grade January Writing Prompts

by Mariah Beckman

Published in Issue No. 236 ~ January, 2017

You never know when inspiration will strike, but we all know what it feels like when it doesn’t. If you find yourself stuck this month, tackle one of these topics.

Creative Nonfiction

Like it or not, the Inaugural Day is coming. While we wait with baited breath to hear what our nation’s president has to say on this momentous occasion, consider an arena that you preside over. It can be as literal as a team of people or as playful as a backyard full of garden gnomes and dormant sunflowers. Describe your dominion’s current state of affairs and announce your plans for this place and its inhabitants for the year.


This prompt, coming on the tail end of Christmas, is inspired by Ralphie’s father and his “major award.” Write a short story in which your main character wins his or her own major award. Describe this award, whether it’s real or imagined: what acclaim will they receive, and what did they have to do to get it? Does your character shy away from attention or bask in it? Does this award change your main character’s circumstances? For the better or the worse? In surprising ways? 


We’ve all likened people to animals, minerals, and vegetables. Write a poem in which you describe a person, place or event only in terms of words that describe a fruit or vegetable. Don’t identify the subject directly and see what sensory details you can produce using this technique.
If the results of this experiment are something you’d like to share, please feel free to submit your work to Pif for consideration.

For writers interested in sharing their work outside of the normal submission window (which is typically one to three months’ time), our editors will evaluate all writing prompt submissions independent of other work and include our favorite in next month’s issue. You may submit to both HeyPublisher as well as the Writing Prompt Challenge. If you do so, please indicate in your message or submission that you have done so.

In order to be considered for the Writing Prompt Challenge feature, please submit work to

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Mariah Beckman is a Seattle-based writer and editor. A transplant from the cloudless skies and arid heat of the Arizona desert, Mariah spends most of her time trying not to feel soggy. Mariah holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Arizona State University and spends much of her free time with her beau, her family, and her pot-bellied pig, Bebop. When she’s not pretending to know how to knit, she loves to run, hike, kayak, shop, snap photos, and explore the nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest.