For me this has to be one of the most pleasurable writer breaks that I have covered on my blog. It ticks so many of my writer boxes.
If a Writer’s Flash Fiction Break works it can leave a writer feeling energised and creatively perky!
This kind of writer break can also help refill the creative well, which always seems to run dry whilst a writer is working on their novel.
There are several stages to this event:
- Draft Novel Exhaustion. You have been at the literary coal face for MONTHS! Your second draft has taken far longer than you expected and at times it has felt more like a wrestling match (you versus your draft novel) than a wonderful journey of creative discovery. You know far too much about your characters and after spending an unhealthy amount of time together you daydream about taking a little break from them. You can’t remember the last time you smiled, cracked a joke or wore your favourite knitted jumper with the words ‘Yay I am a writer! plastered across the front of it. As you sit on Twitter, groaning at all the cheerful writers tweeting about how they are #buzzing and #havingaliteraryorgasm over their draft novel, you wonder whether you are the only one suffering with literary exhaustion.
- Loved One Pressure. You are tired and your creative well is empty. A few hours ago your word count tailed off and you no longer have the energy to tell your rebellious character to stop doing their own thing. So, what you don’t need during this testing time is for a loved one to comment on how moody, sullen and gloomy you are! You know that you need to cheer up but, as you explain, its hard to do so when your 42k word second draft makes you feel like quitting writing and putting all your creative energies into hand painting eggshells, with watercress growing out of the top of them. Your loved one gives you an odd look and mumbles something about your painting and seed growing skills, which is not very helpful.
- Hope. Things reach breaking point after you stumble across a huge plot hole. You didn’t see it coming because you were too weary. As you are just about to press delete on your entire second draft, a little voice deep inside you whispers “write some flash fiction, it will sort you out!” Yes! You need a little break from your draft novel, your characters and a change of literary scene. A brand new story. The thought of writing something short and fresh gives you a little rush of creative excitement. In your head you fantasise about story word length; 1000 words feels too heavy, 100 feels too light but a 500 piece of flash fiction brings an instant smile to your face. Having a brief (500 word) but intense relationship with just one or two characters sends a lovely warm sensation shooting up your spine. They will not have the emotional baggage that your novel characters are carrying. There will be no labouring of the backstory with this piece, a little sprinkling will suffice. You have no idea what the new story will be about, you just know it will do things to you that your 42k word miserable second draft is not doing. The more you think about the fun you are going to have writing this 500 word gem the more your cheeks start to heat up with literary anticipation. Rising quickly from your chair, you disturb your loved one. They take their eye off the sport on TV and ask whether you are heading into the kitchen to make them a cup of tea? No – you are having a ‘Writer’s Flash Fiction’ break! They cast you a puzzled look, mutter something you don’t want to hear and go back to watching the sport on TV.
- The Writer’s Flash Fiction Break. You grab a notebook, pencil / pen and a strong coffee. To mix things up a bit you move away from your writing desk and go to a different part of the house or the garden. You sit down and open up your notebook. There is something magical about a blank page, a pencil and a limit of 500 words – especially after MONTHS of dreary novel-writing on a laptop! Ugh! For the Writer’s Flash Fiction Break to really work you have to free your creative mind. You have to give yourself freedom to write a piece of Flash Fiction from ANY genre. Go wild! Be adventurous! Oh my goodness the feeling of having no creative restraints is AMAZING! Just let go and write. Sit back and see what characters wander into your head. I recently let myself go on a Writer’s Flash Fiction Break and a couple of Victorian grave diggers entered my mind. Bizarre I know! You close your eyes and let a new story take shape. The thing with a good piece of Flash Fiction is that it can gush out of you, in what can only be described as a huge creative outpouring! You can’t write fast enough. At 498 words you put down your pencil, breathless and a bit sweaty. It’s finished and you feel ALIVE again! The creative well is filling back up at an astonishing rate.
- A New Dawn. After a Writer’s Flash Fiction Break your writing world looks a lot different. You feel energised, bubbly and there is a hint of a smile on your face. It has made you feel like a writer again and given you that wonderful feeling of being able to create and FINISH something. We often lose this when writing a novel. Before you return to your writing desk and to your draft novel, you nip upstairs and grab your knitted writer jumper. As you bound into the room, wearing your ‘Yay I am a writer!’ jumper and a huge smile, your loved one’s jaw drops. They ask you what has led to your sudden change in personality and you will say “Flash Fiction – it always gets me going!” Whilst they shake their head in disbelief and turn back to the sport on TV (sigh!) you return to your novel with a new sense of vigour and energy.
So, if you are suffering from draft novel exhaustion take a Writer’s Flash Fiction Break!
Imagine all the literary fun you could have with a mouth-watering 500 word piece of Flash Fiction!
For noting: this type of Writer Break comes with a few warnings:
- Flash Fiction can lead to other things. These short and snappy pieces can be quite demanding once written and can urge you to turn them into a novella or even a novel. So watch out!
- Don’t let Flash Fiction distract you from your main project. Once it’s written out make sure you put it away to rest. Using flash fiction as a form of procrastination is a literary road I have been down readers! Stay strong with it.
- Once you have finished it, ask those new characters to leave your mind. Those pesky Victorian grave diggers of mine are loitering and are causing unrest inside my head.
I do hope Santa gets me a knitted writer jumper!
Have a fabulous day!