New creative project with too much choice?
When you have a blank sheet of paper in front of you, it can be surprisingly difficult to get started on a new project. Whether it’s writing, drawing or painting, or even an English essay or first business report, it’s the fear of messing up or going in the wrong direction that can stop you.
For me, it’s like trying to start a conversation where you need to discuss something difficult, painful or embarrassing. You don’t want to start with the wrong words that then set the wrong tone and so you hesitate, and as you hesitate your worries grow, and that leads into further hesitation!
Helping my partner
My partner Kali wants to start creative story writing and she has been struggling to start. What topic? Which audience? What style?
She has practiced reflective writing to get ‘warmed up’ and made lots of notes, but the words or titles for her first story have managed to elude her. Indeed, her hesitation was so great I feared she would abandon her creative writing without ever starting.
I believe it is not good for your soul to abandon dreams without first giving them a serious go.
Inspiration from a radio station
So I am thinking, how can you start story-writing without simply ‘jumping in’?
And then I remembered an interesting competition from the 1980s when I lived in London and used to listen to Capital Radio. Every year they had a creative writing competition, with a difference. A story of only 50 words, and it had to have a beginning, a middle and an end!
Exercise – 50 Word Story
This is a great warm-up exercise, it’s a small challenge so it feels manageable rather than overwhelming. This is the writing version of gentle muscle-stretching and mental psyching up.
And if you believe in something you should practice what you preach, so I have had a go. And what about my partner Kali? Well, her writer’s block is now unblocked, at least for now. She wrote 7 stories within a couple of days, and she’s now working on several longer ones.
Below are my first efforts. Stories of only 50 words, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Why don’t you give it a try?
Story #1 – FOG
Ding-dong! A small elderly woman answers the door.
“I’ve forgotten my keys,” says Mr Patel.
“Sir, you are a stranger. You don’t live here.”
“But I was here one minute ago…”
“I will call the police!”
“They’ve been and gone already. I’m your husband, remember?”
Story #2 – WINDRUSH
Excitement filled the air on our voyage across the Atlantic to the motherland.
I left Kingston in May and arrived Tilbury Docks 22 June. My family sold three cows so I could have a better life.
Did I make a mistake? “No dogs, no Irish, no blacks,” the notice said.
I have Google-checked to see if the 50 Word Story idea is still going strong. And guess what, it is! The best resources I could find are these –