Advice, Block, Craft, Doubt, Prompt, Tips, Writing

Keep the pen moving

My friend and fellow writer Cristina Trapani-Scott has begun a series she calls Twelve Days of Writing. In her first entry, she told how she taught her creative writing students to get past the inner voice that tells them they can’t write. We all fight that voice from time to time.

Cristina started her students with a prompt and told them to write for ten minutes. The secret, she says, is to keep the pen moving. Chances are you will be surprised that you’ve come up with at least a few good nuggets, even if you veered away from the prompt.

I know a lot of you write flash fiction, often from prompts, but that’s not a habit I’ve developed. I suppose I should at least try this ten-minute exercise. I tend to fight regimentation far more than is good for me. I don’t think a little discipline will kill my creativity. It might just preserve my sanity.

I suggest you check out Cristina’s first lesson and return for the next eleven.


[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]

Craft, Feedback, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Goals, Novel, Query, Rejection, Short story, Writing

A Year’s Worth of Writing

Have you reviewed your writing progress in 2010? In this and another post or two in the next two weeks, Ill take a look back at the highlights of mine. When I looked back at all the posts for this year, I was surprised at how many twists and turns I took.

At the beginning of the year, I thought I had a finished novel in query status, so I turned my attention to short stories. I wrote a post, Writing vs. Crafting, in which I vowed to not only read more short stories, but to write and submit for publication some of my own. Nothing to report on my stories, but I did read more of those written by others, including fabulous debut collections from Robin Black and Tracy Winn.

Next, I jumped out of the box and started my year of living dangerously. (Even though I lost sight of that along the way, it may explain the way my writing year will end. Stay tuned.) But back then, I dared myself again by trying a writing challenge: a micro flash story. And I wrote it from a prompt, which is something I hadn’t done for decades. It was so much fun I invited my readers to take the challenge too. 

And then, I fell apart. Rejection spawned dejection and in barged the Blue Muse. From the bottom there’s no way but up, so I went into warrior mode and wrote a new query letter and opening paragraph for my novel; entered two contests; and dissected a Flannery O’Connor story for a discussion group.

The decision to edit my novel again reminded me of a good beating and then, continuing with new experiences, my novel spoke aloud. I discovered frigid fiction, but soon I became blinded by the words. To my rescue came the fabulous Kayla Olson who volunteered to read and critique for me.

Again I needed to be reminded to wait for the words. Before long I had reason to panic over platform, but as the end of the first quarter of 2010 came to a close, I was riding the train of eternal optimism.

Your turn: Have you charted your writing progress this year? How did you fair?

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Inspiration, Prompt, Writing

The experiment results are in!

Thanks to all who participated in my writing prompt experiment. I changed the actual “results” to bold font to make it easier to see them among the comments, and if you took the prompt challenge, but haven’t shared your result yet, please do in a comment there. I think it’s interesting, the way we all started with the same words and then went in different directions. And just because I’m always curious how other writers work, I have some questions for you:

  1. Did your result come to you spontaneously, or did you give it some thought?
  2. Did you stick with your tried and true category/genre or try for something different?
  3. In the original prompt, the instructions were to write for 10 minutes without stopping, then put it aside until the next day when you could edit. How long did it take you to write yours and how heavily did you edit it?
  4. Do you regularly use writing prompts? And, if so, how often do they result in a finished piece?

If you care to know, my answers to the above questions are:  1. I stayed with my usual category.  2. It came to me spontaneously.  3. I followed the writing instructions (hard for me because I’m used to editing as I go) and I edited very little the next day. (That’s not to say it couldn’t use more.)  4. No, I don’t think I’ve ever used a writing prompt before.

And I know you’re all just dying to know what I wrote from the prompt 🙂 so, here’s a link to my flash story: Unspeakable Words