19 February 2013 - 5:30 pm

Challenging my brain

Look! She's putting Superman shit in my brain! From Adventure Comics #350, November 1966

Look! She’s putting Superman shit in my brain!
From Adventure Comics #350, November 1966

For the past week, I’ve been hip-deep in the writing challenge morass. After realising how little time I have until the Writer’s Asylum will be upon us, pondering ideas for challenges has been sucking up my spare time. (Don’t worry: I have this week’s Starwalker post all sorted out.)

It has been an interesting process. I started off just making notes, trying to build a list of challenges that touches a lot of different subjects, styles, and themes. I need 6 challenges in total for the event: this list is both woefully short in terms of scope, and long in terms of coming up with complete challenges.

I wound up with a list of 9 or 10 themes I could potentially do. Some of them automatically shaped themselves into scenarios in my head, which made the next phase a bit easier.

The next phase was to write the challenges out in full, which has been a process all in itself. The challenges have to be general enough that the writers can take the prompts where their creative muse lead them, but specific enough to push them into an area they wouldn’t normally write in. There need to be options with guidance. Freedom within constraints. Enough information for writers to get hold of and take inspiration from, but not so much that they’re strangled by it or thrown out of the idea.

It has been fun! I’ve made up little exercises for my Creative Writing Group before but nothing on this scale. It has been a challenge in itself, stretching me into a new area. I’m writing them up in the form that I’ll probably use when I post them up on this blog (the challenges will be mirrored online, for those who can’t make it to the event in person). I’ll be reading them out at the event, which will be a scripted form of public speaking; also something I haven’t really done before (I’m an off-the-cuff kind of speaker most of the time, running off brief notes).

It’s a learning experience for me all over. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be able to take part in the challenges (it’s cheating because I already know what they are, and I suspect I’ll be busy facilitating on the day, both in person and online). Even so, I might have a go at them before the day, just to see what happens.

I have one left to write (the hardest one, of course) and then I’ll be ready. The proof will be in the testing, though. I have no idea if these are going to go the way I think they will and I can’t wait to share them with everyone anyway.

One left. Let’s see if I can knock it over tonight. Then all that’s left is logistics! Yay!

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