Sunday, 1 June 2014

Flash Fiction, Life & Resistance

One of my goals for this week was to write some flash fiction. I am happy to report that I got started on not just one but FOUR flash fiction pieces.

I'm using Holly Lisle's free flash fiction course together with Doreen Virtue's Angel Tarot cards (for the visual and verbal writing prompts). The flash fiction course does not require the cards to create story ideas, it's just something I wanted to try. The two tools together gave me some exciting ideas and I'm very happy with what I've written so far.

The course splits up the 500-word short into three sections. The first section, the beginning - and this is the only section of the four stories that I've worked on so far - is limited to 150 words max.

I loved the challenge of establishing character and setting within that constraint. So much so, that I've written and rewritten one particular story beginning a dozen times or more, trying to beat my own wordcount! Doing this has made me:
  • carefully consider the words I use because I need the most precise words to quickly create rich pictures in the reader's mind;
  • think about how I structure my sentences, mostly for the sake of brevity;
  • cut out repetition and redundancies (e.g. from my first story She gazed out the window at - 6 words - was changed to She gazed out at - 4 words- to Outside - 1 word. Yay!).

Thoughts on writing advice

My little guy and I have been under the weather all week. In fact, just today I've managed to sniffle my way through an entire box of 110 3-ply tissues followed by half of a second box. Miserable is a word that comes to mind.

Yet, this development has led me to some thoughts on one particular piece of writing advice that goes around the writing community. (Or maybe it's just my interpretation?)

Image courtesy of Karen Arnold at publicdomainpictures.net
It's about "pushing through" the hurdles. Not letting anything get in our way. Not giving in in the face of obstacles but forging ahead, come hell or high water.

There are two kinds of obstacles, I feel. There's the "obstacle" called Life and there's the obstacle called Resistance. Life is more of an outer obstacle, Resistance an inner one.

Life

When Life throws hurdles in our way, such as illness or stress or tragedy or upset or anything else, then forcing our way past it, trying to block it out so we can WRITE is counterproductive, I feel. When Life throws something at us, weneed to respond to it. We need to dig deep and act, or we need to surrender and rest. One or the other. Trying to push aside whatever Life throws at us so we can write means we are pushing away opportunities for change and growth and development, the exact fodder we need to write great stories!

Resistance

Now, on the other hand, there's resistance. Not wanting to write because we're afraid. Not wanting to write because we'd prefer to do something easier like watch tv, or surf the net, or watch YouTube videos, or whatever out preferred mode of distraction from discomfort is.

THIS, I feel, is the time when we need to make ourselves sit down and write. THIS is when we need to "push through" the resistance, the fear, the discomfort. It's the only time we should "push through" and not let our fears and discomforts get the better of us.

Goal Update

So, did I complete all my goals last week? Due to Life's Hurdles, no. I did not finish any flash fiction, although I started FOUR (doing a snuffly happy dance here). I did comment on three or four ROW80 blogs, but I didn't get started back into my revision by Friday at the latest. So be it. I know myself well enough by now to understand that I will not do my best work when I am forcing it out come hell or high water in the face of Life's Hurdles.

Goals for the coming week are:
  1. Comment on 3 ROW80 blogs at least;
  2. Finish at least 2 of the flash fics;
  3. Get started on phase 3 of the revision a la Susan Dennard's Revision Guide.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of this pervasive attitude to writing - "write no matter what"? Is it just my interpretation of this "advice" or is it truly the message that is given to writers?

And, as always, check out the other ROW80 blogs!

6 comments:

  1. Awesome about the flash fiction. I took that class and absolutely loved it! It helped me with I was having some serious health issues and couldn't handle writing a novel. Writing flash gave me a sense of accomplishment and I was able to continue writing. Good luck with your stories.

    As for writing through obstacles...I'm a firm believer in that. I've written through migraines, severe back pain, surgery recovery....but sometimes the brain (and muse) needs a break. It's at those times that I think it's okay to not write. As long as you're clear on why, you know? If you're just afraid to, as you pointed out, then by all means, push through. Absolutely. I think it's a very personal thing. :D

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  2. I needed to read this today! Lovely distinction between inner and outer obstacles. Life certainly has a way of throwing one challenge after another. Ryan King in his motivational post mentioned the power of meditation. Sometimes I think we sidestep that most important process of accepting and reflecting. And, resistance! You nailed that one. The words that stay with me -- "because we'd prefer to do something easier." Sometimes I am not ready to write. But the desire to write does not go away. So hope the sniffles are soon gone and you are writing with full energy!

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  3. Congratulations on the flash fiction! I've enjoyed writing short stories for the same reason -- the challenge of honing your words and your story. Flash fiction is really upping the challenge, though: There's a big difference between 5,000 words and 500! Best wishes with it.

    And I love what you said about life vs. resistance. I believe that's true.

    Have a great week!

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  4. Love Flash Fiction; quick and instant gratification. I've started planning my week out similar to you with goals and even if I don't do anything, I am more on track and productive than with no planning. Intentions are good but they don't get things done.

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  5. sometimes LIFE can be pushed past - the trick is to know when it shouldn't be:) as to resistance oh I'm sure we all have had that even if we don't admit it - yet sometimes it can be a matter of brain trying to disengage for perfectly sound reasons, needing time to reflect, to let imagination run riot or even to subconciously work something out

    one thing for sure our minds are crazy fellows!

    all best with the flash fiction - it is fun:)

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  6. Thank you all for weighing in with your thoughts. It's great to read all the different points of view on this topic. I'm loving it!

    Every comment has made me think more about the 'write every day' piece of advice, how I feel about it, and how you feel about it.

    I suspect I'm not finished with this subject just yet, and there is very likely another post in the works. :)

    And I'll respond to the comments individually a little later. Thank you!

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Hi! I love reading new comments so thank you for sharing. I'll be sure to get back to you to continue the conversation. :)