The 2016 Writing Challenge

by Victoria Madden

My New Year’s Resolution was to write book reviews, after having read so many on other blogs, but when my first attempt took several months to complete and I couldn’t get going with subsequent ones, I realised I needed something to break the impasse. Finding my old notebook of writing exercises from Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones has inspired me to try these again; and in the spirit of other bloggers that set themselves reading challenges to help get them out of their comfort zone, I’ve decided to set myself a Writing Challenge.

So here it is – each week I’ll be posting a writing exercise on this blog, with the results of the previous one, in an attempt to keep myself up to the mark; and also to encourage any other readers with literary leanings to do likewise themselves.

I’ve had great fun reading this pastiche of Wodehouse which follows all Goldberg’s rules: resist editing too much; recognise, but don’t get hung up on, any shortcomings and write through them; and, most of all, enjoy the writing process. It’s made me realise that it’s rare for writers to produce in intellectual isolation and that we all need to spark off someone, and also that, despite being scattered all over the country (the world!) social media can provide us with our own little version of Café de Flore. So I’m going to be sharing all my writing exercises, whether they work or not, in the hope of inspiring others to get on with their own writing, and to those reading my attempts who don’t think much of them, I say ‘Go away and do better!’.

So ‘for viewers who want to try this at home’ as they used to say on Blue Peter in my youth, here is:

Writing Exercise No. 1

Take an emotion as your story title and, keeping it in mind but without thinking too much about it, write a story that illustrates or exemplifies the emotion. Write as much in each session as you can – preferably do it in one session – and DO NOT EDIT or try to re-arrange the sentences at all until you feel you have reached the end of what you can say about it. Leave the pages for a few days to get some distance and then go back and use it as the basis for a story.

(I’ve decided in advance that I won’t be posting links to any one else’s attempts at these exercises, so please don’t try and comment with these included.)