Prompts & exercises

May 28th

  1. List five problems/challenges that you have faced in the last year. Some will be minor troubles (losing your car keys, burning the dinner), while others will be major (a family member going into hospital, someone losing their job). Jot down anything you can remember about those times: how you felt, how you reacted, how your family/friends reacted, how you felt about other people’s reactions eg did they help or leave you to get on with it?
  2. Pick a character from your picture box. Give him/her a minor problem and a major problem. Write for ten minutes, or a complete story, using both problems to show different aspects of your character’s personality. You could start your planning by deciding how they overcome each problem.

May 20th

  • It’s getting hotter here in the UK this week, particularly so in the south of England. I’ve already checked, and I can’t get a paddling pool for love nor money. I think that would really do nicely! So, a couple of weather-related prompts this week:
  1. What is your favourite season and why? Write for five minutes.
  2. What’s your least favourite weather? Create a character who’s the same and write about them having to visit someone they don’t really like in such weather.
  • A friend phoned me to tell me they’d won on the Lottery this week – not a life-changing amount but a few thousand to enjoy. Randomly select a picture from your picture box/file and write for five minutes what that character would do with a £10,000 windfall.

May 11th

Activities for the week:

  1. Read through one (or more) of the stories you have written. Underline or highlight all the adjectives and adverbs. Can you take some of them out? You may need to find stronger verbs. Read your revised story out loud. Hear the improvement?
  2. Write for five minutes from the point of view of a weed, in a battle between spring flowers and weeds.

May 4th

  1. I know at least one person who is learning a musical instrument during the lock-down, following videos on the Internet. Which instrument might you like to learn and why? Look it up on Google and find out its origins.
  2. Here’s a favourite prompt of mine: choose a Beatles’ song and write a story based on the title. There are more than 200 to choose from!

April 20th

  1. Try finding a regular 15-minute slot for the next week when you can sit and write. It could be working on a story you’ve started, or making notes on a new project.
  2. Write for 5 minutes about something you’ve done or are doing during lock-down that you haven’t done before.
  3. Everything’s growing! What are the colours you can see, in your garden or park or along the street? Either list all the colours, or write a poem or a short descriptive piece.


Prompts April 13th

(1) Out of the letters in CORONAVIRUS, find
one 3-letter word
one 4-letter word
one each of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
They are there – really!

(2) What creative ideas have you come up with in the past week? Have you tried something new? Painting, drawing, calligraphy, keep fit, cooking a new recipe, gardening, singing? I found some oil pastels in a cupboard so I watched a YouTube video and had a go – just confirmed that I have no such talent! But good to find out.

(3) Free-write (no planning, no stopping, no corrections, no judgements) for 3, 5 or 10 minutes on SUNSHINE, MINING THE MOON, BREAKING THE RULES.

April 6th 2020

I’m a great believer in a bit of a warm-up before making a start on my writing project of the day. Nothing too strenuous or too challenging. It just helps to get into the writing mode, concentrating on individual words rather than the bigger picture. It’s very much like a keep fit warm-up – a few gentle exercises and your muscles are ready. In this case, it eases the brain into the day.

So these suggestions, just a couple for the first week of our new venture, can be used in whatever way you want: a simple one-minute exercise; do several more on different topics; free-write for 3 minutes, or 5 minutes or 10 minutes. It’s up to you.

  1. A Haiku a day.
    A Haiku is a traditional Japanese poem that consists of three lines:

the first of five syllables,
the second of seven and
the third of five.

They do not need to rhyme.

Haiku can be traced back to the ninth century. They are said to be a way of looking at the physical world and finding something deeper. They should leave the reader with a strong image.

Here are three from Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), considered to be the greatest haiku poet:

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

 Autumn moonlight-
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

 In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset.

(The translation from Japanese doesn’t always give the 5-7-5 syllables)

And here’s mine for our current Coronavirus situation!

We cannot go out
But so many people phone
Much nicer than mail

I’m sure you can do better! Do send me your haikus and I’ll post some next  month.

2. Free-write (no planning, no stopping, no corrections, no judgements)
for 3, 5 or 10 minutes on ISOLATION.


Happy writing!