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?

4 thoughts on “Back in the Habit

  1. Pingback: Back in the Habit #3 : Aurelia | Darcy Isla as you find her

  2. Pingback: Back in the Habit #4 : Knocking | Darcy Isla as you find her

  3. Pingback: Back in the Habit #5 : The International Flat Earth Society | Darcy Isla as you find her

  4. Pingback: Back in the Habit #2 : Six Minutes Old | Darcy Isla as you find her

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