Natalie Talks About What Works For Her
As writers we are all different. We have to be or we’d all be producing exactly the same story. When it comes to my work I am not a great planner. This has, believe it or not, advantages as well as disadvantages. For me planning impedes the natural flow as I write by inspiration – or is it desperation? From the word go I almost invariably know what the ending is going to be but hardly ever how I’m going to get there. I tend not to stop and think but just to head straight in from that first sentence. But where does that first sentence come from?
Ideas are not my strongest point but once they’ve been planted I’m off. There are several websites that offer prompts and these can be very useful, both for titles and subject matter. However, nearly two years ago when trawling for competitions I discovered something that for me has proved invaluable. A website called ‘Write Invite’ and I will try to explain how it works and why it has been such a useful tool.
After registration one has to purchase credits via PayPal (though the first competition is free). The cost per credit is £4 but this can be reduced considerably (to £3) when buying in bulk. Every Saturday at 5.30pm I can be found logged on and logged into the site waiting for the option to participate. You can of course decline. Three choices are given and the object is to write a complete story on one of them and submit within thirty minutes. The first time I tried it (and the second and the third) I was terrified but what an amazing adrenalin rush! Your brain tells you that this is not the time to stare at a blank screen and something kicks in and you begin to write, not stopping to correct typos or grammar, a habit I find difficult to overcome but there is no place for it here; no time.
I have yet to win this competition though I have been placed a few times. Am I throwing good money after bad? Definitely not! I have built up a collection of short stories that would never otherwise have been written, all complete and most not long enough to be suitable for women’s magazines. I have taken those stories, reworked them and submitted to magazines with enough of a success rate that I am quids ahead. So I regard my fee as an investment, money well spent because by a longer route it has generated more.
If you don’t wish to invest in something like this try picking three words or phrases out of the dictionary and using one of those. It’s a method that can also work – but not always because there is no pressure. There’s nothing like a ticking clock to galvanise you into producing some very fine work.