Saturday, 14 November 2015


Internet Writing Sites are numerous and many of them offer Writing Prompts. Do you use them? They are helping me through what some would call Writers' Block and others would see as failure to knuckle down to it.

Some prompts set off an immediate reaction:

'A selfie' found me railing in my journal about the selfish world we live in, the way that so many people seek the company of others because they want an audience and not a conversation. This was definitely therapeutic but perhaps not very creative. It may come in handy if future writing features a grumpy old woman!

'Toe nails painted gold' took me into a world of parties, private swimming pools and celebrations. I had great fun writing about the kind of people I imagine inhabit such a world. The writing was shallow and probably will never be used, but I had fun.

'There was a tiny glass deer on her window sill...' found me inventing a character who had no interest in being told about The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. 'Anyone,' she said, 'with a ridiculous name like that can hardly be taken seriously.'

She - or was it he? - has possibilities. I've marked the page in my journal as being worth a second look.

'A silver Alice band' took me down a path I usually avoid - reminiscence. I feel, unless it's well disguised, it's self-indulgent. I carried on 'til I reached the end of the page and told myself not to return to it.

Finding it tricky to imagine myself in the world of the circus, 'A hair from a lion's mane' really stumped me. Perhaps I ought to have allowed myself a touch of fantasy or science fiction?

On the practical side, I seem to need pen in hand, rather than fingers on keyboard, when I respond to prompts so I use a notebook. Friends and family know about my penchant for beautiful notebooks and keep my well supplied when Christmas and birthday come round.

I can recommend using prompts. Don't be too hard on yourself by expecting perfect prose or well-structured masterpieces. Have a go and see what happens. Suggestions follow:

A red scarf; The sun shone then; New pens; Falling leaves;

Last year's calendar; Slugs; That was when...; Phrenology.

Heather Shaw 

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