Here are some writing suggestions* we use in the Stretch & Tone workshops – usually we write for 15 or 20 minutes per suggestion. Try this as well as the time pressure can be helpful.

• Use the Amsterdam Writers Story Jump-starter to start a story of your own.

• Create a column of nouns. To the right of this create a column of adjectives. Make unlikely pairings by connecting lines between the two. Create a piece of work from some or all of these pairings.

• Make a list of some of the top things people fear in life. Use one of these fears as the starting place for a piece of writing.

• Begin a piece of writing with the line of dialogue: “You think it’s nothing, but it’s not nothing.”

• Picture a ransom note. What is the ransom demand? And are you the ransom writer? Or the one who has discovered the note?

• Use one of the following images / situations to commence a piece of writing:
- lights pulsating and bodies sweating on a crowded dance floor
- a cracked and dirty sink, its plughole jammed with hairs
- fresh snow on the steps of a wooden staircase
- dawn mist rising from the surface of a lake

• Write a journal entry for either an explorer, or a thief.

• Write about a bad habit. What does your character think about this habit? Does he/she care what other people think about this habit?

• Start with a mirror, and then get specific – is it making a clear or slightly obscured reflection? And what is being reflected? If it is a person, or people, what are they doing?

• Try getting into as many senses as you can. Have characters feel textures, smell things, taste flavours, see images, or in this case hear sounds…Use any one of the following five sounds to commence a piece of writing:
- cautious footsteps
- breathing apparatus sounds
- a tinkling bell
- sounds from a fight
- silence

* Some of these suggestions have been adapted from those in Pat Schneider’s wonderful book, Writing Alone and with Others.

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