So you want to write a nonfiction book. Good for you! What are you going to write about?
I know. That question stumps most everyone.
What indeed? Coming up with creative nonfiction ideas isn’t for the faint of heart.
Nonfiction is a big, broad genre of book writing, and narrowing it down to an area in which you have some expertise, background, or interest can be daunting.
And even if you kinda, sorta know what you want to write about, you’re not exactly sure how to begin or how to get your creative juices flowing.
That’s why we’ve created a varied list of nonfiction writing prompts for you — so you can narrow down your choices or pinpoint precisely the type of nonfiction you want to write.
108 Creative Nonfiction Writing Prompts
Ready to get started? Read through this list of creative nonfiction ideas, and make a note of any that resonate with you.
1. You’ve developed a new creative side-hustle, and you have enough business to bring in at least a few hundred (or even thousand) a month.
2. You know how to prepare for a specific kind of disaster, and you want to make others aware not only of the imminent danger of that disaster but how best to prepare for it.
3. The Missing Ingredient: What is one thing most people forget or overlook when making or doing something?
4. This is something most people don’t know about ______.
5. You could be more (or less) ______.
6. You need more _____ in your life.
7. Discontent is not (always) a lack of gratitude. Here’s why.
8. The right music can change everything for you. Here’s how.
9. Swap this for that and see how it changes your life!
10. Be your own devil’s advocate? Why would you want to do that?
11. What on earth does logic have to do with creative writing (or creative anything)?
12. Are your morning/nighttime habits keeping you poor? Or did they for a while?
13. How do you go on after your best friend dies (or leaves you)?
14. What one thing could you add to your workspace to make you happier and more productive?
15. What one thing in your life would you love to change? And what can you do to change it — and help others do the same?
16. Your doc says, “No more alcohol for you!” So, you look for ways to relax without it.
17. You used to take everything personally — thinking everyone was comparing you to someone else.
18. Why do bad things pile up the way they do? And what can you do about it?
19. Why would anyone want to live in <city/state/country>
20. Yeah, your desk is cluttered — and you’re okay with that.
21. Your oldest kid is driving you nuts, and you have to admit your role in that.
22. Your pets have all but destroyed an entire room in your home.
23. So, you want to do something dangerous (skydiving, parasailing, bungee jumping, learning parkour, etc.).
24. You’ve always wanted to travel to ______. How can you afford it, and what do you need to know?
25. Investing is a scary business. How do you even begin?
26. You’re moving, but you can’t find a buyer for your house. Why not rent it out instead — and how do you do that?
27. You have no Christmas budget, but you want to make this Christmas one your kids will remember fondly.
28. You learned something from writing your last book that has changed the way you write them.
29. Everything started to fall into place once you finally narrowed your focus to the kind of writing you really want to do.
30. When you changed this little thing in your diet, you started dropping weight faster than ever before.
31. Something you didn’t know about your body has been working behind the scenes, turning your own efforts against you.
32. Caffeine has always been one of your besties, but now your doc says you have to cut back — or even cut it completely from your diet!
33. Your path from the 9-to-5 job to full-time self-employment hasn’t been like the ones described by the experts whose books you’ve read, but you know you’re not alone.
34. Serendipity is nice and all, but something else is responsible for your success, and you want others to know what that is — and how they can make it work for them.
35. When was the last time you actually kept a New Year’s resolution? How did you keep it, and what difference did it make?
36. How big is your daily to-do list? And what kind of daily planning works for you?
37. What changes have you made to your monthly spending that have made a huge difference for you?
38. Desperation (i.e. lack of money and/or time) made you do it. You learned how to do something yourself, you did it well, and people are saying good things.
39. One of your kids has said, “I don’t read. I have ADHD.” You have ADHD, too, though, and you read plenty. You become determined to find out if something else is going on.
40. Adding this spice to every day’s menu has made a big difference in your health — as well as your enjoyment of cooking.
41. Only when you discovered and addressed a deficiency in a certain nutrient did you begin to feel more energetic, alive, and creative than you remember ever feeling before.
42. Your doctor suggests a new therapy for your condition but warns you that it could damage one of your other organs.
43. No one told you how hard it would be to withdraw from SSRIs (or how long it could take), but through trial and error, you found a way.
44. Everyone around you is telling you to quit taking your SSRI, but you know that — somehow — it has actually helped you.
45. Your kids have special needs, and you’re fed up with people making assumptions about their intelligence or their parenting when they act up in public.
46. You find an approach to homeschooling (or partial homeschooling) that restores your kids’ curiosity and love of learning and creating.
47. Your oldest wants to drop out of school, because so-and-so did it, and “Look how successful he is!”
48. Your marriage was deteriorating until you made this one, small change.
49. For years, all you had to do was look at a donut, and you’d gain weight. Then you changed one thing
50. You made a goal: “In the next 100 days, I will ______.”A hundred days later, you’ve exceeded your goal.
51. The first day of that “staycation” you wanted has arrived.
52. You went on a mission to where?
53. You’ve increased your own self-confidence and helped others to boost theirs, too.
54. Ditching both Netflix and your gym membership has changed your life for the better….
55. Changing your beliefs about something has caused some tension at home but has also made it possible for you to earn and accomplish more than you used to think was possible.
56. Childhood memories and the emotions attached to them have held you back for years, but not anymore.
57. Your high school education led you to college, which led you to a job you hated but felt stuck with for years.
58. What app or online tool has changed the way you do business?
59. Families can take a heavy toll on a house. What repair work have you had done to restore your home and what have you learned to do yourself?
60. Your second grader hates school and thinks reading is boring.
61. One of your kids is a writer and wants to take a page out of her main character’s book and dye her hair purple.
62. One of your kids has come out to you as gay, bisexual, or asexual.
63. One of your teenage kids has chosen a different religion and no longer wants to go to church with his family.
64. A brush with death has changed your priorities, and you’ve made some drastic changes.
65. You’ve hit your forties and found a list you made 10 years ago of the things you wanted to accomplish during your 30’s.
66. You’ve had an epiphany in the shower, and after exploring it with a journal entry, you’re thinking, “This could be a book!”
67. You’re looking at a goal and thinking, “What kind of person do I have to be to accomplish this goal in the time I’ve set for it?”
68. What does it mean to be neurotypical as opposed to neurodiverse?
69. How has marriage changed your perception of married life?
70. You learn that one of your kids is autistic, and you and your spouse have very different reactions to the news.
71. You and your spouse have opposing beliefs with regard to gender differences and sexual orientation, and it’s becoming a problem.
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72. You’ve just learned to fix something in your own house and have saved yourself thousands of dollars.
73. You can’t shake something from your past, but you’re not sure if you even remember it correctly anymore.
74. Your spouse doesn’t seem to really care about what you have to say, and it really bothers you.
75. Your significant other has started writing erotica and is making a nice, steady income with it, but you’re conflicted.
76. You’ve been writing books for years, and then your SO writes a book and sells more copies of his/her first novel than you’ve ever sold.
77. You’ve found the perfect quick remedy for canker sores, and it uses cheap and easy-to-find ingredients.
78. You’ve never really been a hat person until you saw a hat you liked on someone else.
79. You and your SO can’t agree on wall colors for your new home.
80. It all started when someone told you that you needed a professional photo taken.
81. Everyone should take a road trip, because…
82. Of all the superpowers, this would your #1.
83. You found the perfect secluded vacation spot/s with great food, and they’re not crazy expensive.
84. You’ve always had a knack for losing weight — right up until your mid-forties.
85. You have a gift for dismantling and countering other people’s arguments.
86. One of your kids has gotten her first job, and you want to help her budget her earnings without being too controlling.
87. One of your kids has just announced an engagement to a person you don’t particularly like or trust.
88. Your friend has challenged you to spend a week unplugged — no internet, no cable, and no phone.
89. Your in-laws have come over to help with house projects, and since your spouse didn’t tell you they were coming, the place is a disaster.
90. You really do want to lose that weight — really — but your daily wine habit is hard to kick.
91. Oh, the joys of pet ownership! Your new fur-baby has moved right in and claimed the house as his own — with multiple visual tokens of acceptance.
92. Your spouse wants to be intimate, but you’d rather avoid it.
93. Your friend wants to start a business with you. You spend hours talking about this and addressing the main obstacles, and finally, you go for it.
94. You’re so good at writing academic papers that your college classmates start offering to pay you to write their essays and reports for them.
95. Your in-laws vilify you as a traitor because of the way you voted, and their petty attacks even extend to your children.
96. Every time you go to a potluck, people come up to you and beg you for your recipe. You’ve decided to create your own potluck recipe book — with a unique twist.
97. You’ve attended a fascinating seminar about being “limitless,” and while you’re still a bit skeptical, you really want to believe in the speaker’s message. You go all in, and things start changing for you.
98. You’re fed up with your health-obsessed teenage son constantly telling you you’re out of the foods he likes, and when you ask him to try something else, he angrily reminds you that it’s not his fault he can’t tolerate those foods.
99. Your kid wants to eat nothing but croutons and potato chips, and you can’t get him to try anything else (ironically he’s the same child who later grows into the health-obsessed teenager in the previous prompt).
100. You’re out driving and your car has a flat. You call your spouse who basically throws up his hands, sighs dramatically, and tells you to call AAA. You get a tow, and your spouse (who is at home) suggests you learn how to change a tire.
101. After twenty-three years of adhering to your religious beliefs, you have more questions than ever, and no one can answer them in a satisfying way.
102. Your best friend, who never went to college, is earning much more than you are and is loving life more. You meet him for lunch and ask how he’s gotten to where is, and what do you have to do to get there.
103. The staff at your kid’s school have called to tell you they’re having trouble with your daughter again because she just doesn’t seem to respect the authority of her teachers or other school staff.
104. You and your spouse go to an IEP meeting for your son, who has been miserable at school and who is tired of being micromanaged by the staff.
105. You’re at a pre-wedding retreat at your church, and when the leaders announce a break, your fiance heads out the large glass front door and lets it close in your face.
106. Once again, you’ve played the peacemaker at home, and relative tranquility is restored, but your relationships with your spouse and with your kids has suffered, and you’re not sure which has done the most damage: the open arguments or the forced calm.
107. Throwing fancy brunches and dinner parties is one of your favorite things, and people come to you for ideas on how to make theirs better. You’ve decided to write a book on hosting unforgettable brunches and dinner parties.
108. You’ve never forgotten how you loved the food when you lived in, and you’ve collected a variety of recipes, along with the history behind them.
Did you find some nonfiction topics to write about?
We hope our list of writing prompts has primed your creative pump and that one (or more) of them is on the shortlist for your next book.
If you don’t feel confident that your topic is one that readers are looking for, check out our post on tools and resources to help you make the best choice.
Even if you use these prompts only as creative nonfiction writing exercises, you won’t be wasting your time.
You’ll not only have a better idea about possible book topics for the future but also you’ll improve your writing and hone your skills at fleshing out an idea.
All of your efforts contribute to your success as a writer and your sense of confidence as you begin outlining your next nonfiction book.