Open/Close – Writers’ Well


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Super simple prompt this week. Go on – try it. Get some paper and a pen…

Now, ten times, just write the word open and follow it with whatever word or words want to come…ten times, until you have ten lines, each beginning with the word open.

Next, ten times, write the word close and follow it with whatever word or words want to come…ten times, until you have ten lines, each beginning with the word close.

You have now created some inspiration from which to draw in order to write a poem in ten minutes.

When we did this in last week’s workshop, we each read aloud what we’d written so that all out ideas could cross-pollinate. Our lists contained everything from the mundane to the funny to the profound to the mystical.


open the window and let some air in

open as the blossom opens to the bees

open sesame

close your eyes and guess

close of day, such beautiful light

close up, we’re done for today

…and so on –



This is the poem I wrote:


There’s something unhinged

about 24/7

McDonald’s serving big macs at

three in the morning 

is that necessary?

No wonder we’re manically sleep deprived

constantly at the mercy

of that lit up rectangle in

our pocket on

the dash by

the bedside lamp


the sound of a fish opening

and closing its mouth

under water –

pop, bubble

nothing to swallow

much less digest

if we don’t take a rest

from the open all hours 

free for all


the door

is shut

the windows

are open

to ripple the closed curtains

with spring air

as eyes close

the outer door

gently but firmly

until the inside opens

and seeds gathered

are sorted and sifted

the best kept and planted

others discarded

and behind closed 

eyes they grow

to a glow

until its time

to open anticipating eyes

to let them shine

the inside




If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:





Patience – Writers’ Well


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Image credit:

I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain.

It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

  • A passage from Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis


This week’s prompt is inspired by the above, a beautiful passage and a powerful reminder of the importance of being patient; and the potential consequences when we are not. I actually didn’t have the quote to hand last Friday, so I paraphrased, and then gave each writer two small pieces of paper. On each I asked them to write an example of a generic situation in life when patience is important. Those pieces of paper were folded and then placed in the centre of our circle. Each person then picked one, and used what they found written there as inspiration for a story, to be written in 10 minutes.

I highlighted two possible directions they could take it in – either demonstrating how patience pays off in that situation, or the consequences of impatience.

In all honesty my response was by no means the best example, but that’s what I have so I’ll share it. Personally, I found all the stories incredibly moving, with some tender and knowing laughter too. Patience has such profound power, and I am certainly guilty of regularly lacking it. I’m learning – but slowly. Guess I’d better be patient with myself 🙂

So, this is what I wrote:

She leaned against the gate and watched. The sun was up, but not yet high, and the dew had not yet lifted itself from the grass that glistened, silver and expectant.

“Give up!” her brother had said.

“Stop wasting your time” her mother insisted. “Lord knows there’s precious little to waste young lady, and I…”

Sam hadn’t heard the rest. She’d managed to look as if she’d been listening, but her mind had drifted elsewhere; to this gate, this field.

She watched as the filly tossed her head, still not coming within twenty feet of her, let alone deigning to be touched. It occurred to her, as she lifted her own head to watch something fly over high above, shielding her eyes to try and identify it, that her father was the only one who’d not weighed in with an opinion on this. How had she not noticed before? He’d neither encouraged nor discouraged, just kept out of it. Watching. Waiting.

She smiled. He was waiting and watching her. She was waiting and watching –

“Here girl,” she tried again, calling gently and holding out her hand, knowing nothing would happen, just enjoying their little game. She calmly took in everything about the filly; her not yet full tail, the way her chestnut colouring darkened on its way down her legs, the angle of her head, the shape of her ears. 

“Nothing to see here.” The phrase came from nowhere. “It’s rude to stare.” Her mother’s voice continued in her mind. “I didn’t bring you up to stare young lady.”

Sam turned away until her shoulder faced the filly, and breathed gently, deeply. She was looking towards the river but didn’t see it. Every ounce of her was listening out, feeling through the ground – was the filly moving? Coming closer? She hardly dared look.

She saw her dad walking towards her and heard the filly snort and canter away in the opposite direction. She rushed towards her father to tell him what she thought she might’ve discovered.


What situations recently have called upon all your reserves of patience?


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

When you’re real… – Writers’ Well


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velveteen rabbit

The prompt I’d like to share this week began with me reading a very beautiful passage from a book called The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. Here is the quote, which you may well have come across, as it’s become very popular…
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 


We then each took a blank sheet of paper, writing at the top “When you’re real…” and completing it with our own thought below; passing the paper on to the right, and receiving another to the left, adding another thought until our own paper came back.

IMG_3266 (2)

Taking this creative gathering as inspiration, we then each wrote a poem in ten minutes. This is what I wrote, inspired by someone who’d written, “When you’re real…you know how a flower feels“. Enjoy 🙂


I’m not a flower

“I’m not a flower”
was a line from Bambi
and it always made me giggle
because the character
wanted to be really
at least
that’s what I heard

bees that roll around
in a huge pink poppy
dressing in pollen
make me giggle
daisies still curled up
sleeping through daybreak
because the sun’s not yet reached them
make me giggle too

kindness makes me roll
inwardly like that bee
dressing myself in joy

hiding under the duvet
on a day off I dare the curtains
to let in the sun before I’m ready
to wake

Do flowers know
they could be picked at any time
Could anything be so fearless

as to let its beauty radiate
so brightly the world
is desperate to claim it for a vase
yet still it holds nothing back
of its colour or scent

I think I need to study
with the dandelions
and the child I saw at the end
of his father’s arm
leaning down
to blow the clock off it

I’m not a flower –


thats not a flower

Here is the moment, in image, from the Disney movie. Turns out Thumper actually said ‘That’s not a flower!’ and the skunk didn’t actually say ‘I’m not a flower,’ but was still quite happy to be called one!


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

Story within a story – Writers’ Well


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red squirrel too

image from Wikipedia


So this is from last week’s session, where the prompt was to write a story within a story. We began by considering first when we tell stories (before bed, over dinner, at weddings, around the fire etc) and then why we tell them. Each person had two small pieces of paper, and wrote one response to each question, placing it in the centre of the circle so we could all see. Taking that as the inspirational spark, we wrote for ten minutes. This is what I wrote…


The children gathered around the fire. Some were throwing on sticks and twigs they’d foraged from the forest floor. Their eyes danced with the flames, and the night began to wrap round them like a cloak, to protect and enfold.

“So…” announced their leader, “who’s got a ghost story?”

There was a communal cheer, but the groan underneath it was more easily heard, because it went against the whole.

“What is it Jake?”

Now all eyes were on the groaner, some pointing and laughing, others groaning in turn. He always interrupted the fun.

“Ghost stories are boring.”

Various retorts to the contrary followed, as well as taunts of scaredy cat, sissy and the like. The leader sighed and waved his hands up and down to settle the noise that seemed too big for just ten boys.

“What kind of stories do you like Jake?”

There were suggestions called out through laughter, and again the leader raised his hands to invite calm. Jake shrugged his shoulders. Silence settled. The flames cackled.

“True stories,” he eventually offered.

“Go on,” the leader encouraged, curious now.

A couple of yawns appeared around the circle that was settling into a warm glow, much like the fire, whose flames had settled into radiant embers.

“There used to be reds in this wood. I saw one, when I was younger. More birds too, when I was five, I saw loads.”

The circle breathed in, breathed out, relaxed.

“My brother, he’s older, he’s got a gun. He’s started shooting grays. Gray squirrels. Shot five one day. They’re taking over, coz they don’t belong here, and there’s nothing to stop them. I climbed a tree once and stayed coz my parents were arguing. I saw the gray squirrels playing. I think they’re fun. I don’t want my brother to shoot them, but – . I want to see reds too. But -” He paused.

“I don’t know what’s right, but the woods are changing – I’ve seen them – it’s like a shrinking, or, like, if you listen – there’s less. It makes me sad.”

A couple of heads nodded. Silence. An owl. But what kind?


What’s your story within a story?


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:




Curiouser and curiouser – Writers’ Well


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Where does curiosity come from?

This was one of the questions I posed to the writing group last week, giving them 3 minutes to then write and explore that topic, with no sharing afterwards. This was a simple exploration. I then asked them to answer three questions, which they would use as the basis of a story to be written in ten minutes, which would then be shared:


Who is curious? (choose/form/create your character)

What are they curious about?

Where does that curiosity then lead them…?


The results were wonderful, but something even more wonderful came just a little later. One of the women who participated emailed me later that same day with a new piece, written in a cafe after the session. It seems the inspiration continued to flow. In fact, she had been dissatisfied with her earlier piece, and was thrilled to find her words and imagination and creativity flowing more freely when she wrote again.

I was so touched, and so thrilled. There’s nothing more exciting and…well, that gets to the point…than offering someone tools to play with, and then witnessing them making use of those tools in their own way in their own time, and feeling the joy and freedom of that. She very kindly gave me permission to share the context briefly, along with what she wrote – so here goes. Enjoy!


This really was an Alice in Wonderland moment . She looked at the palm of her hand, what on earth was happening. She had sat down on a big rock at the edge of the river. The sun was shining down on her and the heat made her body relax. She felt the rock beneath her, firm, and now very hot from the sun and she felt so comfortable – as if she was almost sinking into the rock. She could hear the birds singing and the gentle noise of the flies and other insects as they buzzed and fluttered on with their daily business. There was hardly any wind and the sun was now so bright she wished she had brought her sunglasses. She was watching a ladybird climbing up a blade of grass and then turned more on her back to look directly up at the sky. The sky was that wonderful blue that we all dream of on a cold and rainy winter’s day. No clouds – she felt like she could almost touch the sky. She raised her hand up and then it happened – very very curious.

Her hand started to grow – first the fingers and then the thumb – they started off like short branches but were soon very long and tall as the tallest tree. Her palm had widened as well. She was fascinated at the speed at which this had happened -was it really happening or was she dreaming?  It was strange that this huge hand didn’t feel any different to her normal hand. It didn’t feel any heavier. She really wanted to take a closer look at this hand – but she couldn’t figure out how she was going to do this as it was so far from her now. How was she going to bend her arm so that she could look at her hand and see if it was real or if it was just her imagination. She raised herself up to a sitting position – her arm and hand still flying high in the sky. Ah she thought – if I turn my hand down it will be reflected in the river and then I’ll be able to see. So she tried. It took her a few attempts at this maneuver and she nearly knocked over a nearby tree in the process – but finally she managed it. There it was – her hands reflection in the water – the shadow filling up all the river that she could see.

She stood up to get a better look to try and see the whole of the reflection. There it was – the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the ocean, the river, the mountains, the desert, the jungle, all of life was reflected in the palm of her hand, a multitude of faces of people and animals coming and going. Wow she said out loud – curiouser and curiouser. She was then filled with an emotion she had not felt for a long time – contentment – complete and utter contentment. She felt at one with the world, with nature, the weather the people the animals. After all it was all in the palm of her hand! She turned on her side and fell asleep. She barely noticed the wind that was created by her hand shrinking down to its normal size. A couple of buzzards did however as they had to dive to avoid her ring and middle fingers.



What are you curious about? What could you do to feed that curiosity, find out more…?

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:


Confession – Writers’ Well


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Here’s another writing prompt to dip your pen into, taken from last week’s session. Quite simply we each had three small pieces of paper, and on each one we wrote a ‘confession’ – real or imagined – that we or an imagined character might make. The three pieces of paper were then folded up, and we each picked one. We then used that confession as the basis for writing a story in ten minutes. This is what I wrote:

The sounds of the sirens still rang in her ears as she looked down, safe from her bedroom window, at the black mess in the garden where the shed used to be. She watched her father shake hands with the firemen as her mother leaned on this shoulder in a picture of utter defeat.

It was only a shed, came the thought rushing angrily to the rescue of her guilty mind. Her father, stubbornly optimistic to a fault at times, had insisted it could have been far worse. He’d even praised her for raising the alarm in time, noticing the smoke beginning to rise from the old dry leaves, left from winter and dried to a crisp by a brisk spring and the beginning of summer.

“Claire! Lunch!” Dad called .  She didn’t feel hungry, and tears fell onto the window sill. 

Fast feet coming up the stairs, not as heavy as her Dad’s. No knock, just an univited entrance.

“You idiot! I’m telling Dad”

She was so shocked she didn’t have time to remove the look of guilt from her face.

“I’m not an idiot,” came her eventual retort. 

“Mum’s crying.”

“It’s just a shed.”

A look of disgust, and a slammed door as her brother left her room.

“Can I come in?”

Dad. She rushed at the door to open it, and into his arms before he’d even crossed the threshold.

“I’m sorry Dad, I didn’t mean…I just, I was playing with the magnifying glass – I didn’t – I forgot – …why’s Mum so upset?”

“You started it?”

“Not on purpose.”

Her father pulled back from the hug with a sternness she’d not encountered before. She could see him trying to contain something too big for her to understand, and it scared her.


“Claire,” he paused to take a breath. “That fire could’ve…”

She tried to hug him again, because she couldn’t bear the look on his face. For a moment, he didn’t respond. Then he hugged her tighter than she’d ever felt before, and lifted her in his arms to carry her down to lunch. 


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

Look up at the stars – Writers’ Well


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Once again I’d like to share with you one of the prompts used in last week’s session, though I find myself wishing I could share more. Not more prompts necessarily, but more of the magic that is generated in those 90 minutes, which race by at a rate of knots, and last week left me catching my breath at the courage and beauty and wisdom I’d witnessed in what was written and shared.

So, I’d like to share our warm up, a piece of writing completed in just three minutes. Last week, the topic was to simply respond in any way you wished to the following quote from the beloved and now sadly missed Stephen Hawking;

‘Remember to look up at the stars.’

This is what I wrote:

Sometimes it’s important to leave the curtains open, the window open, your eyes open, even if you should be sleeping, you should be conserving energy, you should be sensible and not walk in the garden with a coat over your nightie and look up because you might catch your death. But you might catch life, winking at you or even shooting you a dream and being so glad to find you there, awake, looking up, ready to catch.


What’s up there beyond the furthest star you can see? How old is the star still shining its light at you despite being long gone? Look up. Look up and get ready to catch. The sky won’t fall in.


Have a wonderful week all, and remember to lift your head, tilt it up to the sky, and dream…


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

No conditions attached…Writers’ Well


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I’ve been interested for a while in the idea of a Universal Basic Income, in summary this is a payment made by the Government, equally and unconditionally to everyone. There are several trials happening right now (see links below) and the concept has support from a wide political spectrum, for various reasons.

However this is not a political post, but a writing prompt post so….

The prompt I would like to share from last Friday’s session is the following. £1000 is deposited in a bank account, unconditionally. You could imagine it being your own bank account, or that of a fictional character(s). What happens next? Write the story. You have ten minutes.

There were a very wide variety of responses, and some very brave and bold writing. I am aware that money is a very tender subject, by which I mean many people have some strong emotions around it for a huge variety of reasons, but that is exactly why I believe it is something ripe for exploration in terms of writing. Below is the story I wrote as an example. I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to read both your responses to this story, and your own response to this prompt, should you choose to give it a try.


“Get up love,” she nudged her partner. “It’s 8. You’ll be late.”

It took a moment for his mind to catch up – it took longer by bus. The car had been sold. They couldn’t afford to run it now that Sarah hadn’t been getting any hours at work, since they found out she was pregnant. A month away. In spite of his fears, he couldn’t quite dispel the joy as he met her gaze with a good morning kiss, and swung his legs out of bed.


The sound of the front door clicking closed woke her. She must’ve drifted off again. She stroked her abdomen in wide, gentle circles; then lifted each palm to her lips and kissed. She heard her phone ping with a message. A balance alert, to tell her what was in the account. She’d need a coffee before she looked at that, but coffee was no longer allowed. She opened the message with held breath.


She heard his key in the lock, and rushed into the corridor to meet him. His tiredness was put aside the moment he saw, felt, the buzz coming from her. She hugged him tightly.

“Let me get my coat off!’ he joked, a little unsure now. “What’s brought this on?”

“Happiness isn’t metered yet, is it?” But her tone was playful, not sarcastic. She allowed him to hang his coat, then linked her arm through his. 

“Close your eyes.” She sat him on the sofa. “Open!” In front of him was an impressive array of baby stuff; bath, cot, clothes.

He stood angrily. “Where? I wanted… We can’t…”

“We can. It’s all second hand, only £150 the lot. And this,” she handed him a neat pile of banknotes, “is your half. It’s going to be ok,” she smiled, taking his face in her two hands, and kissing his forehead before hugging him tightly. “It’s going to be OK.”


I would also like to share with you a couple of books I’m currently reading which explore the subject of a Universal Basic Income, should you be interested in further context.


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

Sisters (and brothers!)


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From Wikipedia:poetry slam is a competition in which poets read or recite original work.  The performances at a poetry slam are judged by a panel of judges, or sometimes judged by audience response. The judges usually give each poem a score on a scale of 0–10 (zero being the worst and ten being the best). 

I recently said yes to participating in my first poetry slam (!) which takes place in a couple of days, and would like to share a poem I wrote a while back (for my sister’s birthday), which I memorised this morning. It’s the one I intend to use for the first round (!) Enjoy 🙂 And wish me luck!


Sisters are doing it

for each other right

building their might

behind not you or me

but us, together, we

can face the world

without a scowl or a smirk

just the willingness to work

at the compassion that says

I know your pain

I’ve been there

I know your joy

I’ve flown there

with wings so strong and free

I was sure I could take the whole world with me,

but they stayed behind, why, I cry

I don’t want this just for me

It’s nothing if not shared, so frankly

what’s the point if you’re not in the sky too

refusing to look down and

racing at the clouds

until they part like a floating white sea

you, me, free

laughing our way over the mountain peeks

until we reach the other side

and fall clinging to each other

through the pain of a landing

that doesn’t break us but sows

the seed of something new

in a soft soil that takes our tears

as invitations to try again

bigger, brighter, lighter, taller

reaching up with the grace of

tender topmost branches

that dance and sway

and leave the flying to the birds

preferring to stay rooted in the earth

because this time it’s not just about the highs

but earth and sky

and everything in between

I mean, love is the trunk

that thickens in circles, expands

with the breath of the years that roughen

the bark and keep the insides wildly tenderly

alive, so thank you sister

for rooting me in the earth

whose darkness I was afraid of

for I never know what I’m made of

until you need me, see me

feed me your belief in the me I can’t

yet see myself but catch a glimpse of

in the light of your love but it’s not enough

to thank you I want to grow you too,

shine so you can see

the best in you.



A Key – Writers’ Well


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I’d like to share a super simple prompt from last week’s session, which could be taken in many directions. I’ll also share what I wrote in response, though it feels quite incomplete, and is a piece I may choose to take further.

In my experience this is one of the beauties, one of the fruits, of short bursts of spontaneous writing; they leave you wanting more, wanting to put more pen to paper, more keys to screen, more ideas zooming around inside you. It can be hard to decide which one to catch. A tree knows not all its pine cones will take toot and grow into strong tall evergreens. Life proliferates and then waits to see where the desire and the strength is. So never feel you have to bring each idea to full fruition, that’s not the point. Create, proliferate, and then take the time to see which idea has the juice to grow.

So, the prompt – super simple! Close your eyes (well, you’ll have to keep them open for a second while you read on a bit…) and picture a key, in detail. What does it look and feel like? (Pause) Who’s holding it? (Pause) What does it open? (Pause)

Now, write a story – you have 10 minutes.

This is what I wrote:

There are no lights on, but that’s expected. He still sighs though. Hands go into a pocket full of a collection of bits that is anything but treasure. Still, his hands aren’t squeamish, and they find the hard coolness of the key among the bits of wrapper, stones, crushed shells and undefinable fluff.

He slots the key into the door, and throws his bag at the radiator beneath which shoes are strewn in not-pairs. Coat off. Lights on. Phone pings. He reads. “Running late. Make yourself a sandwich. DO NOT just eat cereal. Back 7.30ish.”

In the kitchen he takes out a bowl and fills it with nutty crunchyness; uses the last of the milk even though he knows his mum will want a cup of tea when she gets back home and will be angry.

He goes to his room. Music on. Shoes off. Phone in palm. Text conversations; plans, complaints. The phone is more ‘home’ that this empty bloody house.

Later. Another key. The same door opening goes unheard over the music. The steps that follow go unnoticed too,  until the knock at his door.

He hears it. Ignores it. It’s more insistent. He ignores it. It ignores his ignoring, and the door opens. She enters, and sits on the edge of his bed.


“I’ve had a shitty day.”

He sees the red eyes and something opens. No longer a wish to punish, but to soothe.

“Sorry I used all the milk.”

“What? Oh. I hadn’t noticed.”

No words. The music feels loud. He turns it off. Silence. Her tears make him reach out, and she hugs him so tightly he can hardly breathe, but he knows it will pass. It always does.

“Thanks love.” She shivers. “Why didn’t you put the heating on?” He shrugs. She leaves. He hears her go downstairs, picks up his phone. Puts it down again. Follows her. 


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:



May I also take this opportunity to draw your attention to a fundraising campaign I have going at the moment, on behalf of a dear friend and her sons in Rwanda. Follow the link for further details. Thank you 🙂