50 Writing Prompts

by Barbara Westwood Diehl

In 2020, I wrote 25 writing prompts based on work we’ve published over the years. A small way of saying “thank you” to writers who donated $5 when submitting their work. In 2021, I expanded that list to 40 prompts. But 40 seemed like an odd stopping point. Not as odd as, say, 37, but not enough. So in 2022, I added 10 more. 

Writing “50 Prompts Inspired by Poems, Short Stories, and Creative Nonfiction Published in The Baltimore Review” has been a pleasure. Many hours of revisiting the wonderful work we’ve published, keeping track of the works and basic ideas included, and crafting and proofreading the prompts—but still, a pleasure. Often, the notes the writers included with their work made writing a prompt a piece of cake. Sometimes, I used works as examples of tried-and-true writing exercises that have served me over the years. Other times, I found some aspect of the work—for example, an image or structure—that could serve as a launchpad. Some of the prompts are quite specific. Others are more of a nudge to the imagination. 

An example:

I hope that many of the writing prompts will be inspiring to those who donate. The BR contributors have definitely been a source of inspiration for me, and I’m sure they’ll spark new ideas for my own writing in the future. 

Note that the $5 donation (or the $3.76 that we receive from each $5 donation) is not a submission fee. We do not charge a submission fee for non-contest submissions. We never have. The optional $5 donation is exactly that—a donation that helps fund payments to writers when we publish their work. Every penny. And we hope to increase those contributor payments in the future. 

Thank you!