Back in the Habit #2 : Six Minutes Old

Image from via Google Images

Image from via Google Images

Six-minute-old steam rose between their faces, their keen noses having drifted towards the blue glass displaying the stairwell beyond. The entrance into their lives that She would make, aided by the hand of a professional. They stared through the improbable art that they had once imagined just to have something to say to each other, in equally exciting, but less anxious times. Stern men and peacocks were purely obstacles to them now, the warps in the glass as frustrating as raindrops on glasses when you’re trying to ride a bike on a busy road.

They fiddled nervously and found each other’s fingers, danced between glimpses, first of comfort in each other’s eyes, then of worry at the expectant looks from the waiting staff. It was nearly closing time.

They flinched like flighty dogs at every shift of light, imagining at once both Her, and disappointing nothing. Plates were tidied away from their table, saucers and spoons slipped away without their ceremonious attention. This was a point in time too important for the tiniest of social niceties. The waitress didn’t need their smiles as much as they needed to be looking when She arrived.

She would bring with her: confirmation, completion. She was the answer to all their problems, and indeed all the problems belonging to the world at large.

She was but six minutes old and already the saviour of the universe.


Written in response to the keyword ‘adoption’, suggested in The Writer’s Block.

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Back in the Habit

‘Back in the Habit’, a new mini-series – watch this space for the next post.

It’s been a while since I was in the habit of producing new writing each week for open mic nights. I’ve been trying to jump-start that (the writing, and soon also the open mics) back into action recently with a good friend, meeting weekly to play tourist in the local cafés and try our hands at various creative writing tasks, to develop our skills and maintain a level of regularity and productivity. (This sounds a bit scientific – in fact, it’s a little bit more of what I love coming back into my life on a regular basis, keeping my happy and sane.) We’re mainly writing flash fiction at the moment, which is reigniting my excitement for new ideas, and I hope it will also lead to me being able to tackle bigger pieces of writing in the future. (I am truly terrible at planning and editing, living more like the latent-learning monkey, awaiting divine inspiration.)

I’ve learned a few things about my writing habits, which is always useful; for creative writing, I usually prefer to be sitting with quiet company who is doing the same thing. I am a bit competitive, and also in the habit of working in the presence of someone else, since a university housemate introduced the (at the time, seemingly insane) idea of working individually but in the same room. Now, it’s a comfort. I like to get out of the house to concentrate and not be able to crawl back into bed, but when I do write at home, I must be sat at my desk in its little alcove in the dining room. The house must be quiet and I prefer to write in the morning, usually starting around 8am. (Often-times I have provided early morning scares for my housemates, who wander into the kitchen, to which my writing hole is sort of attached but not immediately obvious.) My glasses, which I should be wearing at my computer, need to be doing their own thing somewhere else. We have a relaxed relationship.

I’ll be posting some of the bits and pieces that I get done in these sessions here to reconnect with this blog, while I’m redefining what its purpose is for me. Please do let me know your thoughts – it’s very gratifying to have people read your creative stuff and tell you what it brought to them. Of course, hearing what does or doesn’t work is really helpful, but if any of it leads you down trains of thought of your own, I’d love to hear them too. :) Throwing your creativity out into the world is weird, and getting any kind of response is pretty much amazing.

A few of the writing tasks we’ve been trying are as follows:

  • Free writing based on random keywords
  • 330 word stories based on photos we have taken
  • Writing from the perspective of, or about, a member of a specific organisation, e.g. The International Flat Earth Society
  • Revisiting old diary entries and rewriting them from a new perspective, as if it were fiction, instating new characters, and a new voice and tone. I intend to try this out with a few old texts, and perhaps rewrite them a few times, producing various different creative documents of one moment.

And a few I look forward to trying:

  • All the challenges on Chuck Wendig’s blog
  • Rolling dice to assemble a title, and going from there  – actually another one of Chuck’s, that I found on
  • Writing fake historical plaques like one we saw in Edinburgh this August – apparently this is a whole movement!

For the first one I’ll be posting, I owe thanks to this awesome birthday present from a friend. Which, incidentally, I would recommend to the friends of any writer when it comes to present-buying occasions. Good choice, amigo!

What writing exercises does everyone else use? Do you work best in a specific environment? How often do you write?