Open Age Creative Writing Blog


Writing Exercise

Light – A Writing Activity


The days are getting longer, very gradually. This exercise gets you thinking about light, and the many forms in which it appears.

  • Think about daylight first. Each morning, thank goodness without fail, the sunlight gradually greets us. Think about its qualities. Maybe there’s a particularly memorable dawn you once saw, and a story around it which you want to tell. Think about the sheer power of the light from the sun – it can even be dangerous – if we’re driving and momentarily blinded, or when it causes skin cancer, or if we use a magnifying glass to focus its rays. Maybe there’s a fictional story to create in which a character is momentarily blinded by the sun and risks his / her life, or someone else’s.
  • When the natural light lessens then artificial lights come on – street lamps, house lights, headlights. And twilight is an in-between time when perceptions change, a time symbolic of near-endings, dwindlings, and change generally. Maybe something particular happens for you or your character at this time.
  • And how about when it’s night…. There’s the cold light of the moon, reflecting the light from the sun. There’s the monthly full moon, with all its associations of wildness (literally lunacy) or romance. There are stars, each shining with a different quality of light – some twinkle rose-pink, some glimmer white – and often planes pass overhead slowly with tail and wing lights blinking. Shooting stars, or satellites, sometimes delight us. Maybe you once stayed out at night lying on the ground watching the stars and the night sky. Maybe you were an expert on the constellations as an avid science student. At night, the lit windows of trains hurry down the tracks, the windows of houses offer a small yellow square in the dark. Maybe you see something through one of these windows, maybe even something secret, something you shouldn’t have seen.
  • Maybe you have a favourite lamp, or there’s a lampshade you inherited, and it has a story to tell.
  • Maybe the light from your mobile phone stops you sleeping at night and you’re exhausted, and you want to sing about it.
  • Maybe you want to create an exciting story about something that happened in the dark – in a forest when someone’s torch stopped working, in an ancient imaginary cave when the fire went out, in a cellar at the bottom of a house.
  • Maybe you’ll choose to imagine what it’s like to go blind and lose light – or, conversely, to gain too much of it – to enter the long, sleepless Scandinavian summer waiting for a restful night-time that won’t arrive?

Real or fictional, write a story in which light is important.

[this exercise is derived from Jo Bell’s marvellous blog of writing exercises called “52”, one for every week of the year

Look out for a soon-to-be-launched book of writing activities by Jo Bell, based on her blog]

Writing Exercise – “Food”

Colorful Fruit Food Square Background

Food delights the senses – tempts the taste buds, conjures aromas, seduces us with colours and textures. Here’s an activity which really allows you to explore your senses through writing, by focusing on the theme of food from a number of possible angles.

(1) Write about a particular meal you once had that was memorable. Talk about the occasion, the setting, the conversation, as well as the food itself. Maybe it was memorable for good reasons, maybe for the wrong reasons.

(2) Write about a favourite food, and what it means to you, as well as describing the food itself. Maybe you can come up with an unusual simile to conjure up what eating this food is like.

(3) Write about a time you gave food away to someone who needed it more. Or perhaps more dangerously, write about a time when you failed to do so and walked away guilty.

(4) Maybe you once used to get food cravings for a particular type of food (I nearly typed pearticular there). Write about the experience.

(5) If starfuit make you think about that visit to Africa, write a story where you eat a starfruit and are taken back there in your mind.

(6) Write a commentary on politics about food banks, world famine, food wastage, recycling. Get angry if you want to.

(7) If there was a strange food or a particular recipe which you used to rely on when recovering from illness, write about that.

(8) Maybe you once tried a really unusual, exotic or strange food. Tell us about it.

Adapted from Jo Bell’s marvellous poetry blog “52” –

Exercise – I am / I am not

This week’s exercise uses pattern as a framework for your writing.

First, write a series of sentences beginning “I am…”. See if you can write at least 10 such sentences. Aim to make your language as inventive and startling as possible. You can put in as much detail as you want, and the sentences can be long or short. The statements can be fictional or strange if you wish: e.g. if you want to say “I am a smuggler of lemons” then go right ahead.

After you’ve written your “I am…” sentences, then write some “I am not…” statements. Again – long or short, fictional / strange or factual / realistic, it doesn’t matter.

Lastly, when you have completed both separate lists, then combine them into a finished piece of writing, alternating “I am…” / “I am not…” statements. You may want to put your statements into a new order, if re-arranging them seems more interesting. You may want to drop some of the statements that were in your original lists when it comes to producing the final combined list. And you may want to edit the details of the sentences when you see them alternating, to draw out connections or contrasts between them.

A big thank you to Kate Simpson for sharing her inspirational piece made during the “I am” / “I am not” Creative Writing activity:







The end


It was the end of the day I closed my curtains and began my crossword puzzle. In order to finish it I had to cheat a little and peruse my dictionary.



 I am a sociable person who loves a good party where the laughter rolls around the room.

 I am stardust on an inky black night

 I am someone who runs at the speed of lightening

 I am not Twiggy by any means but a corpulent cabbage of a man

 I am not horrendously happy at work

 I am not a super star but I am well known in neighbourhood not necessarily for the best of reasons.

 I am a sociable person who loves a good party where the laughter rolls round the room. Despite being a corpulent cabbage of a man and no twiggy I can dance the night away.

I am someone who runs at the speed of lightening and find racing gladdens my heart particularly as I am not horrendously happy at work which is in the local neighbourhood and not necessarily for the best of reasons!

I am not twiggy by any means but a corpulent cabbage of a man

I am not a super star but I am well known in the neighbourhood not necessarily for the best of reasons.

I am not horrendously happy in my choice of work.

– Kate Simpson



Exercise – Friends

A new exercise for this week is about time with friends. Describe one specific vivid experience shared with friends or a friend.

The friend you pick should ideally be someone other than a family member or a lover. You might focus on a friend you still see regularly, or one you haven’t seen for a long time. A friend you have lost, or one who lives right next door. They can be any age, and the story can be recent or old.

No need to spell out how the particular experience with that friend signified something grand or important. Just immerse yourself and the reader in the experience at that time, as it happened. The moment you describe can be unusual or it can be ordinary. Your language might be excitable or regretful or peaceful. Focus on describing the concrete details of the experience, and painting the scene with words so the reader can visualise it.

Exercise – Proverb Inspired Stories


Today in our Creative Writing Phone Group tutor Mike Loveday set us a very inspiring task to write a short story inspired by a proverb – some of the following helped to whet our creative appetites:

  • Never judge a book by its cover…
  • A leopard cannot change its spots…
  • Good fences make good neighbours…
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth…
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…
  • A cat may look at a king…
  • A drowing man will clutch at a straw…
  • A house divided against itself cannot stand…
  • A new broom sweeps clean…
  • A nod is as good as a wink…
  • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime…
  • He who laughs last laughs longest…
  • Necessity is the mother of invention…

Choose one of the proverbs to inspire your short story. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about the exact meaning of the proverb. It could have a more surreal interpretation, or be the starting point for your story. You can spend 5 or 10 minutes – or even longer! Enjoy! And please share with us so we can give you feedback!

Exercise – Questions

Setting a fixed framework to write within often liberates the imagination. This exercise is one based around questions….

The task is to write a list of questions. Use the following words as the first word of each sentence, in exactly the following order –


How / Can / What / Or / Is / When / Where / Who / Will / Have / Which / Why / Do / Would / Shall / Did


The theme for your list of questions is completely open. You can make your questions random, each one completely disconnected from the next. Or they can all be on the same theme, or following a particular subject, set in the one single context. It can be an absurd list, it can be gibberish and comical. Or it can be serious. Or make it strange and unsettling. The questions can be written from a familiar context, such something to do with your daily / weekly routine, or your own life. Or they can be written from  completely imagined perspective. Serious or comical, you are free to invent exactly as you please within this fixed framework.


We came across this wonderful advice and approach to creative writing about being playful from ‘Writing on the Pages of Life’ blog…

Writing on the Pages of Life


The brain can keep developing long after we leave adolescence and play promotes that growth. We are designed to be lifelong players, built to benefit from play at any age. The human animal is shaped by evolution to be the most flexible of all animals: as we play, we continue to change and adapt into old age.       -Stuart Brown, M.D. with Christopher Vaughan in “play, How it shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul”

We wake up earlier to do early morning writing. We journal. We write haiku, sonnets, haibun. We blog and participate in blog challenges. We work on our drafts. We work hard to improve our writing. The time comes when it’s time to stop taking writing so seriously…

Now it’s time to play!

Writing discovers your own life. Don’t box it. Don’t expect it or force it to be this or that. The…

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