Paper/work

Each week I will set a kickstarter theme or idea, something to get you writing, a prompt to use as you like. Keep writing!

Week 39. A Printer’s Devil was a printer’s apprentice who performed tasks such as mixing ink and fetching type. A Powder Monkey, usually a young boy, carried gunpowder to the gunners on a military sailing ship. Create an unusual job and give it a strange title: who did it and what did it entail?

Week 38. “Ustopia is a world I made up by combining utopia and dystopia – the imagined perfect society and its opposite – because, in my view, each contains a latent version of the other.” Margaret Atwood. Create your own Ustopia.

Week 37. The evening hour… gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. From Street Haunting by Virginia Woolf. An appropriate theme for Hallowe’en?

Week 36. Write an instructional poem How to… e.g. See Helen Mort’s How to Dress from her collection No Map Could Show them, or some of Julia Darling’s wonderful poems e.g. How to Deal with Terrible News.

Week 35. Write a Haiku for every month – traditionally three lines  of 5-7-5 syllables which focus on a brief moment in time; a use of a seasonal reference, a colourful image;  present tense and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination. Here’s a wonderful example by poet and lyricist David Bradford.

Twelve Haiku Mourning a Death – David Bradford

January brings winter’s inch of ice
Horse in the yard waits
For nothing

Look, here is Death
February floods the marsh
How expensive these flowers

March comes banging the door
Better get down to grief’s black art
At once

April gets its pig’s snout over the wall
Prying into
The slaughter shed

Come flowering May
So white, so lovely, May
Sweet airs remembering thorns

Up we go skylarking
Where June’s a blue bubble
At the grave’s lip

All July let the great flag of the sky
Beat  clutch  batter
And wound me

Slither snake-of-infinite-skin
Through August’s sun-struck
Collapsing fields

Moonfall drags night’s catch of stars
A bright shroud
For stubbled September

Cold dawn
A table under trees
A wine glass empty
Full  shattering  October

November
Leaves bleeding from the trees
Blood rusts to earth
Earth iron to the core

December draws its bow
Arrow! Sing into the almighty silence

Week 34. Write a manifesto for your household

Week 34. As this is the beginning of Stoptober, why not create a Ritual or Celebration for a Big Change in your life, such as giving up smoking, or Divorce, first period, last period, work…

Week 33. Open a book at random. Use the first full sentence as your beginning…

Week 32. Imagine your pet can write – a will, a letter, a diary, a holiday packing list… 

Week 31. Lost things

Week 30. Read My Mother’s Handbag by Ruth Fainlight. Note effective use of the senses. Write your own handbag or other object e.g. My Dad’s Torch poem/flash fiction.

Week 29. I have never… make a list of things you’ve never done or think you never would. Now write about doing one of them. Be bold.

Week 28. Take the end words of each line in a poem you like, now use them as your line beginnings or endings. Use in any order you like. This is interesting to try with rhyming words at the end. You could try using them as internal rhyme words too.

Week 27. Mondegreen – a mishearing of a phrase that gives it new meaning. Writer Sylvia Wright said that as a girl she had misheard the lyric “…and laid him on the green” in a Scottish ballad as, “…and Lady Mondegreen. I misread The Alteration Service as the alliteration service – what would that offer? What have you misheard/read?

Week 26. Waiting – for the train, for the rain to stop, for Godot – what are you waiting for?

Week 25. Walking gets our creative brain working. Don’t sit at your desk looking at blank paper, go for a walk, notice what’s around you. Use place names to create the name of a character: Kirk Deighton, Red Hut, Pink Lane, or to suggest a story title or event: Pity Me, Wideopen.

Week 24. I tend the mobile now/like an injured bird, “Text” Carol Ann Duffy. What’s your relationship with your mobile?

Week 23. Write a poem entitled A poem in which… (I wrote A poem in which I bring back the dead) or you could write ‘A story in which…’ instead

Week 22. Pleasures – important in dark times to list simple things that make us glad to be alive. Radio 4 started this week with a look at Bertolt Brecht poem Vergnügungen, a simple list poem that begins First look from morning window… What gives you pleasure?

Week 21. Some people… see the poem by Rita Ann Higgins

Week 20. Translations from Nushu. The script, Nushu, represents the language spoken in Jiangyong Prefecture in the rolling hills of southern Hunan Province. Women, who were denied education for many centuries in China, used it to share feminine feelings, including fears about arranged marriages, husbands and, of course, mothers-in-law, under an oath of secrecy. Imagine you’ve translated a poem or letter.

Week 19. Describe an outfit you once wore to a significant event, describe it in detail, make it a metaphor for what happened i.e. you met your first love, you attended your grandfather’s funeral, you had an important interview etc.

Week 18. A Wind Phone Who would you phone and what would you say?

Week 17. Make a list of alliterative word pairs: so-and-so, pretty penny, pay and display, round robin: turn one or more into a poem or short story – have fun with it.

Week 16. Turn your fear or other emotion into an animal – what does it look like, how does it move, where does it live, what are it’s habits? Write a poem and create the mood of the emotion.

Week 15. Describe a door in detail – does it lead in or out, what’s behind it, what’s going to happen when it opens? Who goes through it?

Week 14. Using a photograph/postcard: write five sentences about what you can see in the picture. Then five sentences about what can’t be seen. Now place yourself or a character in the picture and write a scene drawing on your ten sentences. Here’s a picture to get you started

Week 13. Imagine having Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: People feel as though their bodies have been altered in size and they have visual hallucinations. Write a story or poem where a character experiences distorted time, space, and body image.

Week 12. Write an Urban Legend – a modern cautionary tale, you know the type: I heard it from a friend who heard it from an acquaintance etc. They reflect current social concerns – about the dangers of buying drugs online or big bad business or global warming. Make up an outrageous story with weird events and a sprinkling of true facts.

Week 11. Maps: A-Z, Route map, contours, climate, constellations, tourist sightseeing map, map keys. Draw a map of your life, however you like: geographical, chronological. It could be a map of the area you live in, or the route you take to work, or the main places you’ve lived in throughout your life. All the places you’ve visited in the world. The groundplan of your home. Or it could be a place, a moment in time, an experience: love, work, children etc. Use it to write a poem or a short story or begin a memoir.

Week 10. Choose a favourite object, give it a voice, its own unique view of the world, its history, family, thoughts and desires.

Week 9. Go outside, somewhere alone. Close eyes and listen – note all sounds, far and near and internal. Write in response. (Listen to my soundscapes for inspiration!)

Week 8. Describe your hand in detail – front, back, colour, texture, shape, skin scars, jewellery, compare in size to something, what it’s done, would never do, compare to a landscape

Week 7. What will cause the most pain?

Week 6. Something very small that had a profound effect

Week 5. Write a sentence: include a person, an object, an event – describe using all the senses. Who missed the event?

Week 4. Look out of the same window at three different times in a day – describe the changes

Week 3. A colour you hate – List everything in that colour. Write a poem or scene using that colour to create a mood. Can you redeem that colour?

Week 2. Write A Recipe for Disaster