Keep Writing,
A Response from Janine Amos

Sometimes writers come to a full stop which isn’t planned. They’ve got to know their characters, created their story world – and then, for some reason, can’t work out what to put down next. It can happen to anyone. Here are some tips for keeping going:


Keep a box filled with all kinds of things associated with your story that can be helpful for times like this. When you’re working on a new story, find a small box and put in objects, pictures, photographs, pieces of material – anything that reminds you of your characters or their world. If you reach a time when you can’t think what to write, open the box and there will be a store of things to get your imagination going again.


Try moving to a different place to write. This can make a huge difference. Sometimes I write at home at my desk, other times in the library or a café. If my story world setting is the countryside, I take a notebook there to write if I can – or to the docks – or the city farm. Wherever my characters go, I try to visit a similar place for a while. It’s amazing how all the scents, sights, sounds and colours you experience can help kick-start your writing on the page.


Sometimes we feel that we’ve exhausted our imaginations and can’t think of any way to get started on a new story. Here are some writing prompts especially for those times.
Take a fresh page in your notebook (a whole two-page spread works best) and answer these questions one by one. Try not to think too hard – just write the first thing that comes into your head and move on to the next question:

  • Imagine a place. What is it like?
  • What is the time of day? What is the weather like?
  • Imagine an object. What is it?
  • There is a colour. Which colour?
  • There’s a sound. What sound?
  • Someone else is there with you. Who? Describe them.
  • The person speaks. What do they say?
  • Someone wants something. What is it?
  • Someone takes courage. Who?
  • Something marvellous happens. What is it?
  • There is a secret. What is the secret?

By the time you’ve finished, you may have pulled enough from your imagination to get started on a whole new story.


It can be fun to stand in someone else’s shoes – in your imagination, at least. If you’re stuck for a new character, try starting with their feet. Imagine one pair of shoes: trainers; football boots; flip-flops; school shoes; shoes for dancing in. A quick Internet search may help, or a trip to a charity shop for ideas. Now think about the kind of person who’d wear those shoes. What top would they wear? And what would go with it – jeans or shorts or a skirt? Before you know it, a whole new character has formed in your mind. Where are they going, dressed like that? Give them a name. Give them something unusual to carry. How about a teenager in football kit, carrying a briefcase? What might their adventure be? Perhaps you’ve thought of a schoolgirl dressed for a party, carrying a monkey. Where is she taking it? Now carry on writing to find out.
Janine Amos