Monday, June 30, 2008

Writing In A Flash

I don't believe in writer's block. I've said that many times. However, I'm not naive, and I know that we sometimes come to a screeching halt with whatever story we're writing. The question is, what do we do?

I've discovered a few things that keep me writing, keep me moving forward. When I get to chapter nine and find I'm not sure how to begin chapter ten, I think about those scenes that have played out in my head, but fit further along in the story. Then I write them. Sure, there's a gap between where I stopped the story and the scene that may or may not appear in chapter fifteen. But--I'm writing. I'm creating. I'm not sitting and staring at a blank computer screen.

Some of my colleagues write flash fiction, short stories and poetry. I've written short stories, and I have a flash fiction piece recently accepted for publication next year. Flash fiction is particularly a great exercise to hone our skills for being concise and using an economy of words to describe our characters and their situations. It's a story of less than 1,000 words that has a beginning, a middle, an end and, ususally, an unexpected twist. There is an art to this form of writing. And it can be fun.

A third tactic for keeping my story alive and moving forward is brainstorming--talking the story out with another writer or critique partner. This opens your mind to new possibilities in your story. And it's not always what the other person suggests, but what you hear yourself say aloud about your story as you talk it through that energizes you to continue.

We all stall out at times, uncertain about the next line, the next scene, or how to get from where we are to the story's end. The most important thing is to not remain stuck. Write something, anything. Keep the creative juices flowing, even if you have to write a short essay about the frustration of being stuck.

Trust me. The next word will come to you -- in a flash.

Now, go. Write something.