Lately, I have been spending more time practicing my writing than working on my novel, and I can honestly say it has been for the better. I am still moving forward on my novel by working through the structure and new ideas in my head. Sometimes this process muddies the waters but more often it allows me to see clearly all the way down to the riverbed, but my daily practice is the driving force that will help me get through to the end.
I also read (and re-read) Joe Bunting’s book, Let’s Write a Short Story, which can be found at one of Joe’s sites The Write Practice or Let’s Write A Short Story or at Amazon. I took the approach that I need more practice before I will be able to complete my first novel and what better way than to improve my ability to write a story. Additionally, the confidence of completing a smaller project that must contain all of the same elements of a story will be worth any time spent away from my novel.
Practice tips are included throughout the book and after every blog post. A morphing of several tips lead me to develop my own method for daily practice. I chose to take at least five to ten minutes, once or twice a day, and write a descriptive passage based on an emotion, a feeling, an object, a character or any other single item I imagined.
This method of practicing frees my mind from the constraints of my current project. These practice passages open my creative mind to new ways of approaching just about any aspect of a great story. What’s freeing is not having to adhere to or develop a backstory or do extensive world building because these are just snippets. The thoughts of “my character would never do that” or “that would be impossible in this world” never come into play.
And you know what the most freeing part is? It doesn’t have to be good. I write it and can set it aside, never to be read again. I’ve written a few passages that I am proud of and may choose to develop. If I can work out a full story that fits with the passage I wrote in practice perhaps I will use the piece in a completed short story or novel. You never know.
Although I ask myself for only five or ten minutes to complete the practice, by the time I am done fifteen or thirty minutes have usually flown by. The following passage took just over thirty minutes to write. Other than correcting some typos and minor errors, the piece has not been edited.
If you have a few minutes I would be interested to hear your thought on my piece or how you practice your own creative pursuits in the comments below.
Dumbfounded described his sudden feelings perfectly. Perplexed? No that was too scientific. Dumb. Founded. A wonderful juxtaposition of two words with so little in common, but his thoughts led him down a path designed to distract him. It worked. His mind knew him better than he knew himself. He pulled his mind back to the situation at hand. The predicament he found himself in could never have been predicted, at least not under the normal laws of physics.
He began to pace the room. He pictured the great thinking minds of the world pacing or walking through a beautiful campus setting solving their problems. With such little room to pace, he doubted the same methods would work for him here.
The sea roared below him. At least that is what he assumed made that sound. He had never been to the sea, so he pieced together memories of sea noise from movies and decided it matched.
The diamond shaped window sat high in the wall, emitting enough light for him to review his surroundings, but too high and far too small for an escape. The curved walls began at the deep red wooden door and ended back at its hinges. The black iron showed no signed of rust, in fact they appeared newly painted. No handle or latch was visible on his side of the door, only a comically large keyhole, which made him chuckle a bit. The infrequent yet distinct marching coming faintly through the underside of the door prevented him from peering through the hole.
Moments ago he had been in the gym locker room in Ohio. Now the ancient stone walls, beastly wooden door and sound of the sea altered his well established understanding of reality. Had he asked for this? Perhaps, his mind answered him before going silent. He was at last alone. Truly alone.
Metal scrapping metal drew his attention back to the door. The hinges squeaked as the door inched inward.