Writing Prompt: On the Road (London to Oslo)

I sat on the runway in London on the way to Oslo and when I glanced out the window there was an abandoned suitcase on the tarmac. I studied it for a moment, noting the baggage tag and realised that the baggage handlers must have dropped it when they unloaded the previous flight.

I wondered what was inside it and my first thought was of the person waiting at the baggage claim area, watching the carousel going round and round, wondering where in the world there belongings could be. I considered what precious possession might be in there and I tried to imagine be the look of the bag who it belonged to and where they were going.

It was a fashionable thing, made of what appeared to be canvas with an modern, sort of paint splattered design on a beige background. The handle, a light brown colour had the tag which flapped in the wind as though waving, trying to alert someone to its presence.

I flagged an air hostess and pointed out what I was seeing. She climbed into the row where I sat and leaned over me to look out the window.

“I’ll let the captain know.” She said. That was all.

When she disappeared up the aisle, I began to wonder what I had done. With security on high alert, I had images of being the one that told someone to tell someone to handle a bag that could have a bomb in it. I imagined being responsible for some horrible event, of my plane in flames, all because of me.

20 minutes later, the bag and such thoughts vanished.

So, for this prompt, imagine yourself sitting on a plane, witnessing something, anything. Another alternative, write a narrative about the person waiting for their bag to appear. Is there something special they would lament losing?

Safe travels…

Writing Prompt: Moving Day

Have you ever moved house? It can be challenging and said to be one of the most stressful things you can do, right up there with starting a new job and divorce..

I’m going to be moving house soon and to prepare, I’ve been going through my things and getting rid of anything I’m not likely to need when I go. It’s a good way to get all of the clutter out of the house in advance.

What I have found is that as I have been going through this process, I’ve been discovering all sorts of things I forgot I had, old unread books, keepsakes, perfectly serviceable shoes and other bits and bobs.


Try this, go through some of the things you have stashed in your house. See if you find anything you forgot you had. If it is an ordinary object, try writing about how it ended up neglected. If it’s an old keepsake, described how you got it. It would be more interesting to stick to an old gift, photo or something you acquired with other people.


Writing Prompt: On the Road (London to Edinburgh)

As I boarded the plane, all I could think about was how familiar this was all getting, as though I was in some Groundhog Day scenario where I repeat everything over and over. I waited in the queue, I boarded, showed my boarding pass, chose my seat, shoved my bag in the overhead locker, settled in, closed my eye, waited for take off, ordered the 2 wines for £7 deal, plugged in my headphones….waited, was told to turn it off for landing, landed, got off the plane, wandered out…. This is my usual Thursday. Tomorrow, I’ll do the trip in reverse at 5am, substituting wine for coffee.

It’s amazing how much time travel takes from your life, but if love what you do and you have something you care about at the other end, it’s worth it. I know it has been done, but try writing your own version of Groundhog’s Day.

If you could repeat the same day over and over without your actions living in the memory of the people around you, without there being a change in the season or the environment around you, how would you spend your unlimited day?

Writing Prompt: On the Road (Vienna to London)

I’ve had a good trip and got to see more of the city than I expected. The trip over was a bit of a drag owing to a rainstorm that left us grounded in Heathrow for 2 and a half hours. It was made more interesting by the fact that I was seated next to a 5-year old Canadian girl with the energy of a hyper-active boarder collie on speed with a double espresso in its system.


She was sweet and called “Abigail” as I learned through her mother’s attempt to keep her calm and entertained both during the down time on the runway and mid-air. She was sweet, referring to herself as the “Princess of Canada”. Later, when we hit turbulence, “Abby” forgot her enthusiams for flying and chatting to strangers and proceeded to grip not only “Queen Mommy’s” hand, but also my own. Cute kid really.

So, here is sit in Vienna, waiting for the journey home, wondering how I will meet on route. Funny thing, travel brings people out of their shells sometimes, it’s a great social leveller. You’re stranded on a train, stuck on a runway, crawling through traffic, stuck on the list in the Underground.

Next time you’re in transit, see if you can strike up a chat with a stranger, just chitchat. See what you learn…

Writing Prompt: On the Road (Edinburgh to London)

I’m no Jack Kerouac. My journeys are not necessarily about self discovery, but I do find myself travelling quite a lot these days. I’m on a train heading into work for my weekly commute from Scotland to London. (I know…right!?)

However this is going to be a particularly tough week. I’ll be visiting Vienna, Oslo, Malta and Stockholm as well as going home to Edinburgh in between. This might sound glamourous, but in truth, after a while, all you want to do is stay home under the covers and sleep. These journeys for work can be entertaining if you’re with colleagues and clients you like, which fortunately, I will be, but you never quite clock off. It also makes writing a bit tough when you’re time-poor and tired. So, what’s my point? It’s that you must write even when you don’t feel like it. Inspiration is fickle and if you wait for when you’re in the mood, you’ll never do it.

So, here I am, at 8am heading into the office and I’m writing to you even though I should be wrapped up with my coat over my eyes snoozing for the week ahead. I’m listening to Radeohead too – that helps…

This week, I’ll be writing about my travels, who I see, what happens, any adventures…

Try this, during the week, as you go from place to place, whether it’s from home to work, taking the kids to school, hopping on a bus and going to some random place or hitting the shops, keep you eyes open and writing about the journey. Try to make it a travel diary of the day-to-day. You’ll be surprised how much interesting material is buries in what we treat as mundane, day-to-day routine. You just have to look out for it.

Safe travels! Catch you later…

Writing Prompt: The Quiet Hour

I’ve been in a small, but comfortable room in a bed an breakfast in Tobermoray all afternoon. It was good to be in a clean, soft bed with nothing but my book and quiet. From the window I can see a see-saw, a trampoline and a narrow road to a farm behind the house. There is little traffic or noise on this island and I’m amazed that after ten years in Scotland I never found this little piece of peace before.

I could spend a month in a place like this. Once, about twelve years ago, I did have the good fortune to spend a month in a Torlundy farmhouse. I had an endless supply of tea, a view of Ben Nevis and my laptop. Back then, I didn’t have the pressures I have now, and I didn’t realise what I had before me. Now. I seek out quiet little corners where I can think , read and write.

Think about your perfect calm place. Describe it. Next, write a short story about someone who is isolated in a quiet place for an extended period of time. How do they react to being on their own. Be sure to describe their surrounding an how it influences their view of the world.

I’m going to spend the next, calm, quiet hour writing, just for myself  – I might gaze out the window a wee bit….


By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two together in their sleep will defeat the darkness.

– Pablo Neruda

Writing Prompt: Strangers on a train

As I glanced along the train carriage, most people were wearing headphones. I tried to imagine what each of them was listening to based on what they were wearing, but that i really next to impossible.

I examined each of them, what they wore, how they stood, how they leaned into their seats and the state of their bags. Each of them was going somewhere, either to work or to sightsee in London or to some unknown appointment.

This prompt is easy. Two options:

1. Ride a bus or train and pick a stranger. Based on their appearance, make up a destination for them. Where are they going, who are they meeting, what is their history…

2. Write a story about an encounter between two strangers on a train. Given them dialogue and action in that journey, but don’t let the story leave the train carriage or bus…


Have fun.

Writing Prompt: 60 seconds or less

Hi have 1 minute until midnight and I promised myself  would post every day this month. If you only had 1 minute to write something down, what would it be? Write non-stop for one minute and see what you can fit in over that short…

Writing Prompt: The Guest Room

I did not choose the curtains I’m looking at, nor the ornate mirror on the wall or the ancient and solid mahogany wardrobe where my jeans and wool coat hang. I did not wade through rows and rows of wallpaper patterns to find myself staring at the beige and taupe flowers on the walls. The portrait of the victorian lady dressed in a shawl was not something I picked up at an antiques fair though I imagine she would find herself quite comfortable there. This is not my room, but one I’ve borrowed for a time in my family’s home. It’s cozy and familiar and my things are nestled in along the bookshelves and dressers that surround me, but I never quite forget that this room is not me. I’m fond of it, the way I’m fond of an old friend, who’s personality is not quote like my own, but we’re friends just the same, despite our differences.

It’s funny how you can tell so much about someone by the way they choose their decor. You would know my personality in an instance if you looked into my office at home, but the rest of the house belongs to a stranger, someone who chose the furnishings for someone else, as though expecting a guest with particular tastes.

Look around your favourite room. What do the items in it say about you? Is there one room in the house more your personality than others? Next time you visit someone, observe the items in their house, on the mantle, on the shelves and decorating the walls, What can you glean from what is settled there?

This is more an exercise in observation and description. Got the picture in your mind? Good – now go write it down. For fun, create a story about someone who stays at a friends house for the first time. What possessions do they encounter and what new insight into their host’s character do they gather?


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