Learning my craft: 15 minute story writing

If you can find a writing group, I highly recommend it.

So they say that writing is a craft, and like any craft, it takes time to get good. You need to practice and learn new skills and techniques. Find out your strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot of ways to do this for writing, according to the internet. But I recently remembered something I tried a few years ago, and decided to give it another try.

A few years ago , I joined a writing group. Once a month, they had an event where everyone would gather at a bar. We’d talk, we’d drink, but most importantly, we would spend time impromptu writing. The host would give us a prompt, we’d have a few minutes to come up with a story, then we’d break into smaller groups and read our stories to the others. They would then come up with some thoughts, creative critiques, and other helpful stuff. Everyone had the same prompt, so it was always interesting to hear the different stories people would come up with.

Another event they had was a collaboration with an out museum. We were asked to find a painting that sparked a story within us. we then wrote the story, and then the group held a ‘gallery show’ with our writings next to the paintings. It was all very exciting and made me feel very glamorous.

So, I decided to practice writing by combining these two ideas. Take a random picture, give myself 15 minutes to write whatever I want, and then post it for all you lovely people. Sometimes they may be good, maybe not. But it’s not really about the story. It’s about challenging myself. Pushing me out of my comfort zone and just delighting in spending a few moments of my hectic life pursuing my passion.

I’ve already done the first one which I titled ” The Ice Dragon”. I was shocked at how hard but fun the exercise was. At first, I had a really hard time. I had to shut out all other noise. I needed to put myself in the photo. What was I seery? Smelling? Hearing? What am I feeling? But once an idea started forming, it was hard to stop when the 15 minutes were up.

The photo that inspired my first impromptu story

It’s hard to write a story in 15 minutes. Crafting a beginning, middle, and end. Adding enough detail to bring the reader into the story, help them visualize and connect to the characters, but not bossing it down with too many details. You don’t want to introduce a ton of rabbit trails that go nowhere.

But that’s the point of practice. If all you needed to be a great writer was just a keyboard or a pen, everyone would do it. But it’s not. It’s something that has to grow. Anyone can pursue their dream of writing. But you have to experience the journey. The pieces that blast off and resonate with your readers. The ones you thought would, but then completely bomb. Learning what interests you. Trying new genres. Learning how to research. Figure out how to build and convey your characters. Understanding who you are as a writer.

So, I’m going to keep practicing and posting my stories for people to enjoy. Because every word I write takes me one step further along my path.

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