What's it about?

This blog has a very specific purpose: it's a place to post prompts for creative writing during the time of the lockdown. Initially it was for the use of my writing group, as we cannot for the time being meet in person - but I want to open it up to anyone who'd like to have a go at creative writing. I very strongly believe that writing is good for you: while you're writing, you're off somewhere else - you've escaped! And that can only be a good thing during lockdown.

Do sign up to be notified by email when a new prompt is posted - usually on Thursdays - and I would love to hear how you're getting on in the comments. Have fun!

Wednesday, 7 April 2021



So - your prompt for next week is friends.

This could be a sort of musing, reflective piece, about friends you have known; or you could focus on particular friendship and describe that.

Or it can be a story. Lots of possibilities there: remember with a story there needs to be a problem - so maybe a falling out; or maybe the problem is that your character finds it hard to make friends? Or it could be about losing touch with a friend - or making friends with someone whom at first you didn't like. It could be a children's story, set in a playground - or about the horrors of teenage friendships that go wrong.

It could be a friendship between different generations, or between a person and an animal. Or it could be about the loss of a friend. (I think one of the most poignant friendship stories is the one told in Puff the Magic Dragon...)

The choice is yours!

Friday, 12 March 2021

Picture post

 You know the drill - choose one of the pictures and write about it. Probably best to make some notes on what you see in the picture - that makes you really look at it. Then think about what the person/people are thinking and feeling: what led up to the situation in the picture, what might follow? Or the one with the window might inspire you to remember a holiday - always good at the moment to take us somewhere else for a while!

Saturday, 6 March 2021



Jewellery. It's been important to us for many thousands of years: I was watching Janina Ramirez's Raiders of the Lost Past last night, and it featured the skeleton of a child, discovered in the foundations of a five thousand year-old city in Turkey; round her wrists were two little bracelets made of beads.

I'm sure you have a collection, large or small. Choose one piece, describe it, and write about it - how you acquired it, what it means to you, what memories attach to it.

Or, if you'd rather, write a story that centres on a piece of jewellery.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

People and problems

 I came across these wonderful photographs on Facebook. I'd like you to choose one of the people from them, give them a name, think about who they were, what they cared about, what their lives were like.

Then I want you to write a story about them - the length is up to you. But remember - this is very important: the basic thing about any story is that you have a character, and that character has a problem. The story is about how the character overcomes the problem, or obstacle. So think about what the problem might be for your particular character.

Here's some information about the photographer.

John Gay (born Hans Göhler: 1909 in Karlsruhe, Germany – 1999 in Highgate, London) Gay attended art college in his home town. In 1933 he left Germany, following Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, moving to England with his friend Walter Stern and Stern's family, including his mother, the photographer Martha Stern.

He settled in London, where he changed his name, and launched a photographic career, finding work as a self-employed commercial photographer, before serving with the Pioneer Corps from 1939 until the end of the Second World War. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Didn't we have a lovely time?

 We may not be able to have days out at the moment, but there's nothing to stop us revisiting days out we've had in the past!

Picture from the Evening Standard

This is another exercise from Jenny Alexander's highly recommended book, Free-Range Writing.

Memoir: Didn't we have a lovely time?

Didn't we have a lovely time, the day we went to... Where? And who went? Think of a few great days out you've had, any time in the past.

Then consider the sentence substituting 'lovely' with horrible/boring/exciting, and think of some examples for each of those.

Choose one and tell the story. Exaggerate the mood of the day; if it was boring, make it sound like the most boring day ever, if exciting, the most exciting, and so on.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Party, party!

One of the many things that seems at the moment like a distant memory is - parties. Personally I don't see this as a loss, as, with very few exceptions, I hate parties - but I think they might be quite fertile ground for writing. Here are some suggestions: 

Write a shortish piece about a party when you were a child, a teenager, and an adult.

Write a longer piece about a party you particularly remember - whether because it was great, or because it was horrible.

Write a story centring on a party. There are lots of parties in films, aren't there? I guess because of the potential for comedy/disaster/arguments/new-found friendships etc.

As ever, strongly suggest starting with a spider chart and jotting down lots of details - the food, the clothes, the setting, the way you/the narrator feels...

Goodness, it gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Looking at poetry

 Watching the inauguration of Joe Biden yesterday, I was hugely impressed by the young poet, Amanda Gorman. Wasn't she amazing? If you didn't see her, I'll put a link at the bottom of the post.

Amanda Gorman

Inspired by her, I thought we'd have a look at poetry this week. In discussion, several of you have said that you're unsure about how to write poetry that doesn't have an obvious, regular rhyme scheme. And Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, has been mentioned - so I thought I'd look for an example by him. This was actually written about thirty years ago - I don't have anything very recent. Have a look at it, and think about the form as well as the meaning. I think it's probably true to say that poetry is a short piece of language which has a pattern: so what's the pattern here? Probably a good idea to read it aloud. 

It would be interesting to do the same with Amanda Gorman's piece - it certainly had patterns - but I haven't seen the text yet. The task follows the poem.

In Clover

This winter, six white geese have settled near the house.

This morning as she polishes the furniture 

and peers across the river to their nesting place

she finds the gaggle floating off downstream, and there

instead is one white egg sat upright in the sand.

The geese, distracted with a crust, are unaware

as Rose, her eldest, in ankle socks and sandals

cradles the egg in the lap of her pinafore

and picks a safe way back across the stepping stones.

She cracks the contents on a bed of cornflour

and paints policemen on the empty halves of shell

to sell as plant-pot-men in next month's flower show.

Later, the six white geese will crane their necks to smell

the fine egg-pudding cooling on the window-sill.


Write a poem of your own, in 'free' verse. It can be on any subject you like, but here are some starters:

  • Winter - this winter in particular. What are your feelings about it?
  • Zoom in, on a particular detail: birds in the garden, first flowers coming up, a rainbow.
  • Spme aspect of the inauguration - perhaps 'The Leaving of Trump'!
The link to Amanda Gorman is here.