So, now that I’ve finished my flash fiction challenge and had a week off for my brain to recover, what do I think I’ve learnt / gained from this experience?
Well, firstly I’ve learnt that it’s a bad idea to schedule a 35 day writing challenge when the workload of your full-time job is about to triple. This is not a good plan guys, I don’t recommend it. Stress and writing are not a good mix, although I am proud that I still managed to get the challenge done.
Secondly I’ve learnt that when I have a headache but make myself write anyway, I come up with stories about the end of the world. I think this might be my body hinting at me to work less hard…
Thirdly – and most importantly – I’ve learnt that my writing brain is brilliant. Every day of those 35 days, the bit of my mind that’s in charge of ideas produced something vaguely clever or funny or silly that actually seemed to work as a story, and wasn’t just utter rubbish! And it did this without me having to weep into the keyboard or spend hours staring in blurry-eyed panic at a blank screen.
An occasionally blunt friend of mine said that when she heard what I was trying to do – write a flash fiction every day – she presumed that I would be writing nonsensical crap, but when she checked out this blog, she was surprised that I seemed to be producing good stuff. So that is what I’ve learnt; that I can trust my writing brain to deliver.
This is important, because we all know that fear of the blank page, of not being able to write, of not being able to produce something good enough to meet a deadline, looms over most if not all writers. Therefore, I would recommend the flash fiction challenge to anyone who gets stuck (call it writers block if you like); anyone who writes their first sentence ten times and keeps deleting it or crossing it out.
Because flash fiction is short enough to be achievable without expending masses of effort. It’s short enough to bother finishing, even if you don’t think it’s going to work. And if it doesn’t work, you can just shrug and try again the next day, because you’ll only have spent minutes on it. But if it does work, you get almost instant gratification – you’ve finished something and it’s good!
Flash fiction feels like an experiment, and one of the things I enjoyed most about my challenge was allowing my fingers to type sentences that I didn’t expect them to, and then going with that and seeing what happened to the story. When I went back to my regular writing, I found that my fingers were still typing their own sentences, and that I didn’t get stuck.
So I challenge you, readers, to write some flash fiction of your own. Maybe for a week, maybe for a month, but however long you choose to write for, please let me know how you get on. 🙂
Oh, and P.S.; I’m now looking for things to do with my flash fictions, but a lot of magazines and competitions won’t take them as they’ve already been published on this blog. Does anyone have any ideas about where I can send them? Thank you.