Trainstorming for Writer’s Block – #BlogChallenge

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I’m sure we’ve all read many great ideas by other writers who occasionally become stumped by writer’s block. We can take a break, work on another project, go for walk or do a myriad of other things to stimulate our creative juices, but my favorite thing to do is to use writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing.


I’ve written a few posts over the years about overcoming writer’s block and shared one of the books I use for writing prompt exercises, Natalie Goldberg’s – Old Friend From Far Away, where I used her prompts to create my ‘I am‘ series. But recently, I was reading a blog post over at Lana Broussard’s blog and I got this idea from her post there called the ‘Chatty Blitz’ to open up the creative channels.


I’m renaming my word prompt idea ‘Trainstorming’. The word is comprised of a brainstorming of words and thoughts followed like a train by the next sentence. What to do:

  • Start by choosing the first random sentence that comes to mind
  • Continue the next sentence (thought) beginning with the last word from the previous sentence
  • Keep on writing more sentences in same manner until you feel you’re done
  • Don’t think too hard what you’re going to write, just write the first thing that pops in your head
  • Now take a look at what you’ve written and you may just find a story to write about


After you’ve created your own trainstorm, you’ve exercised your mind and given yourself more words and/or ideas to prompt your writing and created a process that has the potential for a new story idea.


Here’s my example, done in 30 seconds: (On the airplane where I wrote this)


I will miss you beautiful Arizona.

Arizona desert heat and cacti flourish.

Flourish all of you beautiful flowers of spring.

Spring forward, don’t stay stagnant.

Stagnant thoughts don’t allow growth.

Growth is measured by . . . 


I challenge  any of you to continue on by using my last sentence above to begin your trainstorm and please feel free to share what you come up with below in comments or by leaving a link to your post.


Thank you to John Maberry for using this exercise for the intro to his short story – Derek’s Dominos


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Add a Comment
  1. Thanks Debby .. here is my effort – our line Growth is measured by

    By how tall we get
    Get to a certain height and you
    You can see across a crowded room
    Room that contains someone special who meets your eye
    Eye contact that connects you both for life

    1. Thanks for sharing your train of thoughts Sal. I love it. <3

        1. Thank you Sal. <3 :)

  2. A fun exercise to wake up the muse, Debby. I’m going to keep this one in mind for those mornings when coffee isn’t enough Lol 🙂

    1. Great Diana. It’s a great idea to not have to think so hard, just go with the first thought that comes to mind to continue the train. 🙂

      1. My way of dealing with writer’s block is usually to knuckle under and power through it. It’s nice to have a gentler alternative! Lol.

        1. Lol Diana, I hear you, but sometimes all it takes is a simple distraction to bring us back. 🙂

  3. I like the idea of “trainstorming” and your nostalgic example, Debby.

    1. Thanks Marian. 🙂

  4. Great idea. and trainstorming brings up lots of memories of the magic of trains when I was a kid–so just that word is a spark or prompt. I’m swamped with ideas and grateful to be in a writing group/class for 9 years now. My big issues are time and figuring out how to organize each day. My body and mood do not like sitting, sitting, sitting, so a little writing, but not hours and hours at this computer when flowers and bluebirds call me outdoors. Working away on two longer articles–slowly. And in the background, the bones of what may or may not be a book. 😉

    1. I hear you Elaine and admire your self discipline. Sitting too much is the worst part of our jobs. I’m glad you’ve found a way to just going outdoors for a healthy break. I think we are always searching for that magical balance between writing, blogging and living life. I hope to find my own balance, soon, one day. 🙂

  5. I like the process. Yours came out almost like a poem.

    1. See, you never know what will come out? 🙂

  6. Will have to try the full technique. For now, an aberration. Growth is measured by straying from the comfort zone–into untried and unknown. Haiku for an Asian man.
    Bloody doctor’s face
    Brutal United Airlines
    Fly unfriendly skies.

    1. Loved your continuation for growth. And I am soooooooo with you on the great haiku! Thanks for contributing John. 🙂

      1. So, here’s the extension of your trainstorming technique, as an introduction to a scifi story.

        1. I just added this to the post.:) Thanks for using ‘trainstorming’ in your story. 🙂

  7. Some lovely advice, Debby. When you co-author with an 11-year old, you don’t have writers block but I shall keep this in mind for my future ventures.

    1. Lucky you Robbie. It’s a fun exercise and you never know what will come to mind. Perhaps Michael would like to give it a try? 🙂

  8. Great idea. My brain sometimes just needs time to process the story although once it gets going I usually write quite quickly. Walks work for me… Thanks, Debby!

    1. Thanks for chiming in Olga. Walks are helpful for many including myself. Sometimes by distancing ourselves away from our work, ideas creep up when we’re more relaxed. 🙂

  9. By how we face the road ahead
    Ahead lies mystery and adventure
    Adventure spurs the mind to wonder
    Wonder fuels the spirit’s dreams
    Dreams take flight in . . .

    Hugs, Deb ?

    1. Oh T, I loved this. Written in true Tina style! <3 xo

  10. I love this Debby. I actually used a writing prompt for my last blog post about Easter, so I am a believer in using them. I don’t use them often but will check out the resources you have cited. Here’s my stab at transforming:

    Growth is measured by a yardstick.
    Stick out your tongue and mom will be mad.
    Mad mom is not my favorite.
    Favorite child is my brother.
    Brother is a bother if you ask me!

    1. Thanks for contributing here Molly. Look how your immediate thoughts went from a yardstick to mom and siblings, very interesting. 🙂

      1. It was a fun exercise, Debby.

        1. Thank you for participating Molly. <3

  11. Love this idea, Debby! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Natalie. 🙂

  12. I used a writing prompt for the essay I just published about Easter. I think they are great and I’ll check out your resources. Here’s my stab at ‘trainstorming:’

    Growth is measured by a yardstick.
    Stick out your tongue and mom will be mad.
    Mad mom is not my favorite.
    Favorite child is my brother.
    Brother is a bother if you ask me!

    1. HI Molly. Is WP acting weird? I read this comment, posted it and replied to you. Did you get my reply? And I loved your Easter post. Did you see my comment? Or am I in your spam?

      1. Nope. It’s me that’s acting weird but that’s nothing new. I thought my comment didn’t post and so I did another one. Embarrassing. LOL.

        1. No it’s not. I thank you for making the effort twice Molly, thinking it didn’t go through. I will delete one of them to make you feel better. 🙂

  13. Great one! I’m always looking for writing exercises to play with. I’ll play with yours. 😀

    1. Thanks Laura. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. 🙂

  14. Growth is measured by how many more Easter eggs I get than last year.
    Years come and go, but I never seem to feel as if I’ve aged.
    Aged wine is how I like my cheese
    Cheese and grapes are never turned down by me
    Me? I’m a bottle of wine that hopefully has many year before life consumes me and I am no more.

    That was fun. ? Thanks for sharing this idea with us, Debby.

    1. Lol, your entry was fun Hugh. I never feel like I age too, except those days when my hips go out to remind me I’m no longer 20, lol. You are a fine wine my friend. 🙂 xo

  15. Oh I know about the hips, Debby. I once got stuck in a lift with a hula-hoop salesman for 3 hours! Best fun I’d ever had, though. ?

    1. LMAO! 🙂 xx

  16. Love it! Beauty and growth cultivated from the Arizona dessert. Poetry indeed :D. Great job, my friend. Thanks for the shout out!

    1. Thank you Lana for stimulating the idea. 🙂

  17. Growth is measured from saplings to giant oaks.

    1. Beautiful Adele. <3

      1. Thank you, Debby, I thought this was a great idea. xx

        1. Thank you Adele. <3

          1. my pleasure, Debby xx

  18. Growth is measured by an increase in understanding
    Understanding yourself can move you closer to your goals
    Goals are a desired result
    Results come from hard work
    Work on yourself first 😀 xx

    1. Thanks so much Vashti for contributing your trainstorm here. I always love your haikus and sentiment. 🙂 xo <3

  19. Blogs like yours open up doors
    Doors that welcome us in to explore
    Explore the world outside our sphere
    Spheres of red, gold, blue, pink shine
    Shine our light through posts that delve
    Delve into the sunshine of our mind.

    That was fun! Thanks for the prompt tokeep us all open-minded for open doors. xo

    1. Thanks a bunch Pam for contributing here. I loved it. And thanks for the lovely compliment. Happy Easter! 🙂 <3

        1. Thanks Pam! <3

  20. Love the word trainstorm, and love the idea behind it too. It sounds like such a spontaneous writing exercise. The poem you came up with there flows along very nicely and I liked how you stopped at growth…. So apt because there is always a mystery about growth in that you never know where the journey will take you 🙂

    I often get stuck writing, and it happens more times than I can count. Sometimes I just sit there hoping an idea will come – sometimes they do and I get going. Other times I really have to just walk away because really nothing comes to mind or I am tired of sitting around, stumped 😀 Happy Easter if you celebrate it <3

    1. Hi Mabel. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. A walk is often helpful for many writers to distance ourselves from the task and a change of scenery often helps. But word prompts are also very useful because you can babble on with them and eventually they spark something new for us. 🙂 Happy Easter to you too. 🙂 <3

  21. I am a big fan of brainstorming. Now you have taught me to trainstorm. That is a brilliant idea that I will have to try.
    Blogger’s Pit Stop

    1. Thanks so much Kathleen. Glad to inspire you with a new idea. 🙂

  22. I love your word trainstorming. Like you, I enjoy coming up with new words and, because we are writers, I feel like it is OK to do this and incorporate them in our prose. 🙂

    1. Of course! It’s what we do. 🙂

  23. What a lovely idea I often use words or a page number and third sentence down to kick start my thoughts but I like this.

    Growth my waistline from all those food blogs
    Blogs and logs
    Logs for making charcoal
    Charcoal purifies water
    Water is the staff of life….

    mmmmm I suppose practice makes perfect lol

    I still think it is a great idea!

    1. Hi Carol, thanks for adding your thought train here. I love it, and how it corresponds to your recent post. I also like your idea you mentioned here about choosing a page and sentence to kickstart the juices! 🙂

      1. Thank you 🙂

      2. Debby thank you I love the idea of the thought train it is a great way of getting your thoughts to wander if you don’t overthink it 🙂

        1. Most welcome Carol. That’s it exactly! No thinking just go with the flow. 🙂

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