I made it to the 3rd round in the NYC Midnight flash fiction contest! Woot.
For the third round, I got 1,000 words to write a horror story set in a private school, and I had to mention a mouse. I almost gave up on this one. I wrote and then deleted and then rewrote the first 400 words three times, each time with a totally different spin on the story. I almost gave up when I only had eight hours left and was staring at a blank page, but I was still feeling regret for dropping out last year after I got a disappointing score on my 1st round Romance story, so I pushed myself to finish.
And I'm so happy I did! I am not all that concerned with how 'good' or 'bad' my story is- my true victory is that I learned a valuable lesson about my own writing process: I wasn't having trouble writing this story because I lacked ideas. I actually knew exactly what story I wanted to tell. I had that familiar flash I always get when an entire story just POPS into my head all at once. The best way to describe how quickly and completely I get the idea for my stories is by quoting my favorite actor in my favorite movie: "Whoa, I know kung foo!"
Awesome and useful right? The problem is that even though I know exactly what I want to say, when I sit down at the keyboard I get jammed up. It's like 3 people trying to get through the same doorway all at once. All of those ideas pushing to get out of my head and onto the screen paralyse my fingers (sidenote: just found out I can spell paralyse w/o spellcheck!!!) and I just freeze up.
It's the reason I have so many great story ideas that ultimately sit in intro paragraph purgatory.
My point is, I realized I was trying to intro myself into my main idea instead of writing the story I had already seen in my mind. Since I only have 1,000 in these flash fiction contests there's no room for backstory or intros. I have to get right to the inciting incident. Writing flash is like playwriting in that way. A live theatre audience doesn't want to sit there in scene one and watch the butler make the cucumber sandwiches- they want to open at the tea party (sandwiches already made) and get right to the bit about how he's not really Ernest. (Or something like that...)
I think a technique that could be useful for me to try is dictation. I will close my eyes and just say out loud (to my dictation app) what I'm seeing in the story. I suspect it will allow me to get more written, and will also allow my writing to be more visually interesting for the reader, since it will be my description of my mind's eye.
Val Von Deep... on just blurting out the story I hear in my head.