Creative Prompt: When the Wheels Come Off

We’ve had a couple of days of sun and I’ve been trying to get out to some slightly further flung spots around the area that I live than usual when I walk. This is another picture from the edge of a railway line, where I saw this wheel poking out from under the fence.

I really liked the juxtaposition of the wheel, which may be from a pram or a trolly, and the empty whisky bottle. There is a story in the image, the wheels coming off a situation, and perhaps as a consequence some commiserations aided by hard liquor.

What do you think could have happened here? What was the consequence?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: Community Library

I saw these books lined up on the wall outside a house that I think is being cleared for rennovation. I was kind of in a rush and had to cross the road to get the photo but I’m glad I stopped for it. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the library that was built but never opened, that’s now been officially closed, and the murky buisness of the money behind it. This feels a bit like the opposite for me, someone has put all these books on a wall for anyone to take, no money involved.

When I walked past the next day, most of the books were gone. I like to think that they found new homes, and that even now someone may be finding inspiration in one of the stories contained in one of these books.

Sometimes an unexpected find or gift can inspire new thoughts, ideas or stories in us. If you saw a pile of books on a wall like this, would you take one? Where might that lead?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: Here comes the Sun

I saw this little guy in the road a few weeks ago. The sun was shining for what felt like the first time this year and it felt nice to be out and about. I chose this photo in particular because it represents a dichotomy for me, and also speaks to how creativity acts through our own biases and experiences.

I really like the cheerful face on the air freshner, but in general I avoid all air freshners (and most commersial perfumes) as they contain some kind of chemical that makes me feel really sick.

Some of the best stories I’ve read and films or TV shows I’ve seen have been about situations that appear to be calm and picturesque, while just below surface there are hints that all is not as it should be.

What situations or people can you think of that may appear to be one thing, while actually being another?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: The Doll

I frequently see ‘lost’ toys and children’s clothes or shoes when I am out and about. I’ve got quite a collection of photographs as there is often something a little forlorn about them, like they are waiting to be reunited with the small being they belong to. Some of those photos feel like they belong on the cover of a mystery novel. But I don’t frequently post them here as most of the time they provoke the same set of thoughts or feelings for me.

However, I took the photo of this particular little doll because it felt different to those other lost toys. The way it is dressed to resemble a someone ready for work or school caught my attention, like it could have been constructed to resemble a specific person. Last night as I was getting ready for bed I began thinking that it looked a little like the kind of artefact someone might produce in order to cast a spell. I’d like to think that the little smile on the face of this doll was placed there to convey a positive intention, perhapse it is a charm to bring luck or fortune in a new job or studies. Or perhapse not.

Who do you think the little doll was made to represent? What may fate or fortune bring them?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: Incident at the Library

This is the front door to a new library in the London Borough of Croydon. The mirrored windows prevent a good view inside, which means that you can’t see that there aren’t any books. The company that built it, which appear to be a spin out of the council, now say that they do not have enough money to finish it, and the doors remain locked to the public. The library is part of a new, mixed development and there are several levels above this that contain flats which have proved difficult to sell.

Around the corner the existing library has been a victim of council cuts but currently remains open three days a week. None of these days are on a weekend, meaning that people or families that are in full time employment are unable to visist unless they take time off work.

I took this photo after there had been an incident (I do not know the details) infront of the library, which for many weeks was cordened off with this police tape. There have been recent alligations of fraud against the council on another building, and while these have yet to be investigated, I kind of liked the ‘scene of crime’ association that this police tape adds to the photo of the unfinished library door. In my view, depriving a community of it’s libraries is crime enough.

Maybe this particular prompt is more social commentary than anything else, or perhapse a prompt to budding investigative journalists. What is the real story is behind the unfinished library?

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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New fiction posted on Simily

I’ve recently been doing a bit of investigation around the different platforms that are popping up for sharing written work. The reason for this is that I’ve had a short story sitting around on my computer that I’m pretty happy with, but I couldn’t find a place to put it. It’s been bounced from a couple of magazines with people saying it’s not there thing, and I feel pretty fine about that. Some of the other magazines that I was interesting in sending it too are still closed to submissions for now following the pandemic, and I’m I feel like I want to get it out there and move on to the next thing. It’s also bit long to post as a blog post, and I feel like my website may not be the best place to get it seen.

So, I’m trying out the new fiction sharing platform Simily, where I have posted my short story ‘Old Grey Beard’. The platform is currently trying to build up a membership and readershi base, and aim to connect readers with good stories and writers with a paying audience. At the moment if you read my story there, whether you decide to sign up to the platform or not, I’ll get paid $0.02 per view (reading for more than 5 second), so if you are interested in reading some of my work I’d appreciate it if you would head on over there and have a read.

I think I’m going to try it out for the next year or so and see how I get on. I don’t write that many shorts and I kind of struggle with them a bit so it may be a good way of getting a bit of feedback from people who don’t know and like me, which would be a great help too. So, I hope to see you over there, any and all comments greatly recieved!

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here

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Creative Prompt: A Fridge on the Street

I saw this fridge the other morning on a street near where I live. It was pretty gloomy when I took the photograph and I didn’t think that the light was that great so it was a bit of a hurried snap. We get a lot of fridges and things like that dumped in our area by fly tippers, and I don’t normally both to take photos because a big white box isn’t normally that interesting to me. This one was a bit different, because of the magnetic jigsaw puzzel that is still attached to the front door. The fridge was a new arrival that morning – it hadn’t been there the evening before.

The way that one of the puzzels looks almost complete, while the second one is a fractured smattering of pieces spread across the surface makes it looks as if up until very recently, this fridge was being used by a family. There is something about the dumping of this fridge that speaks to me of dislocation, or of a rapid change in circumstances.

What happened to result in someone needing to get rid of it in the middle of the night?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Ideas from science to boost your art: The psychology of curiosity

This is the first post in a series of blogs I’m tentatively calling ‘Ideas from science to help your art’. I’ve been increasingly interested in the science of creativity and storytelling for a while as my own adventures in creativity have developed over time. When I completed a PhD in the psychology of storytelling back in 2009 I was very interested in related work, but I haven’t really had the opportunity to return to that area in my professional life since then as my research career took a number of turns away from it.

Since I completed my film a couple of weeks ago I’ve found I have a bit more head space now, and am planning to write a series of longer blog posts about ideas in science that are related to the creative process and to storytelling. I imagine these posts will be a bit intermittent to begin with, as each post will require more research than I currently indulge in, and it’ll take a bit of time to work out how to fit everything in. But I am looking forward to the challenge or re-engaging with this area.

I came across the first idea I wanted to pick up while listening to ‘The Science of Storytelling’ by Will Storr on Audible (affiliate links – if you use these links to make a purchase I’ll get a tiny commission). I’m a bit of the way through chapter one at the moment and am finding it interesting. He has covered quite a bit of ground that I’m partially familiar with from my own psychology studies, and I think his way of communicating the science is clear and engaging. He has spent some time explaining how none of us truly know what reality is, rather we all live in a virtual simulation constructed in the brain from the information we gain through our five senses. Story is effective in tapping into the process through which we do this to create imaginative simulations.

I was particularly interested in a section he has written about curiosity, in which he draws on the work of George Loewenstien. I’ve not been able to access the papers that Storr references (they don’t appear to be available as open access sources and are expensive to purchase) so what I say here is based on how Storr presents this work, rather than my direct reading of the original science.

In this section Storr explains that curiosity works through the brain’s reward system, so the same bits that respond to cake and wine, creating a desire for answers to questions. He then goes on to describe how good stories incorporate curiosity into their structures. A story poses questions, and then allows answers to unfold slowly over time. He quoted Loewenstien’s paper ‘The Psychology of Curiosity’ to list four ways in which it is possible to induce curiosity:

  1. The posing of questions or the presentation of puzzles
  2. Exposing someone to a sequence of events that have an anticipated, but unknown resolution
  3. Violating a person’s expectations of something, causing them to search for an explanation
  4. Knowing that someone else of possesses information that you don’t have

He then goes on to describe how this is also the basic structure of any good crime drama. The harnessing of natural human curiosity is essential to making this genre of stories, and many others, work.

I found this section of the book very helpful. I don’t think I am always that good at posing questions in my own fiction writing, which may be why I have struggled to progress with my new draft of Feeding Jasmine Valentine, my WIP. As a mechanism for hooking readers in, this use of curiosity is effective.

But I also think that understanding how curiosity works is helpful for the creative process, for writing or making art. An unanswered question can drive a writer or an artist as much as it can a reader. Many of my own scenes or mini projects start with “why is that like that?” Or “why did X do Y?” questions, and from there the process of writing is also a process of discovery.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here

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Street Photography: New collection out this week

Over that last year and a bit I’ve been running a regular creative prompt blog post once a week where possible. During that time I’ve been taking photos of odd things and objects that I see out and about. It didn’t occur to me until recently that this is probably a form of street photography. I’ve certainly not really been calling it that until quite recently. This is probably because I haven’t really considered myself to be a photographer before, although I’m beginning to learn a lot more about photgraphy now as a creative practice through these regular posts.

I recently too a look back through some of the photographs for a round up of the last year’s prompts, and was kind of struck by how much I liked a small subsection of those photographs. I feel like a handful of them have a kind of gritty commersial appeal, and wanted to make more use of them than to leave them languish here on the blog.

I’ve not really done a photography collection on Redbubble before, but I felt like this may be a nice place to start, so I have curated a small selection of them and uploaded them onto Redbubble to see what the response may be. There are six at the moment. My aim is to get 15-20 into the collection. I have a few more in mind already from my existing portfolio, and will be keeping my eye out for more interesting finds.

So here it is – The Lost and Found Collection. As I said, it’s bit of an experiment for me, so any comments, feedback or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here.

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Creative Prompt: Wherever you lay your hat…

The property market in London is crazy, right?

I’d like to claim that I know what I’m looking for when it comes to street photography, but I don’t really. Sometimes just looking around as you walk about will gift you a funny photograph like this one. I took it the other morning while taking my son to nursery, and happened to stumble on this little ensamble, where someone had dumped a child’s toy house next a bin and a SOLD sign. When I walked back the other way the bin and the house had been moved and the joke was lost.

I really like this photo. For me it tells a saterical version of the London housing market story, where increasingly small patches of land are selling for increasingly large piles of cash. The streets around this spot are showing increasingly strong signs of gentrification, and there are a number of developers building small blocks of modern but characterless flats nearby.

What might the new neighbours will be like?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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