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Something a little different today – a book review.
Recently while I was out shopping with my sister I picked up a book called “642 Things To Write About” and it is one of the best things I have bought in a long time. The book is literally filled with 642 prompts for creative writing – there are lined gaps so you could write straight into the book (although I have been doing mine in a notebook). The prompts aren’t numbered and nor are the pages – there’s no instructions for the right or wrong way to use the book – you just go with what inspires you. I have been doing either a couple of the shorter prompts or one long prompt each day and it’s been great – no pressure, just getting creative.
There is a really great intro to this book which is motivational and amusing – in many ways it was what really convinced me to pick up the book. This was a tool created by writers for other writers for fun, for inspiration, to see if it could be done. If you pick up this book it is worth not just flipping past it to the prompts and taking the two minutes to read the story behind 642 things.
This book retails for around £11.99 but I think it is cheaper on Amazon at the moment, so worth shopping around for the best deal. Scraps are so important for writers – whether it’s academic writing or creative writing – often a blank page is the hardest thing to face so having a scrap of something just takes that pressure off. I have been considering doing the National Novel Writing in a Month thing which is basically a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in November. I am not sure I can actually justify the time with uni deadline and things – plus I am not sure about the idea of quantity over quality. I did read somewhere there are two types of writers: the writers that have finished something and those who wish they had; I can see the benefit of just powering through and editing later – I am just not sure if it is for me. Maybe one day I will write a novel, maybe one day I won’t, we’ll see. I think I will be giving NaNoWirMo a skip, for this year at least BUT I am going to try my best to do a little bit of creative writing every day using my purchase. Are you thinking of doing NaNoWirMo? Have you done it?
I have flipped through the book and there are lots of really great prompts that I think will make me approach each piece of writing from different directions – technical challenges, personal writing, abstract prompts, oddly specific prompts… I think this diverse range and the feeling you could dip in and out or just follow the book through is really great, especially for rusty creatives with limited time and the lingering threat of blank page syndrome or writers block.
There is a follow up book with even more prompts and also a young writers version – I think these books would make great xmas presents if you’re looking for something a little bit different! Have you got any of these books? What do you think? Have you found any other books about writing that you’ve found provocative or inspiring?
Now, feel free to stop reading but I thought I would share with you a little something from the writing I have been doing – I didn’t write these with the intention of other people reading them but here they are anyway. I tried to keep their length reflective of the boxes in the book although the last one grew as I followed some inspiration I had (be kind, this was just done for fun):
DO NOT DIE. DO NOT PROVE THEM RIGHT. I am responsible, I am nurturing and I can SO keep a house plant alive. You will NOT be the corpsey proof that I am a failed person. Be on my team. Don’t be an a**hole. Thanks.
The baked beans were burnt black onto the bottom of the pan and the toast was all but carbon as the coffee pot boiled dry. Smoke from the remains of lunch filtered into the lounge. She stared out the window into bright sunlight – the phone was ringing unheard beyond the din of TV static.
It was cold, it was dark and it felt like we’d been waiting for eternity. The stars were beautiful though – it is so easy to forget until you really look at them. I still remember my teacher explaining that the light we saw flickering out from the stars had been travelling for longer than we’d been alive, that when we are looking at the stars, we’re looking at the past.
I got one of those emails not too long ago – the ones that explain how we’re all special because we’re made of star dust – funny how we like to make ourselves feel connected to it all, important in this big old universe. It doesn’t actually take grand ideas to feel the connection though as I was reminded –
“Daddy! Daddy!” A small hand grasped tightly at my fleece sleeve and yanked; the tiny being attached to it – my six-year-old daughter –vibrated in excitement as she pointed to the heavens.
Halley’s Comet streaked across the expanse of indigo sky with its fiery tail of dust and ice. It won’t be seen again until 2061, but I saw it tonight with her.
I peered down into the telescope and adjusted the lens – all the better for her to see it with. As I lifted Grace so she could look, she felt like a giant marshmallow in my arms – wrapped in so many layers to keep her warm and safe – she’s so light despite this excess of clothing. She’d grown so much over the last few months, but then again, here she was so little.
The screen door of the house slid open and the spotlight of a torch darted across our lawn. Rufus, my dog, loped at my wife’s side, his collar jingling.
“Momma! Momma! Look!” Grace demanded. Her eyes locked down the telescope, but her mittened hand orchestrated our attention towards the heavens. Rufus jumped and tried to lick Grace’s face. I carefully place her back down on earth.
“I see it! I brought you hot chocolate,” my wife explained as she passed me the flask, “it’s time for bed Grace…”
“Just a little longer, please?” Kimberly scooped up her child and turned her face towards that bolt in the blue. She just smiled. I watched my family watching the universe. I took a sip from the steaming flask.
“Jesus!” I cursed the drink and Grace squealed with laughter. Rufus barked. Grace wiggled free from her mother’s arms and the pair darted off through the grass ack towards the house.
“Coming inside?” Kimberly said as she flashed the torch across the yard to light the way for Grace.
“I’ll be in, in a bit.” I kissed her head and sat down – the ground was damp and icey. I wondered briefly how I was going to get back up as I rubbed the soil from my hands onto my jacket – that was a problem with getting older.
“You’re worse than Grace. It’s past your bedtime too, spaceman. You have until I’ve done the dishes.” Kimberly turned to leave.
“Sit with me?” I asked, lying back to watch the sky. She pulled over one of the lawn chairs and sat beside me; she always did have more brains than me. For a moment or two all we did was watch the sky. I rested my head against the aluminium frame of the chair. I turned to look at her, eclipsed in the nighttime gloom. I rubbed her cheek with the back of my hand.
“You’re freezing!” My hands darted to her warm neck and she yelped.
“In space, no one can hear you scream!” I said and we erupted in laughter and kisses.
“SSHHHHHHH, YOU’LL WAKE THE NEIGHBOURS!” Grace bellowed from the door. Kimberly and I exchanged looks. With a groan, I got to my feat and collected the telescope.
“C’mon Momma, before you wake the neighbours.” I offered her my hand and we walked back to our home, tucked our daughter into bed, fed the dog, and went to sleep.
Halley’s Comet travelled on.
Hope you’re all having a great week!! I would love to hear about any recent purchases you’ve really enjoyed so please do drop me a message below! Also if you enjoy posts like this that have nothing to do with my hands, feel free to say. If you haven’t enjoyed this post… sorry