Saturday, 15 April 2017

Creative Prompts 9 (ft. my own work & word, image & NEW sentence prompts!)

creative prompts writing prompts creative bloggers in the uk vivatramp lifestyle blog

I'm back with a plethora of creative prompts for writing, art, blog posts, photography, essays, and all manner of other creative outlets, in order to help inspire your current or prospective creative projects. If you've been wanting to create something for a while now but you just aren't sure what, this feature is for you! And this time, it comes with added sentence prompts. Thorough.

I have also, for the first time ever, shared examples of my own creative work inspired by the prompts. In the interests of brevity and illustrating how easy and speedy creativity can be, I decided to put two minutes on the clock and see what I could come up with. The results are featured below. The pieces might not be groundbreaking, sure, but they've still been muddled into existence and all creativity is good creativity. Kind of...

As always, I have a little list of words that you can, hopefully, use creatively - whether you use them literally or in more of an abstract sense. Use them for nostalgic essays, urban photosets, pieces of flashfiction, the end result is in your hands! 

1. handlebars
2. alabaster  
3. scraps
4. phantom
5. abstinence 
6. ice cold cola
7. plaything
8. immunity
9. sugarsnap
10. the motel 

Two minutes on the clock, I reached for the handlebars prompt and created a little poem centred on teenage nostalgia.

writing prompts blog creative bloggers writers in the uk vivatramp bee stevenson

team games

those sticky sweet forever 

head over handlebars

painting skies 
for rockstars who wouldn't ever know my name

Some of us are a lot more visual and find images a lot more evocative, that's fair enough. I've randomly selected four images that I think you could definitely use as a basis for all kinds of creativity. I want to see more film snaps of country churches, an abstract take on classic fairground caricatures and a poem all about delicious food and nourishment. Make my wishes come true, pls!

writing prompts creative bloggers lifestyle blog vivatramp uk

vivatramp blog lifestyle writing prompts
  (photo credit

writing prompts creative prompts vivatramp uk lifestyle blog
  (photo credit

Two minutes on the clock, and Carly Rae Jepsen on Spotify, I saw the legs of the pier in the third photograph and decided to create a piece of creative non-fiction r:e the spaces we don't inhabit. It is brief but I like the concept. God bless you, inspirational pier legs.

I have always wanted to sit, silently, in the spaces in between. The uninhabitated places. Alabaster arms wrapped around the wooden slats underneath a pier. Legs dangling, cautiously, in drains. Eyes falling on abandoned outhouses in far-off places.  Dreaming, headily, about painting my footfall to make some sort of tangible global scratch map that doesn't just sit, rolled up, in a tube under my bed. Painted footfall marking entire towns in powder-pink whilst entire continents lie, pale in comparison, untouched.

Sometimes you might need a little more than just a word or an image to help you along. And so, this time around, I have compiled a selection of ten sentences to get you started. Take elements from them. Base entire pieces on them. That's your decision! You could create a cool photoset based around the convenience of supermarkets, or paint the dank dish-cloth sky, or write a song about those worn hand-me-downs. Be playful and see where it gets you!

1.  they were a fraud 
2.  we lost ourselves in hand-me-downs
3.  the clock turned twelve o'clock on that very same platform...
4.  i was always getting lost 
5.  see you at the supermarket 
6.  all they wanted was a lazy day by the sea
7.  the car, lifeless, on that dizzy edge
8.  you wished that everything was buy one get one free
9.  that dank dish-cloth sky stayed for days
10.  i sat staring at the open door for an entire summer

Carly Bae's masterpiece album, Emotion, still on Spotify, I added another two minutes to the timer and started work on a piece of 140 character flashfiction inspired by the hand-me-downs sentence prompt. Granted, it didn't leave me with much breathing space content-wise but I quite enjoyed fitting it into place with a connected idea.

creative prompts vivatramp blog uk

We lost ourselves in hand-me-downs, pillowed pawing at the window pane as we watched you soft-shoe shuffle into someone else's life.

And those are my creative prompts for writing, art, photography, blog posts, etc, for you to use as a building block on your way to creative mastery...Use them in whatever way you wish. Did you like the new additions - my two minute examples and the sentence prompts? I'd love a little feedback on them! 

Are there any other types of prompts you like to see me share, e.g concept prompts and the like? Let me know. Are you working on anything creative at the moment? What creative projects do you want to start? Scroll through my other creative prompts for further inspiration. You can also check out my other creative blog posts


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Book Haul feat. Charlotte Hobson

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I unconsciously restrained myself in March and didn't end up buying any books out of my own pocket. I did, however, receive a few books from publishers: one that I requested, one that I was recommended and one that I received unsolicited. 

It's 1987. Billy Marvin, the tallest boy in ninth grade, has just witnessed history. Wheel of Fortune presenter Vanna White is on the cover of PlayboyBilly and his friends, Alf and Clark, know that if they can get hold of the magazine, their world will change. Forever. But as Billy says, 'No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy.' As they set out on their mission to find the most wanted images in America, they're blissfully unaware of the dangers, dramas and garbage dumpsters that lie ahead. And of how a girl called Mary might just change one of their lives. Forever.

The people at Faber messaged me asking if I would like a review copy of this title and, upon reading the blurb, I accepted. The bulk of my library consists of heavy and sad novels and this sounds like it could be a little lighter which is a welcome change, to be honest. I'm looking forward to the throwback vibes of 1987 and will be sure to pick it up when I'm looking for a little relief from emotional novels. I'm really into the cover, by the way. It is simple but captures nostalgia for a bygone era perfectly. 

the vanishing futurist charlotte hobson book bloggers in the uk vivatrmp
When twenty-two-year-old Gerty Freely travels to Russia to work as a governess in early 1914, she has no idea of the vast political upheavals ahead, nor how completely her fate will be shaped by them. Yet as her intimacy with the charismatic inventor, Nikita Slavkin, deepens, she's inspired by his belief in a future free of bourgeois clutter, alight with creativity and sleek as a machine. In 1917, revolution sweeps away the Moscow Gerty knew. The middle classes - and their governesses - are fleeing the country, but she stays, throwing herself into an experiment in communal living led by Slavkin. In the white-washed modernist rooms of the commune the members may be cold and hungry, but their overwhelming feeling is of exhilaration. They abolish private property and hand over everything, even their clothes, to the collective; they swear celibacy for the cause. Yet the chaos and violence of the outside world cannot be withstood for ever. Nikita Slavkin's sudden disappearance inspires the Soviet cult of the Vanishing Futurist, the scientist who sacrificed himself for the Communist ideal. Gerty, alone and vulnerable, must now discover where that ideal will ultimately lead.

I haven't seen anyone discuss this title which seems weird because that blurb stood out to me the minute I spied it in Faber's catalogue. I love a bit of dystopia and anything to do with cults so this should be an extremely worthwhile read for me. I'm popping it on the imminent side of my TBR shelf. Have you read this? Is it as good as it seems?

the things only you can see when you slow down book haul booktube
The world moves fast, but that doesn't mean we have to. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations. Haemin Sunim's simple messages - which he first wrote when he responded to requests for advice on social media - speak directly to the anxieties that have become part of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down.

I'm not usually one for this kind of book but when I slipped it out of the envelope, albeit unsolicited, I was pleasantly surprised. It is beautifully published. There's no doubt about that. The illustrations elevate the simple philosophical messages on mindfulness and it makes for a nice balance. I'm looking forward to flicking through this of an evening if only for the stunning illustrations - those postcards are going to make perfect bookmarks! This would probably make a nice coffee table book or gift for a friend that needs to take the hint and sit down once in a while. 

A minimal book haul but a good one. What books have you bought or rented from the library recently? Anything you would recommend? If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead.


This post features affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've provided I'll receive a 5% commission to put back into the blog. *Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me for review purposes by the publisher.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Spring & Summer Manifesto 2017

spring summer to do list blog vivatramp lifestyle blog

this spring and summer, i will:

try some fish on the bbq 
use that national trust membership, ffs 

read, read and read
take poppy to new-to-her places 

..and don't forget visits to the beach and the woods! 
make some at-home cocktails

dust off my summer clothes
maybe wander to barcelona

park the comfy seats on the patio
stroll down to the car boot sale

fill the windowsill with flowers, more often 
put those little lights up in my room

while away afternoons in beer gardens
play more records

track down the ice lolly moulds
celebrate my birthday with a bbq, again

have a good clear out
save money from said clear out 

make mazes from the windbreaks
eat ice-cream from the tub

write more poetry
and share it, somehow

(photo credit
idea credit)

Write your own manifesto below, if you fancy, and scroll through all my other lists over the years if you'd like to.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Book Reviews feat. Olivia Laing & TBR

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March was looking like such a good reading month for me and then I became the mother of a teeny tiny black labrador puppy, named Poppy, and all of my attention turned to her! I'm not complaining because that's a delicious reason to not read but I'm hoping that I can get her a little more settled over the next month in order to have more time to myself. Despite not having an overly busy reading month, I did manage to read a bit of non-fiction and a short story collection, both of which were on last month's TBR, before the month was up! So, all in all, it could've been a lot worse!


the lonely city olivia laing book review blog vivatramp
FINISHED: 30/03/17 | PAGES: 315  | ISBN: 1782111239 
What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives - from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, from Henry Darger's hoarding to David Wojnarowicz's AIDS activism - Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It's a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.

The Lonely City is an eclectic beast - it's part memoir, part sociopolitical commentary, part art criticism, part art history, part historical look at NYC and the creative minds it has spawned, and it's all really bloody good.

For something so sprawling in its scope, Laing manages to move seamlessly between each subject making each chapter feel both intimate and well-observed. She moves from her own personal experience of loneliness in NYC, following a relationship breakdown, to the experiences and motivations of urban-dwelling artists that either experienced or channeled loneliness or otherness in their life and work. Laing offers studies on various artists here, from Warhol to Wojnarowicz, and touches on a multitude of issues from sexuality to mental illness, from the impact of otherness on isolation, to the AIDS epidemic. It's clearly well-researched and wonderfully structured, despite being a hybrid of many different styles and subjects, and it was entirely fascinating. 

Laing isn't aiming to unpick loneliness to find some sort of panacea for herself and her readers. The Lonely City, therefore, isn't a self-help book. It's more of a meditation on loneliness and an acceptance that, sometimes, it just is what it is but, sometimes, it can inspire entire groups of people...even entire movements. I left this book with a head full of creative insight and an urge to go back to page one and start again. 

It is definitely worth your time, even if you're sat there thinking 'but I don't really read non-fiction...'. Go out and buy it and be prepared to annotate every single page. I loved it. 


FINISHED: 31/03/17 | PAGES: 273  | ISBN: 9781844080717
Set mostly in lush, heady colombia but even in a jungle-like new york city, they yoke together the fates of guerrilla soldiers, rich kids, rabbits, hostages, bourgeois expats, and drug dealers. interconnected yet fractured in places, the result is a narrative jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing, or a kaleidoscope where different characters spin into focus as they take turns to come into focus. her characters' voices are completely haunting - and pachico's playfulness with language and mastery of consciousness create a mesmerising collective atmosphere. 

From a stoner re-imagining of Watership Down to an imprisoned teacher that now teaches Hamlet to the jungle's sticks and leaves, The Lucky Ones is a collection of tentatively linked stories that has a lot going on. 

These stories are atmospheric, a bleak intensity suffocating the pages, and each tale embodies the sights, smells and sounds that it takes such careful time to imagine for you. Think woody undergrowth, think drugs, think the heady chorus of parties. The stories bounce around chronologically and the narrator doesn't really reveal themselves right away and so it takes you a fair few pages to find your footing, if at all. It's probably no surprise, reflecting back, that there were times where I felt really puzzled as to what was going on. I think I may have come to this collection with somewhat of a disadvantage, too, knowing next to nothing about Colombian history or politics. I felt like a bit of an outsider, as such, throughout. 

I wasn't wild about this collection but, for the most part, I think that's down to my personal tastes when it comes to short stories. Pachico's writing is absorbing and evocative and, as such, I would be interested in reading anything she has published in the future. Who knows, I may give this a re-read and find that my head is more in it. 


I really want to get back into the swing of things reading-wise this month so I'm going to put four things on my TBR pile: three novels and one trade paperback.

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I'm after a little adventure in my reading this month and this tale of an unlikely group coming together in the face of danger and a desire for freedom sounds like the tonic! I hauled it just last month but there's no time like the present, right?! 
A sneaky new purchase that arrived just this morning, Black Wave has been at the top of my to buy list ever since I saw it on the publisher's Twitter page. Look out for it in next month's book haul and book reviews!  

the girls emma cline blog saga review book bloggers in the uk vivatramp

the girls by emma cline  
The Girls has been sat on my shelf for a year and I love coming-of-age cult stuff so I really need to pick it up. I read the first couple of chapters for a Try A Chapter tag post and enjoyed it so it seemed silly to keep putting it off with no good reason. I'm about half way through and I'm all for the poetic writing style. I'll keep you posted! This novel is also sat on my Books To Read in 2017 list so it'll be extra satisfying to finish it!

saga vol. 7 by brian k. vaughan and fiona staples 
I couldn't exactly leave the new volume of my favourite series sat there, could I?! I read these volumes as soon as they're placed in my paws so, again, expect to see this in next month's book haul and book review posts. 

A kind of quiet reading month but a good one towards the end! What did you read last month? Did you enjoy it? Leave your TBR's in the comments below too!  If you aren't quite done here, you can scroll through all of my book blog posts. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead. 

Links to books are affiliate links. If you don't fancy any of these books but would still like to use my link to purchase some books with, please use my general Book Depository link. Thanks, pals! Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me by the publisher for an honest review. 

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