Inspiration for this prompt came from the very wonderful How To Be A Writer by Barbara Baig, which I’ve only just started reading, but which echoes what I’ve been saying here for years (so naturally, I think she’s a genius!)
Not everything you write should be written with a view to showing it to anyone else.
Just as you would practice the piano in private for months or years before hoping to be able to bring any pleasure to a listener, writers must practice their craft too…sometimes in private.
Write A Story That Is You Will Never Show To Anyone
- Don’t cheat and tell yourself that something magical is bound to happen and that you’ll end up writing a story so good that you’ll feel compelled to show it to people. Promise you will not show it to anyone and stick to that.
- If you’re having trouble coming up with something to write about, dive into your stash of Story Sparks (you have been collecting them, haven’t you?)
- If you haven’t been collecting Story Sparks out in the real world, take ten minutes right now and look deep inside yourself. What news story annoyed you this week? Which political candidate do you despise the most? Why? What did you see that was beautiful, recently? What is your strongest memory of your mother? Why? What did summer smell like when you were growing up? Who do you miss? What’s your favorite swear word? What frightened you when you were a child? What frightens you now?
- Make a quick list of 30 Story Sparks. (If you don’t know what I mean by story sparks read this article)
- Look at your list and pick the three that leap off the page. Ask yourself what kind of character would care about those things?
- Pick a moment in that character’s life to write about. What are they wrestling with? What’s getting in their way? Who do they need to dump?
- If you need more help turning you Story Sparks into a story, read this article
- Start writing the story as soon as you feel you hear the character’s voice in your head, or as soon as you come up with an idea that tickles you.
- Any time you get stuck, write “And because of that…” and keep going until you get to a point where the character faces a choice. Let them make their choice and then wrap up the story.
- Read it over. Find a line or a section you really enjoy. Pat yourself on the back. Bask in the writerly glow, then make yourself a really good cup of tea/coffee/adult beverage. You deserve it.