After planning to spend a day working on the garden, the weather has eventually chased me indoors. With the rain throwing itself at the windows and the sky grey with cloud, it might at first appear to be an uninspiring scenario, an excuse to curl up with a book or watch daytime TV. However, taking the opportunity while my husband entertains our children, I have brought my laptop upstairs to our bedroom.

Often people look elsewhere for inspiration, outside their normal lives. They sometimes feel that there is nothing worthwhile writing about close to home. On days when your mood is as rainy and grey as the weather outside, take one more look inside.

Here is your challenge. Look at a surface in your home - a shelf, the top of a chest of drawers, a windowsill - any surface that holds a selection of items. For instance, on the top of the chest of drawers in my bedroom are two wedding photos, a figurine that holds two of my necklaces, and currently a cup of tea. On the windowsill is a paperweight - one of those glass ones that contains swirls of colour, in this case purple and green - and a deep blue glass vase that I bought in Malta.

Write down the items on your surface. Can you combine them into an idea for a story? You don't have to write about each item itself. For instance, my photographs could suggest a wedding setting. My vase could equally place my story in Malta or on holiday. The colours of the paperweight could be an element too. The only rule is that you use an element of each item in your story.

Have a go. Look inside and stretch your imagination.


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