Among writers, it is a pretty well known fact that one of the best ways to beat writer’s block is by doing a writing prompt. You know, a little exercise that gets you writing about something. Anything. So tell me this: how is it that, while writing this post, I spend about an hour deciding how best to write the beginning?
Well, enough of that, and on to a simple exercise I learned during my first year at uni. If you’re trying to get your writing brain in gear, or even just bored, set yourself a time limit and begin with:
Having a boy at secondary school call me a “ch*nky”, most likely to impress his mates. I don’t know if he was hoping to get lucky, but strangely, I don’t find casual racism to be much of a turn on.
Not understanding why Mum was being so violently sick in the months before my sister was born.
My grandparents’ cats coming back from the vet and me not knowing why the female was shaved on one side and the male under his tail.
Visiting the Nottingham Christmas Market with my secondary school as a reward for good behaviour, and one of the boys getting caught shoplifting.
Calling potato wedges “wedgies”.
My thirteenth birthday party, in which I must have eaten a ton of chocolate, party food, pancakes and birthday cake. Not surprisingly, the party ended with me feeling a little peaky.
Going to my Friday night Year 10+ youth club, and the evening coming to an unceremonious halt when a boy’s arm went straight through a window. His arm was shredded and spurting blood, and he was definitely crying.
Overhearing him at school some time later bragging to other kids about how it was just a scratch and how he’d laughed throughout the whole thing.
Recovering from the trauma of my (then five year old) sister being rushed to hospital with a broken arm when I realised I could watch any video I wanted without negotiation.
Saying goodbye to Mum after hers and my stepdad’s wedding reception, and trying not to show how much I was going to miss her.
Mum and I moving from Taiwan to England when I was just four, and not understanding how final this was after so many holidays with my (English) grandparents.
That “first day of school” feeling on my first day at university.
Learning about the Black Death at school and being afraid to sleep with my lamp off that night.
The first time I had pizza when I was little, and thinking it was the best thing I’d ever tasted.
So there you go. Besides getting you writing, this is also a pretty entertaining group activity. Just get your heads down, write down as many random memories as possible, and exchange. How weird does it get? Why not have a go and get back to me?