By Jilly Henderson-Long
PROCRASTINATION – one of the writer’s worst enemies! We all know how it is, and there is no point pretending we don’t, because we’re fooling nobody but ourselves. We go out of our way to set aside some writing time, the chores are done, the kids are in bed, we’re back from vacation. We sit down with a notebook and pen or electronic device … and decide to make a drink. Steaming mug at our side, now we can start to write. But wait: the bins need emptying, the dishwasher needs loading, the dog needs walking, was that one of the children? Better run and check. When we do finally sit down to write, it’s bedtime and another writing opportunity is lost forever, never to be reclaimed.
All writers have been there, young, old, male, female, and I am the world’s worst! So what do I do to overcome the guilt? I search for a quick fix. I leaf through a writing magazine or look at the Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook (and that is usually all I do – look at it), or write a post for one of the blogs. At least then, I tell myself, I’m doing something. But, like fad diets, once the quick fix has been executed, we are right back where we started. Surely there has to be more?
Wandering around WH Smith’s recently, I was taken with the number of craft magazines that actually provide projects for crafters: 50 Cross Stitch Ideas, 25 Make-Your-Own Greetings Card Projects, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover… Oh, pardon me, that’s a song by Paul Simon, isn’t it? And I knew straight away what I needed was something that provides projects for procrastinating writers. In the absence of such a publication, I decided to invent one. So here it is.
I do need to stress this is not a ‘how to’ feature. There are enough of those out there already. Nor is it one of those patronising, ‘So you want to be a writer’ thingies. No – quite simply, what follows is ten off-the-cuff story ideas just waiting to be plucked out of the air and I’m giving them to you with no strings attached; after all, you can’t copyright an idea! And to benefit as broad a range of writers as possible, I’ve broken them down into two distinct categories: adults and children. Find the one you feel most comfortable with and adopt it. Make it your own. You can do it. Good Luck!
1– Story type: Romance, working title Summer Daze
How can a young divorcee with two children and a demanding job ever hope to find happiness in the arms of a new partner? Who is he? How do they meet? Why do they eventually split up and how can they live happily ever after?
2 – Story type: Power Struggle, working title Blue Blood
Old school friends become successful business people in their similar companies. But the closure of the leading company in their field leads to a battle between them, which affects both their professional and personal lives.
3 – Story type: Anything Goes, working title The Locum
Locum in what? Do they need to be accepted in a community? Or is there something sinister about him/her?
4 – Story type: Eerie, working title Windrush
A writer looking to research a local mystery meets obstacles at every turn. What are the locals trying to hide? Who are they trying to protect and why? As the writer digs deeper, he/she starts to experience terrifying visions.
5 – Story type: Psychological Thriller, working title Chain
People in a small, tight-knit community begin to receive abusive and threatening poison pen letters. The perpetrator obviously knows everyone well, so who is writing them and why and how can an end be put to their wicked scheme?
(NB: This idea is actually based on a newspaper story I read some years ago which has always intrigued me.)
1 – Age range 3-4 years, working title On The Other Side Of The Wall
What is on the other side of a youngster’s bedroom wall? How can they find out? How can they get there? Is it a doorway to a magical place? Or a secret entrance to Imaginationland?
2 – Age range 3-4 years, working title Trudy’s Big Day
What’s today and why is Trudy so excited? Is it her birthday? First day at school? Is she going to a party or on an outing? What made it a Big Day when you were this age? You decide.
3 – Age range 6-8 years, working title The Lost Boatboys
Who are the Boatboys and why are they lost? How did they get lost? Where are they lost? And who finds them?
4 – Age range 6-8 years, working title Aunt Gloria’s Bloomers
How will Aunt Gloria’s bloomers save the world? And what kind of cheeky adventures develop along the way? (NB: I’ve recently started reading some of David Walliams’ books. This kind of cheeky humour is incredibly popular with children this age, and he’s actually a brilliant writer!)
5 – Age range 9–11 years, working title Sweatbreak
An 11-year-old has a vivid dream that his/her small village in a deep valley will be flooded and sets out to warn everybody and possibly save lives. But who will believe them? And does the dream come true?
I trust these ideas have got your creative juices in full flow. Let me know how you get on. You never know, I might even try one or two myself!
You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo, or find us on Anchor FM.
If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for information, advice and support: https://pentoprint.org/about/advice-support/
What follows is ten off-the-cuff story ideas just waiting to be plucked out of the air and I'm giving them to you with no strings attached; after all, you can’t copyright an idea!