Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shaking It Up with Short Stories

Whenever I hit a wall on my big projects, THE NOVELS (they demand to be all in capitals), I find myself clearing my palate with a project of a more manageable scope. With my third graders, we take brain and body breaks throughout the day. Maybe this is my creative brain's version of the same thing. After all, that part of my brain doesn't like to just turn off. It never goes away (thank goodness). But sometimes, it needs a change of pace.

When I finished what I foolishly thought was the final draft of Novel #2, I was fried. But I wanted to keep up my writing routine. Lucky for me, my husband Sam needed a script for an audio theater project. A complete change of writing muscles - different genre, a deadline, a lighter topic, a veritable sorbet for my brain.

This week, in the throes of parent-teacher conferences at school, I slammed smack into a tangle of structural uncertainties and missing backstory on my revisions of Novel #1 (which I had also, foolishly, thought was finished). But, miraculously, instead of bemoaning my inability to get any writing done, my brain started fiddling with an old short story idea. Next thing I know, I'm playing with point of view and reviving this old piece into something with some real legs on it.

In fact, I have a lot of short stories that came about in much the same way. I wanted to keep my writing going, but I needed to catch my breath on the big stuff.

The moral of the blog? When you're writing brain gets tired, maybe it just needs a change of pace. Try a new genre. Try something of a more manageable size. Play a little!

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