16 Writing Prompts for Autumn
Make Time to Pause
Many writers are inspired by autumn. The change from summer to fall is noticeable whether you live in a city or in the countryside. Leaves change color from green to red. Field crops are harvested, and the weather turns colder. Stores start decorating their windows in preparation for winter festivities.
Autumn to me is a pause between the hectic heat of summer and the gripping cold of winter. The fall is an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved so far—a time to reflect on the past, the present, and the future. It is also a raw season, dominated by the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. Nature has a way of making us sit up and notice autumn, whether it is through earthquakes, storms, floods, or hurricanes. So, batten down the hatches and use the opportunity to write while autumn storms rage outside.
The video below is of John Keat's poem, Ode to Autumn. He describes harvest time and the changing weather.
Ode To Autumn by John Keats
Mother Earth Both Supports and Destroys
We expect the earth beneath our feet to provide food and support. Sometimes it fails to do this and the result is crop failure and earthquakes. Autumn is the time for both bringing in the harvest and experiencing the effects of increased seismic activity. My first four writing prompts reflect this.
1. Fall fungi: mushrooms and toadstools, where you find them, how you cook them, their life-giving and live-destroying properties.
2. Harvest-time: a time of celebration and abundance, the effect of crop failure, types of crops, food waste, squirrelling away nuts, animals preparing for hibernation.
3. Earthquakes: where and why they occur, preparing for natural disasters, doomsday cults, climate change.
4. Soil Science: leaf mulch, creating a healthy soil, fertilizers and regeneration, invertebrate life and birds indicate earth’s health.
Wet and Windy Days
Autumn can bring heavy rainfall after the drought conditions of summer. Floods mean devastation for some but may also be welcomed by others. River flooding spreads valuable nutrients onto soil making the surrounding land extremely fertile. Strong winds shake the trees and literally create the fall; a woodland carpet of gold, brown and yellow leaves.
Fall weather means a change of clothing; umbrellas, gum boots and thicker sweaters. It is also the start of the new season for some competitive sports. American football, baseball, and soccer dominate both active participant’s and armchair supporter’s lives. Here are four more seasonal writing prompts.
5. Are floods a blessing or a curse? Experiences of flooding around the world.
6. Hurricanes and tornados; the amazing power of nature. Why do some people chase storms? Who are the Hurricane Hunters?
7. Fashions for the fall; catwalk trends versus practical storm-wear. What would you do if there was a hole in your wellie boot?
8. Autumn Sporting heroes; who’s in and who’s out; champions against the odds.
Take a look at the video below and see how sport and the fall inspired a poem by former NFL Films President Steve Sabol.
Oakland Raiders and The Autumn Wind
Flickering Flames of Bonfires and Forest Fires
To me, autumn is inextricably linked to fire. There are garden bonfires, outdoor campfires and fall BBQs. There are also natural forest fires and revenge fires set by arsonists. Small fires are comforting and warming, but large ones are uncontrolled and terrifying.
October is a month for witches and Halloween. Pagan and world religions celebrate the fall with festivities linked to harvest or the new year, for example Samhain, Succoth, Diwali, and Rosh Hashanah. Some of these events have been taken over by commerce and the true meaning behind them has become forgotten. Use this season of reflection to remind yourself of the symbolism behind the festivals.
Do not be afraid to use a wide variety of sources to inspire your writing. For example, watching beauty blogger Helen Anderson’s video (below) made me think about Autumn fashion, Goth and Grunge which are concepts outside my usual experience.
Here are four more writing prompts.
9. Take time out and watch a garden bonfire. Let your thoughts wander as you stare into the flames. What pictures can you see?
10. What do you celebrate at this time of year? Harvest, Thanksgiving, the New Year? Your neighbors, do they have different beliefs or the same as your own?
11. Parties; how to organize one, how to matchmake at one, how to make new friends, themed fall menus and party decorations; turkey and pumpkins.
12. Fall fashion; how to look good when it is cold, young versus old fashions, how to do party hair, memories of a long-gone youthful Autumns.
Autumn Grunge From Beauty Blogger Helen Anderson
Focus on the Small Stuff
There are already hundreds of thousands of poems and essays written about autumn. Is there anything new you can add to this body of literature? Yes, there is. Your style of writing is unique. Your creative spirit is personal to the way you view the world. Your readers will connect with you through your words.
My final four prompts are about focusing on the small events in the fall.
13. Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath (see video below) demonstrates how fall fungi can inspire interesting poetry.
14. Go pond dipping and study the tiny creatures you catch under the microscope. How do they move? What do they eat? Think about their life cycle.
15. “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” Are you already saving for Christmas? Why and for what? Is the family involved in the lead up to winter festivities?
16. Use your local library and thrift stores to read lots of book while the weather is inclement. Reading books of all kinds can be a great source of ideas for writers in any season.
Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath
Color, color everywhere,
Autumn dreams are in the air!— Mary Naylor