One writing prompt, so many stories

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I never consciously set out to write a certain story. The idea must originate somewhere deep within me and push itself out in its own time. Usually, it begins with associations

Ray Bradbury

Today is day 24 of Flash Nano, where during the month of November some writers are attempting to create thirty pieces of flash fiction in thirty days. With a burst of eager anticipation, I signed up again this year seeking to continue this voyage of discovery as a beginning writer. And this is the exact same spot I faced last year where I felt my enthusiasm wane and began to struggle to put words on the page in response to a writing prompt.

But I have been experimenting this year, taking one prompt and trying to create two separate flash fiction drafts – one in the morning and one in the evening. And it is fascinating how your creative brain can take the same prompt and deliver different responses, sometimes the divergence is drastic and astonishing.

Maybe this is like the snowflake phenomenon, where every snowflake in the world is precisely unique in some mysterious way. Writing stories that emerge from that unknown place that resides somewhere inside of us tells us more about how we think about our world than we may be mindful of. The best part of this experiment was the realization that as I have developed a writing routine, the spark needed to begin doesn’t have to be particularly special or profound.

It feels as if there are an infinite number of stories in us that we just need to gently nudge to bring into the world.

Picture prompts, first sentence lines, a snippet about a bizarre circumstance, all of these types of writing prompts seems to propel us to create something that is individual only to ourselves. And it is a worthy exercise to pay close attention to how other writers respond to the same prompt. It seems that we all have stories that need to be told.

When our writing group uses a prompt for spontaneous generative work, I love hearing how each of us approaches the words on the page. It is a marvel to listen to how other writers using exactly the same prompt have such diverse results. I learn something new each and every time we do this. Storytelling satisfies both our curiosity and that need for knowledge that we all have about each other and how we see the world.

The beauty of a writing prompt is that provides just a tiny push forward to release our words out into the world. And anything that helps us kickstart the writing process can only be a good thing.

Happy writing!

Writer’s Curiosity Drives Creativity

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Curiosity sparks creativity and that, in turn, leads to a self-sustaining system: Creative questions lead to curiosity, and curious questions lead to creativity.

Daphne Gray-Grant

In order to flourish, writers need to embrace curiosity. For most of us, being curious was a constant companion during our childhood years. Asking the critical questions, why? or what if? sparks a kind of wondering that takes us down a path where the stories we tell take root from those naturally curious questions we ask of ourselves and everything in the world around us.

Learning about things we don’t have the answers for, shapes the story telling process. And creativity begets creativity. Writers often follow threads like novelty, complexity, conflict or surprise that help them weave a piece of art. And this process may serve to lead us towards that coveted place in our minds where we achieve a state of “flow.” That mental space where words fly from our fingers to the page faster than we can get them down.

But to remain in a curious state, we are required to suspend several things. We must release judgement, strong negative emotions, and above all, apathy. Stories take shape when we seek knowledge, a way of seeing people, things, and places as we never have before. Being curious encourages us to strive to put into language things that are unspeakable and that we may have been blocked from seeing in some way.

Asking the questions we have about the world around us can unlock the way we think just enough to catch those sparks of creativity that we look for to start our stories. And we can also use this process to understand our own unique stories. To uncover those inner aspects of our lives that we haven’t previously thought about could suddenly makes sense to us in a story format.

Indeed, taking a different approach to developing an understanding of what makes people tick, of why things unfold the way they do, may make our small part of the world feel slightly different. Story telling keeps us feeling alive so learning new ways to become more curious will help us to become attuned for those moments that ignite our creative impulses.

And if we develop an intentional practice of becoming curious in our lives, we will be able to cultivate this so it shines like a beacon in our work inspiring readers to become curious and care about our words. Why not? Happy writing!

Stay healthy and safe!

Remembrance Day – November 11th

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In Flander’s Fields

In Flander’s fields, the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the dead, short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flander’s fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high

If ye break faith with us who die.

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

in Flander’s fields.

(From Poet.org – in public domain, written by John McCrae 1918)

Write on! It’s November

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There is something about just setting the pen to paper that lifts me and helps to focus my energy and thoughts

Susan Elaine Jenkins

With pen poised and in anticipation of all the amazing writing events that take place during the month of November, I feel like I am bubbling with ideas and good writing energy. Whether you are writing a novel or memoir in a month, a poem or a piece of flash fiction each day, there is no better opportunity than right now to kickstart a writing practice that might last through the long months of winter.

Although writing is a solitary practice, the community of writers in a multitude of genres who come together in November to encourage, cajole, and support one another provides the perfect backdrop to solidify a writing routine. It typically takes three weeks to develop and form a habit. So it doesn’t get any better than right now to join like minded writers from across the globe in this month long frenzy of sending your words out into the universe.

This is my second year signing up to participate in FlashNano! with Nancy Stohlman, who does a fabulous job of encouraging writers dabbling in flash fiction with amazing prompts, daily motivational emails, and providing a safe space for writers to connect and share their work. The creative sparks which radiate from this community infuse my daily forays into flash fiction.

And I know that when fatigue sets in in about two and half weeks, there will be a community of flash fiction writers to help with the final push to make it through to the end of this month. Regardless of the work I produce, I know that I am taking away so much more than thirty first drafts of short short stories. That is just the icing on the writing cake. What matters most is the felt sense of connection with story tellers from around the world.

Happy writing!!