I’ve been working on a short story for the past week. Granted, it has not been at the top of my priority list (things like “dinner” and “sleep” have been higher up), but I told myself* that I would write one sentence minimum a day. Usually, I start with one sentence, and then before I know it I have two, and then a paragraph, and then sometimes pages.
Lately, it’s been one sentence. A day.
It’s a strange thing to watch a story evolve so slowly. It’s almost like it’s in slow motion, or Wachowski brother Bullet Time. It seems ridiculous — one sentence? How is this progress?
But it is.
I had an image in my head that started the story, but nothing else.** No protagonist, antagonist, conflict. You know — the things you need for a story. In the past, I either knew them from the get go, or they came about as I wrote. This time, as much as I tried to force it***, the pieces wouldn’t come together.
So one sentence a day.
For some reason, the slow pace has given my mind space to ponder the story, and each sentence is one step closer to fulfilling that story. What story? I have no idea. But it’s starting to get interesting.
With just five sentences in four days. James Joyce would be so proud.****
I guess I am, too. I worried that I had screwed up, that I was doing this whole writing thing wrong (AGAIN!), that my creativity was shot, and that it was All Over. (Cue the Drama Queen scene chewing.)
Then again, maybe not. Maybe by not forcing it, by giving it some space to breathe, maybe that was what was needed to open up, to relax and find the story.
All of this in less than five minutes a day. Scribbling a line as I waited for a webpage to load, or between composing emails, or before running off to the bathroom (talk about deadlines!).
Find the margins of your life, and write that one sentence, draw that one line, compose that one hook. The results may not come fast, but it’s still more than you had. You’ll be closer to the finished piece, and maybe inspiration will find you as you give your art the space to breathe.
* Well, vowed, actually, since I discovered that I start going a little crazy if I don’t write fiction every day, even the tiniest bit.
**I had a title, courtesy of a flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig, and then eventually an image.
***By “force it” I mean sit with an open notebook and brainstorm. By “brainstorm” I mean beat my Muse with a writing stick yelling, “Tell me what to do with this story or the writer gets it!” Erm.
****Most likely, James Joyce would have his hat blown back by my writing speed.