interact with family, friends, animals, concepts, and things. But the current situation is one in which we must stay within the confines of our homes and still maintain these interactions. Does this inspire you in any way? 

Can you imagine a situation in which humanity must remain indoors forever? A future in which the freedom to move is a highly priced commodity. How would we sell this commodity? Do you think there’d be different subscription plans for movement? What features would be present in the basic plan? Would there be another planet in which freedom is unhinged, and would our world find ways to get on this planet? 

Think of ways in which the freedom to move can inspire the most gripping story about human interaction and curiosity. If we can live in a world of lockdowns, what’s the highest importance of the freedom to move?  

Is your mind buzzing with ideas yet? I hope you’ve found this helpful. Feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments! 

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Happy writing!

Image credit: Pexels.com

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Lola Opatayo is a creative writer, communications professional, and editor. Her work has been endowed with awards from the Iceland Writers Retreat and MacDowell. She is a recipient of the inaugural Equity Fellowship from Editors Canada and the 2020 Gerald Freund Fellowship. Lola is the founder of WordCaps, where she empowers small businesses and writers with writing strategies and resources.

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