Since finishing University a few weeks ago (and while waiting for Graduation in just over a week’s time), I have been trying to do a number of things to keep myself productive and busy. I have been looking for work, trying to come up with a career plan, writing weekly blog posts, coming up with ideas for stories and board games, reading when I can, playing games, baking cakes, volunteering at Barnardo’s and at The Dukes play in the park again. One thing though that I have wanted to continue since finishing, I have found rather hard, and that is writing stories. I like writing stories, I like all kinds of writing, and when I am in the zone, I just can’t stop. Starting is an entirely different matter however.
I have kept up with my blog writing, and right now am writing a series of film reviews to be shown in a few weeks’ time, but writing large pieces of work is proving to be rather difficult. Writing big projects at University (in hindsight) was easier, as I was motivated to get the work done as best as I could, but now I need to find new motivation and am finding it hard. I am constantly coming up with ideas for projects, either it be stories, blog posts or board games, but getting round to actually doing them is what I am struggling with. Writing short stories shouldn’t necessarily be too much of a problem as they are small, quick stories to write, however, starting them is as difficult as any other project. Ideas for them are hard as they need to be concise, small, and not necessarily involve big incidents, or big things happening……….which is kind of what I like. Back in May I even came up with a plan to write at least one short story a month, but in June I (technically) did not write one.
I say technically; basically, last month I entered Preston’s first Short Story Slam. A writing/performing contest where writers write short stories to then read out. Writer’s need to write 3 stories of no more than 200 words that can be read in 4 minutes or less. It’s a head to head sort of thing (as far as I understand it) and I need to write 3 short stories for it. A week ago I wrote one story for it, I still have another 2 to write (at time of writing) but coming up with ideas for such a small word count I am finding tough, and even when I do have an idea, simply sitting down behind my laptop to write it is proving tricky. It was only when I had a voice going through my head telling me to write the first story that I finally did it (The Slam is at the end of July, so I still have some time). Even when it isn’t that though, writing in general (when it is not for my blog) I am finding tough. I can develop ideas quite nicely, (I prefer to do it in my head where I can visualise it, while find that writing it down can usually mean I end up leaving and forgetting about it), but that’s still not writing it.
In an attempt to cure what I think is writer’s block; I have started doing little exercises to get me writing again. While my mind wanders onto other ideas of approaching it, for now, this one is working. I have had Rory’s Story Cubes for over a year now. First I got a small expansion in the form of Rory’s Story Cubes: Prehistoria, but discovered using them rather hard, so I bought a copy of the base set, and was able to get going with them. To begin with I just used them as a little game to play with friends and at the Writer’s Society at University. Basically, the base set is a box of 9 dice, with each side on all the dice being a different image (54 images in total). You roll them, and then use the 9 images to make a story. It has to start with “Once Upon A Time” and can either be done as one continuous story as a group, or several stories. There are other versions of the base set and several expansions, all of which can be mixed and matched to create a diverse range of stories. Recently, I decided to use them to help me write some short stories. I use them in the same way as you normally would play with them; roll them and look at the pictures rolled (sometimes re-rolling if I can’t think of anything). Instead of telling the story to someone though, I would instead write my story in a Word Document.
I have been taking the pictures of the images I have rolled, considering possibly putting my stories online at a later date (with a photo of the dice to show what images I have to work with). I actually rather enjoy coming up with stories this way; they can be about anything and there are no restrictions as to the length of the story, nor the genre it is in. It really does help me to get back into writing short stories. While I have not done one for about a week (due to being busy with my current weekly schedule), I look forward to writing another one, and hopefully with time, be able to write some without assistance, possibly even bigger ones. Right now though, I have a Short Story Slam to enter.