I constantly peruse the blogs and internet sites for various writing exercises. Writing prompts haven’t helped me much in the past. After all, I can look around my room and find plenty of prompts, from the Nutcrackers on my mantle to the college graduation gift my ex-wife gave me before we were married.
Recently, I began working with a book called “Fast Fiction, Creating Fiction in Five Minutes” by Roberta Allen. This short book taught me that when employed properly the prompt can allow one to reach deeper into the sub-conscious. The theory, and it seems to work, is that if given a prompt and five minutes to write a complete short, there is no time to consciously think of a story. Thus, it flows from within.
In this book, it’s recommended to carry out six five minute prompts in a row. After 30 minutes, you have six shorts. With thirty minutes a day you could theoretically have forty-two first draft shorts in a week. Granted, many or most of them may not be stories that one wants to expand on. Eventually though, one of the stories strikes a chord and connects and you want to finish it.
This cute little book also gives a lot of tips on writing a good short story so when you do revise your story you have plenty of tools to work with. The key is to not revise while writing the five minute story. Just let the nonsense, misspellings, bad grammar, and whatever else shows up flow for five minutes.
It has an interesting way of uncovering personal hang ups that may prevent you from reaching your full potential for creativity in writing. At least, it did for me. Try it and you’re sure to learn something about yourself. I’d love to hear what you think about the exercises.