I’ve hooked up with the folks at Liberty Hall in an effort to tune up my fiction writing and take it to the next level: publication. Liberty Hall provides a nice “workshop” environment where I can get a lot of practice writing, polishing, and critiquing. At the same time, my work gets critiqued by folks with more experience writing for publication.
This is a deeper pool than I’ve been in before, and it’s had an immediate impact on both the quality and productivity of my writing. It’s also made me painfully aware of how much rust I have to knock off in order to get to a place where I can write consistently with quality. Up to this point, I’ve been able to do either, but not both.
Another nice thing is that the activities within LH are helping me build a portfolio of sorts. Every week there’s a “flash challenge,” in which I have to generate a 500-1000+ word story in no more than 90 minutes, starting from a trigger. This trigger may be a phrase, a picture, a cartoon, a movie clip, or some other stimulus, and I have no idea what it will be until I start the clock. There are also periodic challenges for short stories (~1500-10000 words) and polishing of existing stories, as well as random impromptu challenges devised by members of the community. It’s really helping me break through the writer’s block and explore themes and styles I probably wouldn’t consider if left to my own devices. In just a couple of weeks, I’ve generated 5 stories in various stages of completion, and am probably doing 500 words a day minimum just in development and revision.
I probably won’t be writing the Great American Novel anytime soon, but I’m beginning to see how to develop an idea past the “drive-by fiction” level into a longer, more developed form.