Guidelines can encourage creativity. That might sound rather strange. After all, guidelines remove possibilities by their very nature. However, interested individuals should remember that total creative freedom can lead to decision paralysis.
Meanwhile, a good set of guidelines can give people somewhere solid to start from without being so restrictive that it cripples their imagination. As such, writing prompts can be very useful for getting the best creative writing out of 9th graders and other high school students.
Here are 50 awesome writing prompts for 9th graders
1. What Is Success?
There is neither a right answer nor a wrong answer for this question. Instead, the whole point is to get high schoolers to think about their criteria for success, which can see considerable variation from individual to individual.
2. What Is Failure?
This isn’t as straightforward as just a reverse of the above question. Asking high schoolers to write about their criteria for failure can be more illuminating than asking them to write about their criteria for success, if only because people tend to spend less time thinking about these things.
3. What Is the Greatest Challenge You Have Encountered So Far?
Challenges are relative. As such, high people can write about whatever challenge comes to mind for them. For that matter, they can write about either a challenge they have overcome or a challenge they are still struggling with.
4. What Is Your Proudest Moment?
This writing prompt is meant to get high schoolers to share something about themselves. Their proudest moment could be tied to their greatest success or something else altogether.
5. Have You Ever Had to Give Up Something to Get Something Else You Wanted More?
Opportunity cost refers to the best thing people have passed up on by making a choice. Generally speaking, Investopedia and other sources talk about it in the context of economics. However, it also applies to day-to-day life. As a result, people should have no problem thinking of something even if it is as simple as passing up on a snack because they wanted to leave room for something tastier.
6. Describe Your Favorite Food
It doesn’t matter what high schoolers describe as their favorite food so long as they can explain their choice.
7. Describe Your Favorite Activity
Similarly, what matters here is how well high schoolers can explain their choice of a favorite activity.
8. Describe Your Favorite Place
This could be anywhere from a favorite place to be to a favorite place to experience.
9. Describe Your Favorite Work of Art
Likewise, this could be anything from a song or a sculpture to a photo or a painting.
10. Describe Your Favorite Historical Figure
High schoolers should be able to name at least some historical figures. This is just a matter of choosing the one who appeals to them the most.
11. What Is the Most Interesting Animal?
There are some very unusual animals out there. To name an example, Discover states starfish eat by extending their stomaches into their prey. Undoubtedly, high schoolers can think of more.
12. If You Were an Animal, What Animal Would You Be?
Meanwhile, this writing prompt is more about which animals high schoolers think might be fun, cool, or otherwise interesting to be.
13. Choose a Friend or a Family Member. If They Were an Animal, What Animal Would They Be?
Here, high schoolers are encouraged to think about what characteristics define the people around them and what animals they associate with those characteristics.
14. What Is Something You Would Never Give Up?
Everyone has things they would never give up. Those things can range from principles to prized possessions.
15. If You Could Switch Your Personality Traits, What Would You Take Out and What Would You Put In?
This writing prompt encourages people to think about a couple of questions. One would be which of their personality traits they dislike. The other would be what personality traits they prize the most.
16. What Makes Someone an Adult?
Adulthood is a somewhat nebulous concept. As a result, it can be interesting to get high schoolers to think about what makes people adults, which requires them to think about what adulthood even means.
17. What Is Something You Look Forward to in the Future?
High schoolers are at a transformative point in their lives. It is natural for them to think about what is to come.
18. What Is Something You Regret About the Past?
Most high schoolers presumably wouldn’t have a huge cause for regret. That is fine because even a minor regret counts as a regret.
19. What Is One Thing You Know For Certain About Yourself?
The Harvard Business Review points out that self-reflection is an important life skill. This writing prompt is a chance for people to describe something about themselves, whether positive, negative, or even neutral.
20. What Is the One Thing That Makes You Who You Are?
On a related note, this writing prompt is also reflective, though more concerned with something that has had a huge impact on making them who they are.
21. What Stresses You Out?
The Mayo Clinic mentions the importance of identifying stressors before being able to come to grips with them. As such, one could consider this to be practice for stress management as much as creative writing.
22. How Do You Like to De-Stress?
A natural complement to writing about stressors would be writing about ways to relieve the stress from stressors.
23. How Would You React If You Had to Spend a Week On Your Own?
Just about everyone benefits from having company. However, different people can have different degrees of need for it. This writing prompt asks people to imagine how they would fare without company for a long but not too long time.
24. What Would You Do If You Had to Spend a Week On Your Own?
Meanwhile, this writing prompt is more about asking people how they would spend a great deal of time on their own.
25. If You Could Go Anywhere in the World, Where Would You Visit?
Travel is a popular pastime. Due to this, even high schoolers might have thought about where they would like to go. If not, there is no harm to them putting some thought into the topic.
26. Do You Want a Pet?
Everyone agrees that pet ownership is a major responsibility. Even the CDC is no exception to the rule. This is about asking high schoolers whether they want a pet if they have full responsibility for their pet’s wellbeing.
27. What Would You Get If You Could Get Whatever Pet You Wanted?
With that said, most people find it much more fun to think about what pets they would get if they were limited by neither budget nor other practical considerations.
28. What Is Your Favorite Season?
Different people have different favorite seasons. It can be interesting to see what high schoolers pick and how they justify their picks.
29. Where Do You See Yourself 10, 20, and 30 Years From Now?
High schoolers are at the point when they should start thinking about their life trajectory. Due to this, a writing prompt about where they see themselves at different points in the future can be very fitting.
30. Create an Alien
Fantastical writing prompts can be just as useful as their more down-to-earth counterparts. This one asks high schoolers to come up with an alien life form. What they come up with can say a lot about who they are as people.
31. Create a Holiday
Asking high schoolers to create a holiday can serve much the same purpose, if only because of what it says about their priorities.
32. What Is the Best Superpower?
It isn’t uncommon for fantastical writing prompts to have surprisingly reasonable answers. After all, “best” is very much in the eye of the beholder, meaning people can have very practical reasons for choosing one superpower over another.
33. What Is Something You Are Thankful For?
Once again, this is a writing prompt that encourages a bit of self-reflection, which is often beneficial for personal growth.
34. What Is a Present-Day Issue You Care About?
High schoolers can be surprisingly attentive to sociopolitical issues. It can be interesting to see what they care about when it comes to these things.
35. What Is a Principle You Consider Important?
People don’t necessarily make conscious choices when picking up core principles. Even so, it is good to think about these things from time to time. This writing prompt is meant to get high schoolers to do exactly that by thinking about what guides them through their day-to-day lives.
36. Nature or Nurture?
Nature versus nurture is a long-running debate. It won’t be settled anytime soon, but it can be interesting to see what people have to say on the matter.
37. Are People Inherently Good or Inherently Bad?
Speaking of which, this question is another long-running debate with profound consequences for human society as a whole. Even now, it continues to show up in Scientific American and other sources for very good reasons. The answer isn’t as important as how people craft their answers.
38. Do People Deserve Second Chances?
This is yet another question with answers that say more about the answerers than about the topic itself. Of course, that is what makes it interesting in the first place.
39. What Is the Weirdest Dream You Have Ever Had?
For something lighter, there is always the option of asking people to write about the weirdest dream they have ever experienced.
40. What Is Something You Want to Do Before You Die?
Alternatively, there is also the option of asking people about the things that they want to do at some point in their lives. Some people will bring up something perfectly ordinary. Other people will try to describe the adventure of a lifetime. Either option is valid.
41. Describe the Sight of a Dog to Someone Who Can’t See
Sometimes, simple things are only simple because of shared context. This writing prompt is meant to challenge high schoolers by getting them to think about the best way to describe the look of something to someone who has never seen anything in their life.
42. List 10 Things You Know to Be True
Writing prompts don’t need to be complicated. Even something as straightforward as this can encourage people to write and write well.
43. List 10 Things You Know to Be False
The reverse of the above writing prompt has the same potential for creating writing.
44. What Makes a Person a Person?
Personhood is a complicated topic. For proof, look no further than those championing the idea of animal personhood, as described by National Geographic. It can be beneficial for high schoolers to think a bit about what makes a person a person.
45. What Is Intelligence?
The idea of intelligence isn’t any easier to pin down than the idea of personhood. Due to that, it can also be a good idea for high schoolers to think a bit about the meaning of intelligence.
46. What Would You Choose If You Had to Choose Between Beauty, Health, and Intelligence?
People often have to make tough choices. Thought exercises are a good way for them to think their way through such situations rather than hesitate because of decision paralysis.
47. Describe Someone Who Has Been a Major Influence On You
No one stands alone. As a result, all of us have been influenced by our friends, our family members, and the other people around us. This writing prompt asks high schoolers to discuss one such individual.
48. Describe Something That Has Been a Major Influence On You
Of course, we can be influenced by books, events, and other things, which can have a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. Asking people to write about these sources of influence is just as worthwhile as asking them to write about the people who have shaped them.
49. What Is the Meaning of Life?
There are plenty of sources that claim to know the meaning of life. Unfortunately, it is hard to say which ones are right and which ones are wrong, meaning people are going to have to decide which answers are the right answers for them. This writing prompt is meant to get them thinking about what they see as important in life.
50. What Is the Greatest Challenge of Your Generation?
As mentioned earlier, high schoolers can be surprisingly attentive to sociopolitical issues. Even if they aren’t, chances are good that they have thoughts on the greatest challenges awaiting their generation, if only because of the shared experiences that have shaped them and their classmates.
You can also read: