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2021: Celebrating The Writers' Greenhouse
10 YEAR anniversary!

Friday, 1 January 2021

Weekly writing prompt: A List of Jobs

List: Jobs

In the run-up to the online Imaginary Worlds course in February, I'm posting a writing prompt each weekend, to carry you through the winter – plenty of different stuff for you to play around with as a chance to experiment, start inventing, get your pen moving, and have fun!

This week's prompt is a list exercise: A LIST OF JOBS. All the jobs you can think of: contemporary jobs that people have now; historical jobs like leech collectors or "nightsoil men"; craft-based jobs like farrier or blacksmith; sci-fi future jobs; imaginary jobs like "cloud-scrubber". Jobs you think sound wonderful, exciting, intriguing. Jobs you think sound baffling or dreary. For 10 minutes, write down as many jobs as you can.

That's it! That's the exercise! Often, when we're creating characters on the fly, we struggle to think of jobs for them, so spending 10 mins just exercising your thinking-of-jobs muscle (one of the lesser known muscles) is a brilliant thing to do. Inventing future and imaginary jobs can also be a great starting point to create a world and if you already have a world, discovering some of the jobs in it will greatly enrich your world-building. You can also use some of your real-world jobs to think about your world: which of those jobs would still exist? How would they be different?

If you'd like to take it further, then after the 10 mins, or on another day, pick one of the jobs that intrigues you, whether pleasantly ("museum curator", for me) or with horrified fascination ("nightsoil men", for sure.) And then spend a bit more time exploring it...

  • What do they need to know, to do their job? What do they need to be good at?
  • What do they love about their job - in general, and in the day-to-dayness of it?
  • What are the misconceptions around their job? What are the bits that would surprise people?

You can do this as freewriting, allowing a sense of the character who has that job to emerge as you go along, and that character might grow into a story, into a part of an existing story, or into a poem about them or in their voice. Completely up to you. Enjoy!

If you'd like to find out more about the Imaginary Worlds course this February, you can read about it and book here. I'll be posting writing prompts each week, so if you want them delivered to your inbox, you can subscribe to the blog here:

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You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to get reminders. Details about the course and how to book are here.


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