creativity

Day By Day

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

day by day by Eva

Day By Day by Eva

This session is about routine. It’s about the boring hard work of daily routine, or about the interesting, the amazing, the pleasurable things that you manage to fit into your day. Or both.

Do you have a daily routine? If every day is different for you, you can still try this session. Just average things out or use yesterday as an example or make things up, imagine the daily routine of another person. It doesn’t matter.

Activity

Copy the diagram below into your notebook. At The Safe House, we love squared notebooks, it doesn’t really matter the size. You should use any type or size you like. You could use a cereal packet rectangle, as described in other sessions from The Safe House.

Find a comfortable place to sit with a bit of space to spread your kit out. Complete the diagram in any way you choose with regard to your day, or that of your chosen character.

Stimulus

The ‘stimulus’ is the diagram below. You can complete it in any way you choose. Use clouds, arrows, different coloured pens, a ruler! Note significant parts of your day on the diagram – Sleeping, dreaming, eating, travelling, etc.

Obviously, if you have chosen to use another person or character, you should complete the diagram for that person.

The diagram below:

The Diagram Below

Guide

This is an exercise in thinking carefully about when things happen. It is also good practice for note taking and then using notes for creativity.

You can use the information you note on the diagram to construct a piece of narrative writing.

Here are a few things you could do with the diagram, if you complete it with enough detail:

  • Write sentences about the day in the third person.
  • If you choose to complete the diagram with information about another person’s routine, write sentences about the day in the first person.
  • Focus on a particular part of the day, break it down even further and write in more detail about the routine of that part of the day.
  • Use past tenses, as if the routine has now changed.
  • You could begin to think about describing feelings about the routine as well.
  • Describe the day as a one-off day, as if it happened yesterday or as if it happened one day last week.
  • Describe the day as a dream for the future.

Word count and process

You could probably fit your day into 250 words, if you really get brutal and edit out a lot of stuff. We would say that between 250 and 500 words is a pretty good target word count for this session.

  • Open up a clean page of your notebook, get together a good selection of pens, pencils, felt pens, a ruler and any other kit you would like to use.
  • Make a version of the diagram and fill it in. You should think about spending about 15 minutes on this. Of course, it depends on how long it takes you to make the base diagram, and how busy your day is, I suppose. But we think about 15 minutes is good.
  • Use the completed diagram to write 250 – 500 words to describe the activities, etc. noted on the diagram. First draft should be pretty much non-stop and take not more than 15 minutes. You’ve got good notes so you don’t have to think too much about what to write. We think it’s a good idea to use your plan when you write like this, but we know not everybody actually does it that way! If you don’t usually use your plan when you write, you could try it for this session. You never know…
  • When you have done this, spend time proof-reading for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it. This should probably take about 15 minutes but it really does depend on your accuracy in the first draft and your ability to spot things that need changing.

nb Look for other Safe House Sessions for ways to proof-read and edit your writing.

If you do all of this in one go, you will have been creating and writing for about 45 minutes in total.

This is the same time span as a half in a football match. You will probably be knackered, if you do it non-stop!

Of course, this isn’t football, this is writing. It’s harder. So, we think you should take breaks if you need them. It’s up to you, though.

Anyway, when you’ve done it, leave it for at least half an hour and then come back and edit it one more time.

What next?

Updike on HabitIf you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

Thanks to Eva for the diagrams.

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2. A Walk In The Park

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

struggle to sketch the flow

OK, so this session is all about going inside your mind. The stimulus will be a few simple prompts which may, or may not, be linked. You then go inside your head and imagine the scenario. The aim is to try and get a rhythm going and to get words down. For this reason, you should try to be aware of time as much as you can.

Later, you could look at other Flash Fiction Writing Sessions for ways in which you could put your writing from these prompts together to work on a piece of narrative writing.

We are talking about descriptive writing here so you have to create lots of images of random things like size, physical appearance, colour, texture, smell (!).  Sometimes you might think about describing emotions as well.

If you’re going to write in the third person, you’ll have to use your imagination and think about how your character will perceive the surroundings.

Maybe you could refer to the Flash Fiction Writing Session, Elsie Ethel Court, and describe your surroundings from the point of view of the person you wrote about for this session. You  could also try and use the prompts to help you to imagine how Elsie would have perceived the scenario(s).

Activity

Write either notes or full sentences in response to 8 short prompts.

nb: You need to decide whether your character is you or somebody else before you start writing your responses to the prompts!

Stimulus

  1. You are in a park. Describe the park.
  2. You are standing on a path in the park. Describe the path.
  3. You walk along the path. You see animals. Describe the animals. Do they notice you?
  4. You continue along the path and you see, on the floor, a key. Describe the key. Do you pick the key up and take it with you or do you leave the key where it is?
  5. Either way, you continue walking along the path. You come across an obstacle. Something is in your way on the path. What is it? Describe the obstacle. Is it easy or difficult to get past?
  6. Somehow, maybe easily, maybe with great difficulty, you get around or under, or over or through the obstacle and you continue along the path. Somewhere in sight, there is water. Describe the water.
  7. You continue along the path and, in the distance, you see a building. Maybe a house, but not necessarily a house. It’s a building. Describe the building.
  8. You walk along the path to the building. You go inside and sit down. Describe the scene.

Guide

Like I said, this is about using your imagination, but it’s a good idea to try and harness your imagination just enough so that you can get it down. That means you need a decent place to sit where you can produce words.

Then, you need to have some kind of way of measuring time because there are a total of 8 prompts and you could easily get a bit disoriented, if you don’t have some kind of structure to the task you are about to engage in.

Think about adjectives, obviously, colours, of course, but also about the senses. Although you probably shouldn’t get too obsessed with what everything smells like! Unless … Well, you need to not get too bogged down. Keep your mind moving and get words down as quickly as you can.

Don’t worry too much about telling a story.

Other Flash Fiction Writing Sessions can help you make what you create here fit into a narrative. Now is the time for sights, sounds and all the rest. Straight out of your head and into written words.

Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Keep to the time scale described below as much as you can so that things stay quite spontaneous.
  • If you save what you write, you can edit and change stuff easily.
  • If you want to go more slowly, you can adjust the times, of course.
  • You could even get someone you know who can get words down quickly to do the note taking for you and then you can write it up in your own time later. ; )

nb: Look for other Safe House Sessions for ways to proof read and edit your writing.

Word count and process

Don’t worry about word count, but for this session the process should take you about 20 minutes once you’re settled and ready to start.

Have 2 minutes thinking and writing time for each prompt. That makes 16 minutes in total. You could quite easily spend longer, I guess. Or less, I suppose. But this would be my recommendation.

If you give yourself 20 seconds to think before you write anything for each prompt,that would make another 1 minute and 40 seconds. If you keep going that is just under 20 minutes creating and writing time.

Spend another couple of minutes reading what you’ve written and making sure you will be able to understand it later.

Put the pen down. Sit back. Relax. Phew!

What next?

If you feel confident, you can take your notes and you can spend time to put them together into a narrative. Here you need to think about time and tense in order to construct your sentences so that they have proper meaning for your reader. Narratives are often constructed in the past tense. But:

‘Time is the Avenger. Never the Stranger.’

So concentrate when you’re at it and read your stuff loads while you’re writing it.

Look for other  Safe House Sessions for ways to work with time.

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!