As wiser and more articulate people before me have noted, creativity is muscular; you need to flex it regularly to build and maintain its strength. Writers use many different techniques to exercise their imaginations, from notebooks to role-playing. There is no right or wrong way to do it, only what you find useful and what you do not.
I was dragged into writing again a few years back by a friend of mine who took part in a regular ‘flash fiction’ competition. He thought I’d get a kick out of it, and he wasn’t wrong. I won’t say I became addicted to the challenge, but there was something about the compactness of the work, the variety of prompts that had to be used, and the tightness of the deadline that seemed to drag me back week after week.
It sparked my imagination like nothing else has before or since.
I won’t go into it in detail here, but we did record a podcast on our experiences for Geek Syndicate many moons ago, featuring the lovely Lily Childs. (You can listen to it here if you like.) It’s funny but, as I progress in the editing field, I find the urge to write my own words (and my own worlds) coming back to me in ever-strengthening waves. I have neither the time or the creative strength (yet) to do anything about it, but I’d love to get back into the routine of writing flash fiction.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to host my own little competition here at The Fine-toothed Comb.
‘Flashes of Inspiration’ will run on a fortnightly basis, beginning in the new year. We’ll keep the pieces nice and short to ensure everyone can manage it. I’m thinking of a maximum of 500 words, but I might change things up now and again in order to keep us flexible. I will post up a prompt on Day 1 and writers will then have a single week to write and submit their pieces. These will be posted up on my website in an anonymised form and then I’ll open it all up for voting.
At the end of the second week, I’ll post the writing credits up under each submission and announce the winner. We’ll keep on going for as long as people find it useful, interesting, and fun. Initially we’d be playing purely for the exercise (and the winner’s kudos), but I’m also thinking of offering up small editing jobs as prizes every once in a while. I guess it depends on how well it all takes off and also how intensive my paid editing work becomes.
So what do we think? Are you up for the challenge?
Ping me a message, send me an e-mail, or stick your hands up in the Comments section below. I’ll get things organised as soon as possible.
Oh, and feel free to share this with your friends.