Prompts that will inspire you to transform people, places, objects, and memories into stories
Shaun Levin (@shaun_levin) is a writer, artist, editor, bookbinder, and creative writing teacher. He is also the creator of Writing Maps: a platform sharing illustrated maps filled with creative writing prompts to inspire writers to transform people, places, objects, and memories into stories.
Since the release of his first novel, Seven Sweet Things, in 2003, Shaun has published a number of books and creative writing resources including A Year of Two Summers, Isaac Rosenberg's Journey to Arras: A Meditation, and Snapshots of The Boy. He has taught creative writing for over twenty years in colleges, schools, and adult education centers, and run workshops in public spaces. He also founded and edits The A3 Review.
Shaun has always loved to go out into the world to write, choosing places full of inspiration, such as cafes, parks, art galleries, and museums. When he began teaching workshops in London on creative writing, it seemed fitting to host them in the public spaces he so often wrote in himself. 15 years later, Shaun wanted to find a way to gather his resources and teachings and present them in a physical format. Having always been intrigued by maps and cities, he decided to create illustrated “writing maps,” which people could use as writing inspiration.
His illustrated maps are like fold-up mini-workshops that people can carry around with them while out and about. Created to suit writers of all genres and levels, their purpose is to get you writing straight away. “The maps are devised to inspire stories, spice up your writing routine, expand your work, develop work-in-progress, and make sure you have writerly fun in ways that'll surprise you,” writes Shaun on his website. When Shaun took his writing maps to the Frankfurt book fair, he met a Dutch publisher who commissioned him to write three creative guides–one about the city, one about family, and one about food–for those looking to write a book-length project.
Initially, Shaun created Writing Maps specifically for writing in the city. However, over time, the collection has expanded to incorporate a range of different writing prompts and maps that are a lot more specific–Shaun has created writing maps for such topics as writing in cafes, writing about the body, and quiet and mindful writing. Each illustrated map contains at least 12 extended and thought-provoking writing prompts that will help you explore places, people, characters in fiction, the writing process, and life in general. These maps are available both in shops and online.
At the beginning of 2020, Shaun began sharing a series of 52 writing prompts on Twitter using the hashtag #52WritingCards.
“The project started out as a weekly writing prompt for my newsletter subscribers, but by March when we were all going into lockdown, they became a weekly suggestion for creative ways to make sense of these challenging and strange times. For each writing prompt, I wanted to come up with an unexpected (but "simple") way to create stories out of the reality of our lives. Even if that reality was confined and anxious, there were also new and surprising things happening in the way we behaved and connected with others. As writers, we have to use all the dramatic and mundane details of our lives to make stories. #52WritingCards are suggestions for creative writing activities to chronicle and be inspired by the times we're living in.”
We’ve selected eight of these prompts below that will inspire your next story. Head to the Writing Maps Twitter page to discover more.
The following gif shows you how you can transform the images into cards that you can carry around in your notebook so that you're ready to write on the go!