Weekly Writing Post #45

Theodor Geisel published over 60 books during his lifetime, 44 as Dr Seuss. He remains one of the most beloved children's authors in the world. In 1957, he wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which ten years later, on this day, was first aired as an animated television special. It has since gone on to become a perennial holiday tradition in some form or another (Ron Howard directed a full length feature of the story in 2000, starring Jim Carey as the Grinch).

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is about how, even when all of their material gifts end up in the Grinch's bag, the people of Whoville still celebrated Christmas because really, you can’t actually steal Christmas. Christmas is a good feeling and sense of community that lives inside all the Whos, gifts or no gifts. Which is why the Grinch's plan fails (spoilers! ;)).

So in the spirit of Dr Seuss and his Grinch, this week’s prompt is a reminder that the whole ‘buying’ and ‘receiving’ thing isn't the point. In fact, it's entirely beside the point. However you celebrate this season, be too busy celebrating to worry about the things a lot of people think this time of year is about, like expensive (or cheap) gifts. Enjoy time with your loved ones and be like the Whos, who came together despite their differences in age or opinion and have a wonderful Christmas, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka and Yule.

Roberto Nickson

Weekly Writing Prompt #41

This week, one of my favourite books, Little Women, celebrated its 150th anniversary. Before Little Women, books for young people were mostly preachy tales in which the good and virtuous were rewarded and the wicked punished. Girls, in particular, were little more than dull collections of moral qualities.

Then came the four March sisters — trying to be good but forever getting into trouble provoked by their particular character flaws: Jo’s hotheadedness, Meg’s vanity and Amy’s shallowness. Beth, as the stock ‘angel’ character, appears to have no flaws except perhaps her selflessness, but we all know what happens to Beth..

The book, especially in its creation of Jo — an independent, unconventional, irreverent and impatient young woman, devoted to her writing and proud of her ability to earn money from it — has been an inspiration and a favourite of many since it was first published. Though often criticised for her selfishness, Jo has always appealed to tomboys, rebels and freethinkers, her passion for creativity providing aspiring writers with a glimpse of how to operate in the world.

This week’s prompt comes from Jo in the hope it inspires you to write as well.

Annie Spratt

Weekly Writing Prompt #40

This week, in 1960, bookstores across Britain were inundated when the controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover went on sale for the first time. Penguin Books, had just emerged victorious from a sensational six-day trial where the company was accused of violating the Obscene Publications Act by publishing DH Lawrence’s story.

Britain was about to be overwhelmed by the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and this became one of the first signs of a new age of freedom and emancipation. The sexually explicit novel about an affair between an aristocrat’s wife and his gamekeeper was published in Italy in 1928 and in France the following year, but it had always been banned in the UK.

After the go-ahead from the court, Penguin couldn’t cope with demand and rationed its first 200,000 copies to booksellers across the country. All were sold on the first day. 300 copies sold from Foyles, the biggest bookshop in London, in the first 15 minutes and took orders for another 3,000. Within a year of the trial, Lady Chatterley’s Lover had sold two million copies.

In 1930, at the age of 44, Lawrence died of tuberculosis, defending his book to the last against those who accused him of pornography. He could hardly have imagined the sensation and vindication of the trial 30 years later. I wonder how he would feel about the books of today such as Fifty Shades of Grey.

This week’s prompt comes from the still controversial novel. Have you read it?

Brandi Redd

Weekly Writing Prompt #39

It’s Halloween! The season for little ghosts and goblins to take to the streets, asking for candy and scaring one another silly. Spooky stories are told around fires, scary movies appear in theatres and pumpkins are expertly (and not-so-expertly) carved into jack-o'-lanterns.

It all began as the festival of Samhain, which was part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain and other parts of Europe. At the end of summer, the Celts thought the barrier between our world and the world of ghosts and spirits got really thin. This meant weird creatures with strange powers could wander about on Earth. In an attempt to counteract this, the Celts had a big party, all about scaring away the ghosts and spirits.

Through the ages, various supernatural entities — including fairies and witches — came to be associated with Halloween. Dressing up as ghosts or witches became fashionable, though as the holiday became more widespread and more commercialised (and with the arrival of mass-manufactured costumes), the selection of disguises for kids and adults greatly expanded beyond monsters to include everything from superheroes to princesses to politicians.

Halloween is always great inspiration for strange and scary stories, which is why this week’s prompt is all about this spooky celebration. Have fun!

Ehud Neuhaus

Weekly Writing Prompt #38

Happy Hump Day! Which reminds me of a book. Have you ever read Tracks, by Robyn Davidson? Before the hype of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (which I also love), Australian Robyn Davidson, trekked the Outback from the Glen Helen Tourist Camp to Hamelin Pool, Western Australia, 2,700 kilometres, In 1977. She hiked through the hot sun with her four camels and her dog, Diggity, for nine months (after three years of preparation in Alice Springs). According to Davidson (reluctantly dubbed ‘The Camel Lady’), although the trip appeared to be a case of ‘inspired lunacy’, there was a method to her madness, as she sought to test and push herself to the limits of survival.

It became a seminal trek that would inspire other adventurers, spawn a movie adaptation and see her memoir never out of print.

The book is as much about Davidson’s pilgrimage as it is about the Australian landscape and I can’t recommend it enough. This week’s quote comes from the opening page.

Annie Spratt

Weekly Writing prompt #37

Today, would have been the birthday of playwright Arthur Miller. A major figure in the twentieth-century American theater, his most popular plays include All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, A View from the Bridge, and the first play I ever saw, The Crucible. The Crucible is a dramatised (and partially fictionalised) story of the Salem witch trials that took place in Massachusetts during 1692 and 1693. Miller also wrote the play as an allegory for McCarthyism, when the United States government persecuted people accused of being communists.

Though widely considered only somewhat successful at the time of its release, today The Crucible is Miller's most frequently produced work throughout the world and the source of this week’s prompt.

David Fanuel

Weekly Writing Prompt #36

I don’t know if you noticed (maybe not because I know your busy), but I completely dropped the ball last week and missed posting a writing prompt. Being busy isn’t a great excuse, in fact, most of us make every attempt to express to others how busy we are everyday. What do you say to the friend you haven’t seen in awhile who asks what you’ve been up to? ‘Good. Same old, busy!’ As a society we've come to glorify busy. We've all been tricked into believing that if we are busy we are important. But that's untrue. We’re human beings, not human doings, yet we always seem to have to be doing something.

That’s not to say that there’s something wrong with being busy. We need to have goals and be working towards achieving them, and striving to create a beautiful life for ourselves and those we love. It gives us a sense of purpose and direction and helps us feel good. But let’s find a way to do all these things and still have time to do the things that bring us joy, like nothing. Do nothing on your own, do nothing with your significant other, do nothing with your friends and family. When was the last time you stopped to just be? Went for picnic or a long walk in nature? With no agenda other than to just appreciate the experience of being in that moment? We invest our precious time on things that we shouldn't and it leaves us less hours in the day to invest wisely, on things that do matter.

So, if you feel like you don’t have time to write this week, that’s ok, but ask yourself why. Make sure you invest your time wisely and make room for things that bring you joy.

Luke Ellis-Craven

Weekly Writing Prompt #34

It’s Tolkien Week! The annual festival that honours the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and his son and editor, Christopher Tolkien. First celebrated in 1978 by the American Tolkien Society, Tolkien Week is the calendar week that contains September 22, Hobbit Day.

September 22nd is the Birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, two characters from Tolkien’s popular books, The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings, in which Hobbits, typically between two and four feet tall and nothing like your usual hero, accomplish great feats and amazing acts of courage.

Fans celebrate with anything from going barefoot all day and having seven meals (yes please!), to literary discussions and readings, Lord Of The Rings movie marathons and throwing parties in honour of the ‘Long Awaited Party’ at the start of The Fellowship Of The Ring with merriment, feasts, games, costumes and fireworks.

So to celebrate the humble Hobbit (and one of my favourite stories), this week’s prompt is the first line from The Hobbit.


Weekly Writing Prompt #33

Tomorrow is Roald Dahl Day! You may not be aware, but Roald Dahl was more than a fabulous story teller. He was also a spy, a fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor.

But it is his stories that he is best known for. In 1961, James and the Giant Peach was published followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl even wrote screenplays for the James Bond movies and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He has published many other classics, including Danny the Champion of the World, The Enormous Crocodile, Matilda and My Uncle Oswald.

Dahl was famous for his inventive, playful use of language, which was a key element to his writing. He would invent new words by scribbling them down before swapping letters around. He didn't always explain what his words meant, but he knew that children would work them out because they often sounded like a word they knew. For example, something lickswishy and delumptious is good to eat, whereas something uckyslush or rotsome is not definitely not! He also used sounds that children loved to say, like squishous and squizzle, or fizzlecrump and fizzwiggler.

Today, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre continues his extraordinary mission, such as celebrating Roald Dahl Day, to amaze, thrill and inspire generations of children and their parents.

I hope this week’s prompt inspires you to create your own amazing story.

Johnny McClung

Weekly Writing Prompt #26

This week would have seen the birthday of the author Aldous Huxley, born July 26, 1894. Best known for his 1932 dystopian novel, Brave New World, Huxley had a challenging early life. During his teenage years, his mother died of cancer, his brother committed suicide and he began having problems with his vision. In an interview with The Paris Review, Huxley explained that he was almost completely blind during his late teens: 'I started writing when I was 17, during a period when I was almost totally blind and could hardly do anything else. I typed out a novel by the touch system; I couldn’t even read it'. He eventually regained enough of his vision so he could read and study using a magnifying glass. In 1942, Huxley wrote The Art Of Seeing, a book in which he described how he regained his sight.

In the early 1920s, Huxley contributed articles to magazines, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, and House and Garden. He wrote on a broad range of topics, 'everything from decorative plaster to Persian rugs'. He recommended this sort of journalism as a great apprenticeship into writing claiming that 'it forces you to write on everything under the sun, it develops your facility, it teaches you to master your material quickly, and it makes you look at things'.

On November 22, 1963, Huxley died of cancer of the larynx, after been diagnosed three years prior. If this date seems familiar to you it's because he died on the same day that former US President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas. Huxley's death received very little notice due to the shooting, as did the death of British author C.S. Lewis who also died that day.

The moral of this week's prompt is that no matter the hardships you may encounter, be it in your writing journey or any other goal, if you're brave, work hard and take every opportunity that comes your way, you might just get there.

Tyler Nix

Weekly Writing Prompt #25

Walt Disney’s metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy and futurism, Disneyland, opened this week in 1955. The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 14 million visitors a year. That's a lot of dreams coming true.

We all know the classic Disney formula for stories. Simplified, you can break it down into the following parts:

Once upon a time there was ____. Every day ____. One day ____. Because of that, ____. 

Because of that, ____. Until finally ____. And they lived happily ever after.

Simple right? Through in some adventure, a meet-cute, some conflict and you have a best seller!

But for this week's prompt, I'm going to mix it up a little. You can still use the structure above and shuffle it, or take an existing Disney story and add to it or just start your own 'fairytale' where most others end. Because we all know that's never the whole story...

Thomas Kelley

Weekly Writing Prompt #23

Today is the Fourth of July! I know, I know. I don't live in America and I don't celebrate the Fourth but I do have family there and they do. I also know that celebrating anything America is a little hard given the current political climate, which is exactly why I think we should. Perhaps today we can celebrate the good that remains American such as the love, the landscape, the food and a great many of the people that are fighting to make America (I don't want to say great, because, well..) just 'America' again.

Today's prompt comes from one of these great American's, Robert Frost. He knew what was up.

Aaron Burson

Happy Fourth of July!

Weekly Writing Prompt #22

The days are apparently getting longer. Not that I can tell just yet but I always feel a little brighter knowing that the shortest day has been and gone. I'm not big on winter as you may know, and controversially, I love daylight savings. I love long days, sunshine, being able to be outside more. So yes, the prospect of longer days fills me with excitment.

It also gives you more time to write and be creative with this week's prompt!

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Weekly Writing Prompt #21

This week in history sees the first patent of the typewriter. It was hardly an original idea and there had been patents registered by others for machines like a typewriter. But credit for the first modern version goes to Christopher Sholes, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1868.

The problem with his first machine though was that the keyboard was arranged alphabetically, as anyone would expect then. But as operators learned to type at speed the metal arms holding each letter often became entangled. 

Sholes studied the problem with his partner Amos Densmore and worked out which letters were most often used. They then put them as far apart as possible on a new keyboard, reducing the chance of clashing arms as they would be coming from opposite directions. And thus the 'Qwerty' keyboard we all know, was born. 

Thanks to Sholes and Densmore, Remington began producing typewriters just a few months later. One of their early customers was Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, one of Twain’s most well known works, published in 1876, is widely believed to be the first novel ever written on a typewriter.

So this week's prompt comes from that very book. Enjoy.


Weekly Writing Prompt #20

I don't know about you, but I need almost every aspect of my life to have a soundtrack playing in the background. Sounds easy enough; however I spend so much time procrastinating over the 'right' soundtrack, I can lose hours down Spotify rabbit holes. I'm sure it's not healthy and it's certainly not productive, but when I finally find the right playlist to suit the time of day, the mood, the task at hand, I'm in my element.

While writing or editing my soundtrack needs to be upbeat to keep me energised but not distracted. This mix of French, Chill and Electronic has been on high rotation of late:

Though apps like are Spotify convenient to just select and sit back, I still love listening to my vinyl when I'm not working. And that is exactly where this week's prompt comes from.

Taylor Hernandez

What do you listen to to keep motivated and on task?