Story starters, or writing prompts, are a staple in the teaching of creative writing. I've never been a fan of this method of jump starting the writing process. I'd rather use my time and energy on the work that I've already begun. But sometimes, trying something new can make your brain work in different, productive ways.
I've talked before about how Pinterest is a great writing tool, for games like Speed Pinterest and collecting inspiring images for your work in progress. Switching from the verbal to the visual is a fun way to recharge your mind. (I swear I'm not shilling for Pinterest; I'm just another obsessed fan.)
The most recent way that I've found to use Pinterest is in creating a story through pictures, using a story starter. The Scholastic Story Starter Machine is a great option. Yes, it's meant for children. But it's fun! The machine generated prompt was: "Write a funny story about a million year old inventor who is shipwrecked on a desert island."
The result was The Shipwrecked Inventor. I left out the funny part of the prompt, because I only write short stories about sad things. It's a problem. Since I wasn't taking the whole thing very seriously, there was no pressure to create something "good." I thought I'd left that mind set behind in high school. So, basically, yay!
I'll definitely be creating more Pinterest stories via prompt, despite the fact that Pinterest's inability to rearrange pictures on a board can be intensely frustrating. You have to start with the first part last. Even then, Pinterest positions pictures visually in a way that doesn't lead the eye from one to the other in the order you've arranged them. But again, creating a mini-story backwards is another way to stretch before starting your real writing.