In college, I minored in English with a writing emphasis. Just like the honey badger, writer’s block doesn’t give a darn that I went to college. There are days, weeks, and even months that go by and I struggle for ideas of things to write about. I’ve spent hours on Pinterest looking through writing prompts. While some are good and worth trying, others are ridiculous. The majority seem to be specifically for elementary and middle school kids.
Despite the craze, I am not a big fan of the game Apples to Apples. A few months ago, I was playing it with a few patients at work and started thinking of ways I could use the cards for writing. With 749 noun cards and 249 adjective cards, the possibilities seemed relevant enough to go out and buy the game. So, I did.
Below are a few Apples to Apples Writing Prompts I have come up with. There are a lot of wild and wacky combinations in the box. If the cards you selected are not inspiring you, go ahead and draw again.
7 Apples to Apples Writing Prompts
(#1) Luck of the Draw
Pick 1 red card and write on that topic. I have my box of Apples to Apples cards sitting next to me and the first card I picked was Sea Sickness. I lived on an island in Southeast Alaska. An island that was only accessible using a ferry or a float plane. I wrote songs on barf bags. The writing I could do just on that one card could fill a book, but it’s not a topic I would have easily thought of.
(#2) Go Green
Pick out 5-10 (or more, if you want) green cards and one red card. The red card is your writing topic and your challenge is to use every adjective (green card) you picked. If you’re stuck and don’t like your topic, go ahead and swap it for a different one. No one’s looking.
Here’s what I randomly selected:
RED CARD: Horseback Riding
GREEN CARDS: Fancy | Weird | Squeaky Clean | Worldly | Easy | Obnoxious |Puffy | Unforgettable
(#3) Twisted Tales
Draw a stack of 5-10 red cards. Your mission is to include each noun you selected in your piece of writing. It could be an essay, blog post, poem, song, journal entry, or anything else you can think of, but you have to include each card.
Take a look at these groupings and tell me you couldn’t come up with something clever:
A Bachelor Party | Vampires | Custer’s Last Stand | San Francisco | The Olympics | Scientology
Morticians | Google | Looking for a Job | A Locker Room | Thanksgiving Day | Mercedes-Benz
Tourette Syndrome | Hiccups |Marriage | Boy Bands | Witch Hunts | The Academy Awards | Having a Baby
Draw 1 Red and 1 Green card to select your writing topic.
Here are a few pairs I just picked out:
Rowdy | Water Parks
Influential | Public Radio
Scenic | Dark Alleys
Miserable | Americans
(#5) Now, that’s just _________!
Select a green card and write about whatever comes to mind. You can use these cards to brainstorm, too. Here are a few examples:
If I wanted to do something in my journal, I could make a page of all the things I find repulsive, disgusting, or offensive. Personally, I like to keep my journal more on the positive side, so I wouldn’t be opposed to sticking that card back in the pile and drawing again. If I was looking for a blog post idea, I’m sure I could come up with just one repulsive thing to blog about.
I could use the word calm to come up with a list of possible blog posts:
How to Calm a Crying Baby
Five Calming Relaxation Videos on YouTube
My Favorite Places for Peace and Quiet
Remaining Calm in a Crisis
Common Characteristics of Calm People
The word dirty could take a writer countless directions. I could channel my inner Mike Rowe and write an essay on the dirtiest jobs I’ve ever done. I could make a list of completely innocent phrases and sayings that someone with a dirty mind would misinterpret. If I wanted to use this in my art/sketch journal, I could get a Thesaurus and make entire page of synonyms for the word dirty. In fact, I just might do this.
(#6) People, Places, and Things
If you don’t plan to play Apples to Apples the traditional way, you could spend an afternoon sorting the red cards into three stacks of people, places, and things. When you’re ready to write, pick a card (or two, or three) from each pile. Imagine the story you could come up with about Vladimir Putin, defibrillator paddles, and a Denny’s restaurant. Or, Clint Eastwood, some mountain goats in the Rocky Mountains, and a speeding ticket.
(#7) First Things First
Pick a card. Any card. Red or green. Write down the very first thing that pops in your head. Like this:
Asthma: CALL 9-1-1!!!!
A Swap Meet: San Diego, 1992
Halloween: Orange plastic pumpkin buckets for trick-or-treat candy
Amy Poehler: Baby Mama
Homework: Hahahha! I’m not in school!
I think I may have to start a column on my blog dedicated to my Apples to Apples writing creations. If you give any of these a try to want to share them with me, I’d love to read what you come up with!