Do you have a scene in your head that you replay over and over? Most people have stories on the brain. Some of those stories are witty things we wish we’d told the rude person on the bus, and sometimes they are fantastical stories about dragons and knights. Whatever the story in your head is, write it down.
Mike and I talked about this last week when we were reviewing his post on “Little Stories.” Originally, he just said to encourage the little stories and let them go. I told him that it would be better to suggest they write them down, even if they’re never going to “go anywhere.”
Why do that? Why not save the writing for the big “important” stories? Sometimes, your brain gets stuck on something. A scene, a chapter, a moment, a piece of dialogue, and it recycles it over and over.
Often, once you’ve written it down, your brain frees up to say “Okay, what’s next?”
This is where keeping a journal can come in handy. I have a 750words account that I’ve been writing in daily for some months now, and it’s full of little stories. Things I wish I could say to rude people, better ways to have explained a complicated situation, fictional moments with fictional characters that aren’t stories so much as a slice of life only interesting to me, and a lot more. Once I’ve written these things down, they are free. They exist outside of my brain, even if no one ever sees them. My brain says, “Okay, what’s next?”
How many people say, “Oh, I’ve got this story that’s been in my head for years. Maybe someday I’ll write it down.” Oftentimes, those stories are a small collection of scenes, but they keep replaying over and over, and feel like a huge, completed opus.
Start writing them down. Write down all of the complete and incomplete moments. Figure out what happens before and after that moment. Let your brain refill with another story. Don’t be afraid of “wasting time” or that you can only write the words that you someday are going to show to others. Don’t be afraid that if you write it down, nothing else will come—something will, even if not right away. Every word you write is practice, and every amount of practice moves you forward–maybe as you get better in prose, or you simply move out some stale thoughts from your brain so fresh new ones get in.
So try it out for a while–in a paper journal or an online journal or wherever you prefer. Write down those little stories in your head–those little snippets and moments and slices of life, and see what comes next.