Writing Prompt: Wings of the Butterfly

We’ve all heard of cause and effect. You turn left instead of right and there is entirely different outcome that ripples into an infinite number of scenarios. Does this make writing easier or harder? Does the idea that you, as a writer can make anything happen make you paralysed with indecision or does it make you feel God-like?

Try this. Start with something very simple. Have your character stand outside a doorway. Inside he will do something heroic. If he keeps walking and turns the corner, he will meet someone that will change his life.

Pick one strand and make him act. What would you have him do?

Writing Prompt: Why do we write?

Although I have this blog, it’s rare for me to encourage people to read my work outside of this platform. I’ve written stories, kept journals and written essays. It’s rare for even my own family to know what’s out there. Thousands and thousands words I’ve written and on the whole it is strangers. I’ve finally put my collection together into an eBook. It was my friends that persuaded me to do it. I’m afraid people won’t like them. Even worse is the thought that no one will read them. So, why do we write if not for an audience? I’m going to keep going, because it’s something I’ve always done.

This question haunts me. Why do I write? It is in the hope of understanding myself and others? Why do you write? Do you share? Do you seek out comment? Try this: make a list of why you write, how it makes you feel and what your ambition is as a writer.


Writing Prompt: Brainstorm

Today is a bit of a struggle. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about, but nothing is coming to me. I’ve spent the weekend relaxing and my brain has gone a bit lazy. So, I’m resorting to an old trick, word association.

Start writing words at random until you have a few dozen. Go through the list and see if any of them spark a memory. Stick with it and get writing. Try writing non-stop for 10 minutes and see where it takes you.

Writing Prompt: A Brief History

Have you ever tired to jot down a your autobiography? How far back can you remember? This exercise is simple.

Write out a list of all the major events in your life.  Try to add a timeline to these wherever possible. For instance:

Got 100% on first science exam – age 11,

had first crush, age 9,

discovered twinkies, aged 5,

got into fist fight – age 8,

won first fight, age 13.

first kiss, aged 14.

first flower delivery – age 14,

flew a plane – aged 23,

climbed up Mt. Whitney – aged 25,

first speeding ticket – aged 16 (three days after acquisition of drivers license).

Rode an elephant in the jungle – aged 29

Learned how to make balloon animals – aged 15

Crashed first car – aged 16

Helped save a life – aged 14

Learned to swim – aged 9

Understood death – aged 5

So, go on and on until you have a pretty complete picture of your life. Once you have this, pick six lines at random and every day construct a narrative about each event. that should keep you busy!

Leave it for a week, go back and read what you’ve read. Does your life sound interesting to you?

Writing Prompt: Tea and Sympathy

I’ve had a bad day. I can admit it. A lot of things went wrong (though not of my doing), just the same, I need to work out how to fix things and try not to let it ruin my night. It’s hard sometimes not to let the daily grind get to you. So much of your life is spent at work, you get bogged down with the troubles of others and the business issues that, when you think about it, really aren’t that important. Unless you’re spending your days feeding the hungry or trying to shelter the homeless, you shouldn’t get too stressed about work. I mean, really, are your actions of the day or of those around you likely to result in the death or maiming of others? No? Then don’t sweat it. Do your best, life moves on…

So, having had the revelation that everything is going to ok, I still need a hug and a cup of tea. Why? Simple – because I got myself all stressed and bothered before I went to the gym to get the endorphins going, before Titch came bouncing up the stairs to greet me and wrap herself around my legs, before I pulled a quilt over my shoulders…I need tea, the missing ingredient. Maybe I’m English after all…

When you’re stressed or sad, what makes it all better?


Poem for the day

‘I like you calm, as if you were absent’ 

I like you calm, as if you were absent,

and you hear me far-off, and my voice does not touch you.

It seems that your eyelids have taken to flying:

it seems that a kiss has sealed up your mouth.


Since all these things are filled with my spirit,

you come from things, filled with my spirit.

You appear as my soul, as the butterfly’s dreaming,

and you appear as Sadness’s word.


I like you calm, as if you were distant,

you are a moaning, a butterfly’s cooing.

You hear me far-off, my voice does not reach you.

Let me be calmed, then, calmed by your silence.


Let me commune, then, commune with your silence,

clear as a light, and pure as a ring.

You are like night, calmed, constellated.

Your silence is star-like, as distant, as true.


I like you calm, as if you were absent:

distant and saddened, as if you were dead.

One word at that moment, a smile, is sufficient.

And I thrill, then, I thrill: that it cannot be so.

Writing Prompt: Hated

There are some people who are in jobs that inspire venom. For instance, traffic wardens, tax collectors, politicians, lawyers, sports referees.

Whatever we might think of these people and no matter how much you’d like to beat a traffic warden with a traffic cone or set a lawyer loose in the exercise yard of a maximum security prison for the criminally insane with nothing but their briefcase as a shield, they are people too. They had childhoods, went to school, have families and hobbies and are more than the sum of what their uniform or job implies. So, put yourself in the shoes of one of these people and try to imagine what it’s like. Maybe write a story about a day in the life of a football ref or a door to door salesman…see what you come up with. Writers, like actors, are students of humanity, they observe, record and try to understand. Have a go, have fun…

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