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Writing prompts for the global pandemic


Keeping oneself busy, much less motivated, takes a serious effort during these murky, cloistered times. I imagine many of us have a propensity for idleness and catatonia. That said, this quarantine does offer us a handful of undeniable opportunities. If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, but never really had the opportunity, this is a perfect time to start—just don’t fret over not being able to lug your whole computer rig to the nearest coffee shop because, in your mind, that’s the only place where real writing happens: You’re just giving yourself excuses. 

Let me help you all out by offering 10 writing prompts that can help turn this time (largely) indoors into a helpful point of creative inspiration:

1. Write an inner monologue from the viewpoint of a government officer in charge of managing the epidemic, or the nation’s response. How does she litigate responsibility and address the public? Try to embed a hiccup or significant obstacle to management that gives the protagonist considerable anguish and/or worry. 

2. The current virus has pretty commonplace symptoms (dangerous, sure, but not anything too wacky). Try to think of a new virus, but give it a really wacky symptom. Preferably involving disruption of the fabric of spacetime and quantum superposition, but you know, this is your story. I’m just spitballing here. 

3. What if everyone stayed home? Doctors, emergency repair men—even Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not a single soul left roaming the streets. What then? (You’ll have to find a way to deal with the homeless population. Again, I’ll leave that up to you.)

4. Even though many companies, especially small businesses, are suffering from the epidemic, others are undeniably profiting from it. Devise a conspiracy between a company and the U.S. government that keeps the virus in circulation. 

5. You have been offered a considerable sum of money, more than you’re willing to calmly wave off, in order to infect yourself with the virus and be studied by medical professionals. And let’s say, for the sake of the story, that you are of the population for whom an infection is not very dangerous. Write! 

6. Compose an original dialogue between one of the characters in our AP Literature readings, and Siddhartha (from the book by Herman Hesse) that reveals each of their views on the pursuit of inner peace, but then have the dialogue be interrupted by a federal officer who arrests them for disobeying quarantine mandates. 

7. Imagine being a Russian grammarist during the Coronavirus outbreak. How would you reinterpret the syntactic structure of the language in order to reflect the social isolation? 

8. Envision a post-apocalyptic society after the virus ravaged the globe—I mean, really done its worst. What does it look like? (And, since limitation breeds creativity, I will ask that your story take place in a hunter-gatherer tribe in the Caucasus Mountains.) 

9. Imagine being a news anchor doing a segment on something other than the COVID epidemic. WoW, thAt WouLD bE cRAzY!! 

10. Start writing a stupid, bourgie English Victorian novel, set up a sizable cast of characters with a dense web of tension, drama and betrayal, and then kill them all, because none of that matters anymore!

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