Monday, October 01, 2007

Inspiration is other people

I belong to two amazing online writing groups: the WriteWords Flash Fiction Group and the Fiction Workhouse , and both those groups are incredibly supportive and inspiring places to be.

The WW Flash group has a weekly Challenge, which one group member "wins" and then they set the challenge for the following week. And in the Fiction Workhouse we are now in the middle of something quite wonderful called a Blastette. This is a period of time during which we all write as many flash stories (under 500 words or so, no set rules) as we can inspired by 24 sets of prompts that one member of the group has compiled. This is the third Blastette that has happened since the FW was set up 9 months or so ago, and it is just an astonishing experience. There are 20 of us involved, on several continents, but the energy is palpable. Whenever someone writes a story, they immediately post it up on the site, anonymously, and as well as writing as much as we can, we try and give brief comments on other people's stories.

What this has taught me is that the more you write, the more you write. Writing is truly a muscle that will atrophy if under-used, but when kept healthy and given a good workout, is infinitely flexible. During the Blastette, there isn't time to think, there isn't time to listen to that Censor who resides in your head. You just let go, and write. And because you're not investing your all in just one Story, you don't care so much if maybe several flashes don't "work" for you. Something magical will happen in there somwhere, even if it is just a line or a character that you then do something with at a later date.

What working in both these groups shows me too is the power of taking inspiration from a prompt. I did, to my surprise, once have a conversation with someone about prompts who said "But isn't that cheating? Shouldn't you come up with the ideas on your own?" Does anyone come up with an unprompted idea for anything? We don't live in a vacuum, we don't just lie on our beds and contemplate the ceiling waiting for inspiration to strike. Prompts are all around us, and these exercises are just honing this, giving it some focus, encouraging it. No two people will ever write the same story from the same prompt. That is what is beautiful. The prompts may be the same, but we aren't. And it is wonderful to see the directions people go in.

This Blastette we are in right now is still ongoing (it's actually a 48-hour one, and we each drop in when we can), so I'd better wind this up and go and write more. I just wanted to share a little of the energy, and to thank my groups. Inspiration is everywhere.

1 comment:

slippingthroughtheworld said...

i totally agree tania. i think that flash writing is the most inspirational and magical experience a writer can have...and what a high, from a tiny piece of writing. and a lot to be learned from how other people take on the same prompt...magical realism.