I haven’t written a new story for ages.
Even last month’s prompt from our writing group was answered with a rejigged story I penned years ago.
My excuses to myself have been multiple. . . dogs to train, fish ponds to de-sludge, nettles to nuke, anthologies to edit, roses to dead-head, meals to prepare, emails to answer, blog posts to read. . .
But when offered an opportunity or alerted to a competition, my first, unaknowledged, thought has been, ‘Can I be bothered?’
It was guilt at my inactivity on a Facebook group where I once was active, that pushed me last week to contribute to two of their ongoing monthly challenges. The blessing with these is that they are brief and there is no pressure for them to shine. It’s all for fun.
The group, if you’re interested, is the Authors of the Flash Fiction Writing Challenges (AOFFWC) and it is made up of anyone who has contributed to one of Chris Fielden’s flash fiction writing challenges. (These are published as anthologies when they reach the required number of contributions, and the proceeds go to selected charities.)
Members of the AOFFWC Facebook group are fingered to pose each other challenges each month – no prizes. Just for the practice. Responses can be as brief as you like – the shorter, the better. (Mine rarely end up as short as I intend.)
I decided it had been too long since I contributed, so I sat down to meet a couple of this month’s challenges. Now it’s done, I feel galvanised to write more.
Advice often trotted out by writing gurus is that the best strategy to beat writer’s block is to start writing. I never doubted it (so many advisors can’t all be wrong) but when falling on ears that don’t want to hear, the seeds of commonsense rarely take root.
But I already knew that the best way to tackle inactivity is to do something.
When I was living alone, it was tempting to go home every evening and settle on the sofa to watch TV or ‘chat’ online. Weekends were for chilling out after the working week. It wasn’t long before I realised I was vegetating.
Even though vegetating remained an attractive option, I dragged myself from the house, joining a choir, a social club, and Scottish Coutry Dancing (not for the exercise – although I needed that too – but for the mental challenge. I had to concentrate in a new way on what was coming next if I wasn’t to bring the whole set careering into each other).
Unexpectedly, my recent rekindling of the imagination has galvanised me in other ways than writing. I feel more positive about the fish pond and the weeding (although the housework still has a way to go to arouse my enthusiasm. Maybe when winter comes.)
It is a nettle to be grasped, that the only way to get something started is to get started.