22 Writing Prompts For When You Need Inspiration

Some days, you have no idea what to write. It happens to everyone. So what do you do in those moments?

Personally, I turn to writing prompts. I either Google them or tune into writing sprints on YouTube, which are often based on various prompts (NaNoWriMo is a good example of this).

So I’ve decided to come up with a few writing prompts of my own, and have written them all down here in case you’d like to try a few out for yourself.

If you have any prompts of your own, please share in the comments!

1. Describe the sounds – and sounds only – of your ideal writing environment.

2. Write down three different emotions you’ve felt this week, and what caused them.

3. Tell me what your most treasured object was when you were little.

4. What is your biggest issue with the world right now?

5. If you were writing in a different century, what challenges would you have faced?

6. Describe your favourite breakfast.

7. How many notebooks do you own? Describe your top three.

8. What’s one thing you like about yourself, and why?

9. Write about your last staycation.

10. Talk me through your daily morning/evening routine.

11. Think of your favourite scene, story, memory, anything, and write it from the POV of an object in the room.

12. The last message/email you sent or received, use it to create a whole new scene.

13. If you didn’t have the job that you do now, what would you be doing instead, and why?

14. You have one week left to live. What do you do?

15. What’s something you’re struggling with right now?

16. Did you have an imaginary friend when you were younger? If so, write about what they’re doing now they’ve grown up.

17. Take your favourite scene from any book. Now change one thing about it – the plot, a character, dialogue, anything, and see what happens.

18. Every time you sleep, you wake up as someone else. Write about your week.

19. Imagine you’re the villain in your story. What obstacles are you creating for the protagonist? Why? What has led you to this?

20. You’re part of the jury for a murder trial. The accused has been on the run for 20 years. How were they caught? Do you think they’re guilty?

21. Your protagonist has somehow travelled to a different era and is trying to order a drink from the nearest coffee shop/store. Write the conversation and the difficulties they encounter.

22. If you were a dessert, which would you be and why?

21 Books To Read During Quarantine

Now that the UK is in lockdown for the next three weeks, which means we’re going to spending a lot more time indoors. Which obviously means more time for reading, of course. But where do we start?

I’ve actually fallen into an ongoing reading slump, so this post should hopefully inspire me as much as you guys.

Here are 21 books to see us all through.

1. The Familiars – Stacey Halls

The Familiars book cover

“Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.”

What I love about The Familiars is how engaging it is. I just couldn’t wait to find out next and spent hour after hour reading. For anyone wanting to be captivated for a long period of time, this is the book to go for.

2. Diary Of A Bookseller – Shaun Bythell

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

This book had me crying with laughter when I first read it. It’s the perfect comforting read right now – trust me, it’ll put a smile on your face.

3. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

“These thrilling adventures tell the story of Lyra and Will—two ordinary children on a perilous journey through shimmering haunted otherworlds. They will meet witches and armored bears, fallen angels and soul-eating specters. And in the end, the fate of both the living—and the dead—will rely on them.”

Series are great right now as they keep you going through all this uncertainty, keeping you in their worlds for longer. His Dark Materials is an incredible trilogy filled with a multitude of settings and characters, filling your days with magic and companionship.

4. Librarian Of Auschwitz –  Antonio Iturbe

“Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.”

I get that the last thing we want to be reading right now is more doom and gloom, but hear me out on this one. This terrible yet beautiful novel captivates perfectly the magic of books and how they can lift people up, even in the darkest of times. It’s also one you can read in a day, which gives you enough time to quickly move on to something light-hearted afterward.

5. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.”

Listed for the same reasons as above, but with more humour and less morbidity.

6. Macbeth – William Shakespeare

“One night on the heath, the brave and respected general Macbeth encounters three witches who foretell that he will become king of Scotland. At first sceptical, he’s urged on by the ruthless, single-minded ambitions of Lady Macbeth, who suffers none of her husband’s doubt. But seeing the prophecy through to the bloody end leads them both spiralling into paranoia, tyranny, madness, and murder.”

For those struggling with isolation, reading is the perfect way to put your mind at ease for a while. And who better to remind us of that than Shakespeare himself, whose plays are filled with some of the most beautiful descriptions you’ll ever read? And hey, for those who have never sat down and read a full Shakespeare play, now’s certainly the time.

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Perhaps the most haunting and tormented love story ever written, Wuthering Heights is the tale of the troubled orphan Heathcliff and his doomed love for Catherine Earnshaw.

Published in 1847, the year before Emily Bronte’s death at the age of thirty, Wuthering Heights has proved to be one of the nineteenth century’s most popular yet disturbing masterpieces. The windswept moors are the unforgettable setting of this tale of the love between the foundling Heathcliff and his wealthy benefactor’s daughter, Catherine. Through Catherine’s betrayal of Heathcliff and his bitter vengeance, their mythic passion haunts the next generation even after their deaths. Incorporating elements of many genres—from gothic novels and ghost stories to poetic allegory—and transcending them all, Wuthering Heights is a mystifying and powerful tour de force.

The Bronte’s novels are filled with mysterious characters, ever-twisting plots, memorable settings, and captivating language. If you’re hoping to read a classic during quarantine, I highly recommend this one.

8. On Writing – Stephen King

“Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.”

This one is for the writers out there. I’ve been struggling to put any words down recently, probably a side effect of my reading slump, and whatever I do write just doesn’t seem to capture the scenes in my head. Stephen King’s book offers some fantastic advice for aspiring authors, including insights to his routine, past rejections, and writing tips. It’s a good way to get yourself back on track.

9. Harry Potter – J.K Rowling

It starts with Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid leaving a baby boy, with a tuft of jet-black hair and a curiously shaped wound on his brow, on the doorstep of number four, Privet Drive. They might have thought that his aunt and uncle would look after him kindly. But ten years later, Harry Potter sleeps in a cupboard under the stairs, and the Dursleys – Vernon, Petunia and their son Dudley – don’t exactly treat him like one of the family. Especially as it becomes clear quite how different from them he is.

As his eleventh birthday arrives, the time comes for Harry Potter to discover the truth about his magical beginnings – and embark on the enthralling, unmissable adventure that will lead him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, his true friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, powerful secrets and a destiny he cannot avoid …

Because reading Harry Potter will always be the best way to spend your time.

10. Lord Of The Rings – J.R.R Tolkien

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

My current isolation read. Tolkien’s trilogy is one hell of a read, and requires some serious dedication. But his rich writing style makes it easier to ignore the outside world by drawing you into Middle-earth. Plus, Sam is one of the best characters ever created.

11. The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

“When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.”

The Silent Companions is an atmospheric novel that will stay with you for weeks. It’s ideal for when you want to finish a book in one sitting, as Purcell’s alluring Gothic narrative keeps you turning the pages.

12. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

Lou is one of my favourite characters of all time – I love her quirkiness and bursts of energy. While the book is darker than the film, Moyes’ masterful writing perfectly captures the relief Lou feels when Will pulls her from of her past and thus carries us through the devastating events in the novel, with Lou coming out the other side as a better person.

13. Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.”

This book contains some of the most stylish aesthetics ever, and it’s so vivid it’s hard to put it down. Plus, the film is being pieced together and I. cannot. wait.

14. The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?”

None of the characters in this book are that likable, but Jessie Burton’s compelling plot is like no other and makes a nice, easy read.

15. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

“Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”

Big Magic is all about pursuing your creative passions, working on your ideas and being able to express yourself freely in your work. It’s a beautiful book and I highly recommend it, especially for right now.

16. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Join Alice in Wonderland, where nothing is quite as it seems.On an ordinary summer’s afternoon, Alice tumbles down a hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange world with even stranger characters, she meets a grinning cat and a rabbit with a pocket watch, joins a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and plays croquet with the Queen! Lost in this fantasy land, Alice finds herself growing more and more curious by the minute…

In the magical world of Wonderland and the back-to-front Looking-Glass kingdom, order is turned upside-down: a baby turns into a pig; time is abandoned at a tea-party; and a chaotic game of chess makes a 7-year-old a Queen.”

This is a light-hearted read that contains many snippets of wisdom throughout the whimsical puns, riddles and rhymes. A great way to escape our boring, adult world.

17. The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…”

This is a book like no other. While I personally found the first three chapters slow, it really picks up and I spent the majority of my time trying to work out who the killer was.

18. Game Of Thrones – George R.R Martin

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has set the benchmark for contemporary epic fantasy. Labelled by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world, Martin has conjured a world as complex and vibrant as that of J.R.R. Tolkien, populated by a huge cast of fascinating, complex characters, and boasting a history that stretches back twelve thousand years.

Three great storylines weave through the books, charting the civil war for control of the Seven Kingdoms; the defence of the towering Wall of ice in the uttermost north against the unearthly threat of the Others; and across the Narrow Sea the rise to power of Daenerys Targaryen and the last live dragons in the world.”

Because it’s an epic series that requires a lot of dedication, enough to distract you from the gloom around us right now.

19. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.”

Little Women is a pleasant read that goes well with a warm fire/blanket and mug of tea. Plus, for all the writers out there who feel like they’re hitting a wall, Jo’s passion for writing will help reignite your imagination.

20. The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte

In this sensational, hard-hitting and passionate tale of marital cruelty, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sees a mysterious tenant, Helen Graham, unmasked not as a ‘wicked woman’ as the local gossips would have it, but as the estranged wife of a brutal alcoholic bully, desperate to protect her son. Using her own experiences with her brother Branwell to depict the cruelty and debauchery from which Helen flees, Anne Bronte wrote her masterpiece to reflect the fragile position of women in society and her belief in universal redemption, but scandalized readers of the time.”

Because we all know about Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but what about Anne Bronte’s Tenant Of Wildfell Hall? Now is a fantastic time to explore more of the Bronte’s works.

21. The Great Gatsby

“The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920’s.”

Cos what better way to celebrate the 2020’s than taking it back to the Roaring 20’s?

Three Key Scenes Left Out Of Little Women

I recently saw the most recent film adaptation of Little Women, and I loved it. Greta Gerwig created a pleasant movie that perfectly captured the mental battles that come up with growing up. The casting was fantastic – Saoirse Ronan really brought Jo to life. I found myself crying my eyes out when Amy burnt Jo’s novel, and the same thing happened as the beautiful final scene panned out on the screen, the image of the sisters holding on to each other as they walked through their families to their Marmee.

Saying that, there were a few moments that strayed from Alcott’s extraordinary novel, and some that were omitted altogether. Of these missing scenes, there are three which I consider as extremely significant towards the plot, and so I was surprised when I realised that they won’t be included at all in the movie.

Keep reading to find out what those scenes were, and why I think they should have been left in the latest adaptation of Little Women. 

Meg’s Relationship With John

OK, so this point covers multiple scenes, but that’s because many left out of Gerwig’s film. It made me feel like Meg was pushed right to the back throughout the story. My boyfriend (who hasn’t read the book) also proved my point when we came out of the cinema; he asked: “So, is the novel basically about just Jo and Amy then?”

I feel that Meg and John’s marriage was really pushed to the side in this adaptation, which was a shame as Meg learns so much from it. Aside from their money problems, Meg’s battle to conquer motherhood while becoming the perfect wife for her husband is put under no light whatsoever.

One example of this is when their son Demi refuses to go to bed, causing Meg to almost burst into tears as he refuses to go to sleep and leave her alone with John for the evening. John steps in, refusing her to ‘indulge’ him while Meg reproaches herself for leaving her son to wail upstairs alone:

“He’s my child, and I can’t have his spirit broken by harshness.”

“He’s my child, and I won’t have his temper spoiled by indulgence. Go down, my dear, and leave the boy to me.”

Meg must convince herself that their children are not her sole responsibility and that she must not forget her husband. They learn to compromise on how their children are raised, as well as many other matters concerning their family. Megs also discovers how much work can go into small things such as looking after their household and being a good wife, and so she begins to appreciate the simpler things in life – like a happy family. 

Alcott uses scenes like this to show that marriage can have as many battles as the Civil War, a refreshing perspective compared to the classic novels that I’ve read. And from these battles, Meg grows into the mature lady we see at the end of the story. 

Jo And Amy’s Calls

Jo and Amy’s relationship is notorious throughout literary history. The two sisters bicker constantly throughout Little Women, and for me, one of the most memorable arguments is when Amy convinces Jo to make calls with her.

Jo decides to mess with Amy here. Just before the first call they make, Amy tells Jo to act quiet and modest, and so Jo responds by staying utterly silent throughout their entire first visit. When she is asked a question, she simply says ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Amy scolds her for this, demanding that she acts in a friendlier manner.

So, for the second call, Jo turns on the charm and tells everyone in that social circle stories that reveal their families’ poverty, embarrassing Amy further. She tells Jo to stop messing about, and so Jo finally acts like herself, much to her sister’s dismay once again. She plays with the boys and dirties her skirts.

Finally, it’s on to Aunt March’s house, where Aunt Carrol is also visiting. Jo continues to act like her coarse self, which leads to some devastating results for her later on. She tells Aunt Carrol that she does not speak French as it is ‘a slippery, silly sort of language,’ while Amy states that she is fluent and is grateful to have learned it. This results in Carrol asking Amy to accompany her on a tour of Europe instead of Jo, who is devastated.

Amy finding her way to Paris is hugely significant for Little Women’s plot as it’s where her romance with Laurie begins to blossom, while allowing Amy to showcase to the readers how much she has grown.

The calls she and Jo made present the difference between the two sisters, placing Amy in a stronger light as she is more respectful during calls, which she is awarded for, contrasted by Jo’s curtness.

As Amy is often the most disliked out of all the March sisters, this moment redeems her, which is why I think it’s a shame that Gerwig didn’t include it in her adaptation.

Jo’s Relationship With Professor Bhaer

OK, so this is a repeat of the Meg-and-John point, but there’s no way I can write this blog without mentioning the portrayal of Bhaer in the latest movie adaptation.

One of the most famous debates in literary history is that Jo should have married Laurie instead of Professor Bhear, but I can’t entirely agree. I personally found Laurie too immature for Jo, as demonstrated by his clinginess towards Jo and the years he spent moping because she rejected his proposal.

Meanwhile, while Bhear certainly did not give the best first impression, he allowed Jo to grow into her writing, teaching her that she should write for herself, write the ‘truth,’ not the soppy stories that the publishers told her to write:

“There is a demand for whisky, but I think you and I do not care to sell it. If the respectable people knew what harm they did, they would not feel the living was honest. They haf no right to put poison in the sugarplum, and let the small ones eat it. No, they should think a little, and sweep mud in the street before they do this thing.”

Through this comparison, Bhaer reminds Jo that she is doing what she has always chastised Amy for – pursuing money despite her own beliefs and morals. He also does it in a way that involves a prohibited item, whiskey, which the March family does not touch for abstinent reasons. Bhaer’s bluntness earns him Jo’s most profound respect as he is not afraid to hurt her feelings if it means she learns something from it, helping her achieve in life. This type of affection is such a contrast to Laurie that it’s almost refreshing, and I was all for it. 

This blog makes it sound like I wasn’t too fond of Gerwig’s Little Women, but honestly, I loved it. I sobbed silently in the cinema at many moments, was captivated by every character and how they combatted the restrictions placed by society. I’m just slightly perplexed over why the three scenes above were left out. 

Then again, I think that every time a book is made into a film – it’s just never perfect, never as good as the author’s story itself. 

Header image from Empire

The Difference Between Being Creative And Being A Creative

If there’s one word I encounter over and over, it’s creativity. On Instagram, we’ve all spoken about what makes us creative or how we’re trying to be more so. We even say that Instagram itself is a platform for creatives, and we sprinkle the word throughout our CVs and LinkedIn profiles like #saltbae.

At the agency where I work, we’re currently hiring, and when we were going over the ad and what we’re looking for, we agreed that we wanted someone who can think out of the box – a creative.

But what does that mean? What is a creative?

I personally think that we all stereotype creative people in one way or another. For me, it’s usually someone sat in a coffee shop typing away on their Macbooks, or scribbling in their notebooks or drawing in haphazard sketchpads, all while sipping coffee. When I see that person, I feel a sense of longing – I want to be as creative as they are. Which is stupid because, as a writer, I’m creative.

But I still doubt myself. My job has creative elements to it, and I aspire to live a creative life, but there are days when I feel like I don’t do enough to fit into that category – the elitist club of creatives. They’re the ones who publish blog posts every week, write at least 1,000 words every day (or whatever the equivalent is for non-writers) and have thousands of followers across their social accounts because their content, according to the comments they receive, is ‘creative.’

We all know that creative because we aspire to be like them. We put them on a pedestal, asking them to share their secrets to success: “How do you motivate yourself?” “How do you come with ideas like that?” “How do you write a novel?”

But the problem with these questions is that, while it’s great to see everyone inspiring each other, it can segregate these people into, as I said earlier, the elitist creative club. As if they’re the only people who have ideas ever while the rest of us have none at all. Only the chosen few have creative minds while the rest of us trail behind, never coming up with anything innovative, like someone compiled terms, conditions, copyright, and God knows what else for the whole thing.

But everyone has ideas. Anyone can come up with an idea about anything – it’s not just limited to writers, musicians, artists, and any other kind of content creator, right?

Let’s take a step back and look at the definition of the term ‘creativity:’

“the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. “

Google

and according to my Collins dictionary:

“make, cause to exist…imaginative and inventive”

‘Make’ is the keyword here. We’re all capable of making something – it’s practically ingrained in our species. So why do we talk about creatives like they’re a superior breed?

It may relate to the developments in our world right now, and the need to prove ourselves in our working lives. An example of this is the growth of artificial intelligence, how the world is becoming more and more automated. Tech Crunch stated that:

“In a time of high unemployment, when traditional skills can be sourced or automated, creative skills remain highly sought after and highly valuable.”

The segregation is clear as day in this statement, as the word ‘valuable’ rings louder than any other in the sentence.

But then, if we’re all creative, how can some creatives be more valuable than others? Are their ideas better than most?

Not necessarily – we’re all capable of coming up with all sorts of ideas, good and bad. I think that some ideas are valued more than others, which is wrong. What makes an idea valuable anyway?

I believe that it’s not the idea itself that’s valuable – it’s the fact that it’s put into action. Does that mean the idea is good? Not always, but you’re not really going to know that until you’ve tried it out.

And maybe that’s where the elitist club comes from; they’re the ones who are confident enough to try out their ideas, and that’s why they’re admired so much. They see the value of their own ideas – they hype themselves up.

Words have a huge influence over us. If we tell ourselves that our ideas aren’t valuable, that they’re not good because we’re not creative enough, then we’re going to believe it and are then less likely to put any idea into action.

So, while there’s no routine, formula, or magic spell, it’s clear to see that there is a small difference between being creative and being a creative. It’s nothing more than confidence. Not necessarily the confidence in the work you’re producing, because we all have moments of self-doubt, but confident that your ideas are worth trying.

So next time I see someone in the coffee shop typing furiously on their Mac, I’m going to remind myself that I too am that person. I also have an idea to play around with, and I’m brave enough to do it.

And I hope you remind yourself of the same thing.

Review: The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle

SPOILERS AHEAD

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once.

Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

***

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy this book. I knew that Turton had drawn upon many familiar tropes of crime fiction – more so from the noir period in my opinion – and while I have enjoyed a few crime novels before, I was never really a fan of the traditional crime genre.

However, there was so much hype around The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and the name alone was intriguing. So, caught up in the pleasant atmosphere of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, I gave in and bought a copy.

The one word I’d use to describe this book? Complex. The plot is full of shocking twists and reveals, it’s all just very mind-boggling. You will find yourself bewildered so many times throughout the story. However, I can’t help but admire Turton’s intelligence and his ability to craft such an epic storyline, along with the many side plots.

I’ll admit that it did take me a while to get into this novel, I had to persevere through the first three hosts before everything became clear. And so, from that point, I was hooked.

One of my favourite things about this novel is the descriptions that are inserted throughout. While Turton focuses more on the action than setting the scene, there are a few lines in there that are beautifully written:

‘A draught greets me at the top of the staircase, twisting and curling in the air, sneaking through the cracked windows and beneath the doors to stir leaves littering the floor.’

The way he describes the wind as if it is as cautious as the characters themselves contributes to the foreboding atmosphere of the book, and it’s as tense as hell.

The way in which the protagonist switches between each host is undoubtedly one of the most memorable aspects of the plot, As he gradually adapts to each host’s abilities, he has to battle the darker side of the characters before they take over completely. For example, one of his hosts is a rapist, and he finds he has to resist the urge to attack. Trying not to lose himself adds another layer to the novel, and it is certainly one of my favourite subplots. Turton manages to overlap the hosts’ thoughts with the protagonist’s so well it’s almost as if you are also caught up in the battle, and you know a novel is good when you become that sucked in.

The variety of hosts is also notable. As well as a rapist, he lives as an intelligent but obese man, a drug dealer and a butler who is lying on his deathbed, to name a few.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a long book, but it is far from repetitive. The ending is dramatic and unexpected, I was thinking about it for days, even when I started my next book. The difficult start appears to be a popular criticism, but it is certainly made up for with the exciting plot and characters. A must-read.