Category Archives: Prompts.

These are story ideas and prompts for writers.



stories have their cycles
like phases of the moon
or signs of the zodiac.

history is doomed
to repeat
and repeat
and repeat
and repeat

until it shifts.

a new cycle

heads of state
cry wolf on top
of melted ice cap
ice floats

with no food to eat
no subjects to govern.

maybe there’s a cycle you’re feeling in your own life.
In your own art, or in the world around you.
maybe you’re inspired to go in a different direction entirely.

submit your poems, essays, personal narratives, (relatively) short stories, audio or otherwise artful dissonance for our consideration.

issue seven drops mid-august at our live event
8/14/19 at the highland ballroom.

Deadline for submissions: July 1, 2019

You Are Alive.

At gutwrench., we’re hungry. We are excited. We are hopeful.

It’s time for us to get our hands dirty working on gutwrench. Issue 5.

On a personal note, 2017 was a year of complete tragedy and darkness. Losing my mother to suicide was unspeakably hard. Today, I need this community more than ever before, and it is a privilege to call you friends.

And with these seasons of soul’s winter come the brighter blossoms of spring.

It’s late February in Atlanta and the energy of the city couldn’t be more vibrant. Something is stirring.

I’ve said this before: “Our work is important. Our voices are important. Art is important.”

If you’re reading this,


If you’ve been looking for a reason to pick up your pen, your camera, your paintbrush, your guitar—pick the damn thing up and make a joyful noise.

We only have so much time to birth our ideas, our passions. Time is our most valuable commodity.

Time spent making, living, breathing and consuming art is time well spent. Time spent with people you love is even more artful and precious.

Speaking of time, you have until May 15th to submit your best work. As of today (February 25th, 2018), you’ve got 79 days until the deadline.

That’s 79 opportunities to open your heart, open your mind and express something that matters.


Daniel Lamb
gutwrench. Cofounder

Hear our voices

We will not hold space for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, hate or denial of climate change.

Powerlessness is born of isolation. As human beings, we need to be able to talk to each other. Relationships are born in conversation.

That’s why we started a workshop. It’s a place for people in the community to come together and talk about their writing.

On the occasional evening, you can find us around a table having a cup of coffee and planting our little seeds of hope, to make the writing better, to get the best story down on paper and to connect with one another and foster a sense of community, becoming the Resistance—by talking to each other, loving each other, sharing life one coffee at a time.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we make art UNAVOIDABLE because the regime is doing everything it can to make its rhetoric unavoidable.

We will not allow our soul to be stomped out by the squelching of free speech and the dissemination of propaganda. We must not allow “alternative facts” to replace reality, to be shifted into a real-life dystopian science fiction.

So we invite you to send us your work for the next issue by May 15 because it’s important – to fight authoritarian and fascist ideology with our soul-affirming words – poems, essays, stories – and not just to incite reaction, but to drive at what’s human and fundamentally good within all of us.

Our work is important. Our voices are important. Art is important.

Find your inspiration. Express your passion.


Photo by Cody Williams

…Meanwhile, in the city too busy to hate…

We do things. Many things. We dream, we breathe, we work, we love, we age, we thrive. We focus. We get distracted. We go away. We come back to center.

Sometimes, we keep ourselves on a short leash, tethered to the calendar and the iPhone, keeping our ringers on, trackers going, turning every breathing moment into a quantifiable metric.

Eventually, the pendulum has to swing back—in this case, from compulsive activity and involvement toward a retreat. Retreat, whether it be actually going someplace far away to escape the aggregate of stress in the immediacy of the day-to-day, or a retreat as in a mood or internal decision to become less involved with external distractions, can offer us the space we need to create.

The challenge, then, we offer you is this:

Stop. Just stop it.

via The Mindfulness Exchange


Take some time. Turn off your phone. Sit in a dark room. Don’t do anything. Interrupt the flow of thoughts and activities.


Come back to the pen and reboot your process.


We want to hear about what happens for you, but really, we want your words.


The prompt is “Interruption.”


Send your fiction, audio, video, art, poetry, nonfiction, indescribable, literary, and otherwise gritty little things to us here by March 31, 2016.

Fresh blood on the wall.

Every life has a little bit of horror in it. It’s something that maybe only the most morbid of us like to discuss, but it’s there for everyone. If you prick us, we all bleed. And we’ve all been pricked one time or another, and we’ve all spilled a little blood.

Once I attended a panel of thriller writers in this white marble room at the Decatur Book Festival. I found out the room – now used for weddings and other happy events – was once the main courtroom for all of Dekalb County. When we stood there, the room was 95 years old, no longer the home of any trials or screaming, passion or fighting. Its colors are all cold, but I’ve never been in that room without sweating. It lacks air conditioning. It’s formal. It’s all worn. It’s uncomfortable, haunted.


To me, it is one of the creepiest rooms in the area.

So there I was with writers like Amanda Kyle Williams and Peter Farris, and I asked them to consider the history of the room, the murderers it likely saw, the dark stories it contained within its white walls. Then I asked them to describe the room the way they would in a thriller. Farris spoke up and called the room an abbatoir.

Grant Jerkins was also in the room, and he told me that he liked my question. He agreed the room’s history gave it a haunted feel. It called out for fresh blood on the wall, he said.

So, to commence Gutwrench Journal’s beginning, we invite you to look at the photos of that very courtroom and spill some fictional blood.

For our first official story prompt and call-to-action, write a story – any kind of narrative you want – with at least one scene in that marble room.

Again, remember that this room has housed many kinds of events throughout its history, so that gives you free range to write whatever kind of narrative you want. Maybe it’s a love story, maybe it’s a ballad, maybe it’s a dark tale of crime.

When you’re done, send us your completed, final draft to, and we’ll consider including it on the site or in our first issue.