My son presented me with a piece of paper last week entitled ‘L/O: I can write a story’. L/O? ‘That means Learning Objective Mummy. Now then you write and I will tell you what to write down.’ He paused and looked sideways (thinking), then back at me. ‘Do you have any ideas?’ Then followed a story about a cat called Tom whose day starts badly because he jumps on his owners’ bed and scratches the duvet (we then had to stop for tea and haven’t written the rest yet).
The happy willingness of my son to write (or dictate) an off the cuff story got me thinking about how self conscious I often feel about writing. Sometimes just getting the words down in front of me is so difficult. Why do I feel like that? No one else needs to read it. It also made me think about how much I love stories and the fact that there are stories everywhere we look.
Over the past few months I’ve discovered something that has helped me to get past my self-consciousness – writing prompts. I’ve taken a word, phrase or picture, thought about it for a few minutes and then just let whatever comes into my head flow onto the paper; usually scribbling for about 15 or 20 minutes. I try not to cross anything out, but just fill the page and see where the story takes me. I’ve found it quite liberating and fun, as it doesn’t matter how bad it is, its just meant to get the writing muscles going. I know that this is probably very familiar stuff for a lot of people, but if you fancy trying it, here are a few ideas…
- Next time you are on a train or bus choose a person and write a story about where they are going and why.
- Turn on the radio and write a story about the first three words you hear (this is from a Creative Writing course that I did with the Open University. The first three words I heard were something about genes so I wrote a story about loving to wear my jeans as a child.)
- Write a story beginning with the words ‘Choose twelve people…’
- Think of an object you clearly remember in your house growing up and write a story about it.
If you have any interesting writing prompts which you have found helpful I would love to hear about them. Enjoy your stories.