29 March, 2016
Mini Projects for Mini Amounts of Time
In some ways I was desperate to get back to the novel I'd been working on up to my due date, but I knew that would be a bad idea.Writing a novel is a huge investment of time. If you only get a few minutes a day to work on it, a single draft can take years. It can be disheartening to have no completed pieces of work month after month. Before launching back into that marathon I decided I needed to do some shorter races, just to be able to tell myself I had written, edited and refined an entire piece of work.
I had been asked to write a guest post for The Faraday Institute about evolution and faith, and this was the ideal way to get back into writing. Non-fiction is refreshing when you spend your life in make-believe worlds. It was good to stretch my mind into matters of faith and science from its usual resting place of nursery rhymes and nap schedules!
Getting back into fiction was harder. I wanted two short projects - flash fiction preferably - that had some element of structure and challenge to them. The part of writing I find hardest when short of time is idea-generation. I don't have the head space to be thinking "what if...?" all the time, so I don't think of new plots often. Structured competitions give me soemthing to work with - a frame to hang some ideas off!
With that in mind, I chose to enter a competition to re-tell a Bible story for modern adults, and to write a short story using dialogue only.
The first challenge was simple enough. Re-telling a tale is a good way to ease back into writing, as the plot has already been written for you! The second competition was harder. When the organisers asked for only dialogue, they meant it - even dialogue tags ("he said" etc.) were banned. The story I ended up with (an adaptation of a story I wrote years ago) wasn't great, but I enjoyed the challenge very much. Most importantly, when I finished it, I had completed three full pieces of writing - more than I've done for years!
In this last week I have launched myself back into my novel. I've already sorted out a major plot issue and am working on some more research so I can start planning Draft Two in earnest. Then all I've got to do is write the thing. Easy, right? Chloe the Writer is back!
What do you do to ease yourself back into writing when you've had some time away?