Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)Scribbling notes onto scrap paper, improvising stories in the playground, acting 'spies' in the park with my brother and creating long detailed character lists for future epics was how I spent half my childhood...drawing and reading occupied the other half!
Then I grew up and life got busy!
I continued to imagine and write, but barely more than a diary entry or shopping list...
It took years before my confidence recovered enough to allow my creative side freedom once more. When my youngest was born I began to write again creating a world of fantasy and dragons for my children, and I knew I had to let my writing develop wings of its own.
After discovering Twitter, some random follows lead me to Five Sentence Fiction with Lillie McFerrin. Over Christmas last year I read lots of entries, but wasn't sure of blogging etiquette and whether I could just join in...I could! I threw myself in feet first with Clandestine and there it was my first ever Flash Fiction!
The following week gave my writing purpose and creativity.
Til then everything I'd written over ten years had been lengthy works in progress and one finished book. I hadn't written anything short, bar occasional poetry. Five sentences had fired my brain, making me think hard and forcing me to create a whole story in nothing more than a few lines.
It made me confront structure, characters, language, nuances, metaphors and twists; I even had to brush up on grammar, though I'm no way an expert, so forgive a few semi-colons lurking where they shouldn't!
Five sentences had me trying prose, a snapshot of a moment, a whole story and many other variations in creative writing in response to a single prompt word.
And along the way I made friends who, without knowing, built up not only my self-confidence and writing skills, but my self-worth at the same time.
When, in April, I saw many friends entering Anna Meade and Susi Holliday's Once Upon A Time Contest I read the entries eagerly, but didn't think I could enter, then several bloggers asked if I was, and I suddenly realised I'd become part of a wonderfully supportive writing community, and if I believed in my writing it was time to diversify! So I entered and this adventure ended with my story being included in the Once Upon A Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales book amongst authors I really admire!
Since then my Flash Fictioneering has grown, my blog has become a writer's blog and my skills have expanded.
I've taken part in the Forbidden Love Bloghop hosted by Lillie, Ruth and Janelle; yearningforwonderland's Faerytaleish Pinterest Contest with The Coat, for which I got an Honourable Mention, and Waiting; I wrote an Unzombie Tale for zombiemechanics flash fiction contest and completed Terri Long's Blogflash2012.
I've written actual stories, learning how to craft and structure, I've learned how to cut what doesn't matter. I've learned how every word counts, especially in anonymouslegacy's Visual Dare and jezri's Nightmare's 55 Word Challenge, both Angela and Lisa's challenges show that every word makes a difference and you quickly discover what you don't need!
These visual prompts allowed me to explore different genres and ideas and put me on the spot, 55 Words only allows 24 hours...think fast!
Becoming a Flash Fictioneer has helped me no end, there are still new prompts I want to try sweetbananaink's Friday Night Write's musical prompt chief among them, though I've learned that right now my weekend's are usually too busy to write! And try oneword my latest find, hit the button, see the word and you have sixty seconds to write!
So if you want to flex those creative muscles, get over to one of these sites, I shouldn't need to prompt you now, should I?
*Note: There are other Flash Fiction sites available: glitterword's Tuesdaytales, caramichaels Menagemonday and Donna B. McNichol's Write4ten to name a few. If I'm missing any you love, feel free to comment below!