Rebecca Smith is a principal teaching fellow in English and Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and has run many one-off workshops for writers of all ages and abilities. Her book, The Jane Austen Writers’ Club is a practical guide to writing that draws on Jane Austen’s novels, letters and the way Austen lived her life. Rebecca enjoys devising innovative and useful writing exercises and activities for her students and will share some of them here. If you would like to book Rebecca Smith to run a writing workshop, please use the contact form.

Image of dragon from Chinese Zodiac, Year of the Dragon.

Inspiration from the work of Paul Anthony Harford (1943 – 1916)
Start writing a story inspired by one of these pictures by Paul Anthony Harford. The British seaside is important in his work as seen in these three beautiful and intriguing pictures. The images are from Sadie Coles HQ.


Try writing from the point of view of a person on this bus.


What happened and what were these people talking about before they fell asleep? What are they dreaming about? What will happen when they wake up?


Attacked by eagles and gulls! How and why has this happened? What might happen next? Write from any point of view.


Celebrating The Year of The Dragon

1. Get some fortune cookies – two for each person is ideal – and snap them open. You are allowed to eat them before you begin. Then start writing something with bits of one or both fortunes, or write about somebody opening a fortune cookie, or somebody who makes, sells, delivers, or has some other connection to them.
2. Write about somebody who is a dragon (i.e. born in 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928 etc.)
3. Write about somebody who keeps or encounters a dragon of some kind, or who works with something like a dragon (e.g. a gecko, a Komodo dragon).
4. Write about somebody who is like a dragon or who wishes that they were