Tag Archives: wip500


An Exercise: The Reluctant I

This is a writing exercise from The 3 A.M. Epiphany, which is probably one of my favorite prompt books of all time. I did this as part of Rowan Cota’s Writing Exercises in the Google+ Writers’ Discussion Group. If you’re looking for good writing community, I highly recommend this one. I enjoy the resources and encouragement that people are sharing there. (Disclaimer: I’m a moderator of that community, so I’m mostly biased. I wouldn’t be a moderator if I didn’t think it was a fantastic group, though!)

This is the very first exercise from the book, and involves writing a scene from the first-person perspective, but only using the words I or me twice in the entire 600 words. Feel free to join in and try your hand at this one if you’d like! Here’s mine:


I was not on shift when they brought Jane Doe into the hospital. The others said it had been a hard night, full of the twists and turns of life and death. They operated on her through the night, while the nurses spoke with police officers and detectives who were on a desperate hunt for clues and next of kin.

They found no one. There was not a trace of identity to Jane, nothing to reveal that she had, in fact, existed at all. No photos. No dental records. No finger prints. Nothing matched. The only evidence of her existence was the fact that she was found half-dead in the road by a good Samaritan and delivered to the hospital.

The Samaritan offered no clues either. He was a gentleman of 60, not a Samaritan at all, but a man from Detroit who had taken a wrong turn on his way to the Stadium. There was a game that night. There’s a game every night of the week, it seems, based on how many people come in talking about the game.

“What’s the score?” they ask.

“Try not to move, sir,” the nurse says. “The doctor needs you to stay absolutely still while he stitches that wound.”

“Somebody in this place has to know the score!”

The score is the most important thing. It’s the thing that keeps them all motivated. It’s their reason for getting up each day, for going to work, for coming to the hospital to have their bleeding stopped and their wounds stitched. It’s always about the score.

Even the Samaritan that wasn’t a Samaritan only stayed for a moment. He disappeared before signing the paperwork, before anyone could question him or identify him or find out where he’d found the half-dead woman or why he didn’t call 911 or how he found the hospital at all if he was lost on his way to the stadium. These were all the questions he left unanswered in his search for the score, and that’s why Jane Doe still lies in my ICU ward with no identifying connections at all.

The nurses tried their best. They worked all night. The hard battle was written all over their faces the next morning. The score. That morning, life was winning, but the game between life and death was close.

Jane Doe still holds her slim lead in the game. She looks as peaceful now as any of the other patients, as though she has quietly forgiven the injustice enacted upon her. The gashes on her face have healed to tight little pink lines. The rest of her wounds are closed now, and no longer need packing. Her body is alive, building and repairing itself. 

It’s only her soul that’s still missing.


The Journey

Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to realize how much I’ve changed since I started this blog. I actually plan to come back and post here at least once or twice a week now and update my progress, so you get a better idea what I’m about. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s a good step. Just for kicks, here’s a timeline of my writing journey thus far:

1. I thought I might like to be a writer. It had always sounded interesting, and I knew I enjoyed writing when I did it. But there was a lot of fear involved, mostly due to some bad experiences in the past.

2. I started telling a few people I wanted to be a writer. At the time, I was editing a church newsletter and I had also kept a blog for several years before, so it wasn’t much of a step (or, other people didn’t think so).

3. I started writing. Strangely enough, I was an award-winning screenwriter in college and had my poetry published in several anthologies. But it had been 10 years since I had put pen to paper to do any sort of creative writing. I started with a terrible novel during NaNoWriMo in 2009. I wrote the full 50,000 word novel that November. But then I stopped.

4. I joined Script Frenzy in April 2010. That’s about the time I started here. I was getting a little more serious about considering myself to be a writer, but not because I actually wrote much. When I did do one of the OLL contests, I felt like a superstar though, although I never let anyone read anything.

5. I started attending meetings of my local writer’s guild in September 2010. I wrote another 50,000 word novel in November that year. It was during one of the write-ins that I mentioned a book (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) to my fellow writers and discovered they all had a copy hidden away. The rest is history.

6. I founded an Artist Way group in January 2011, and facilitated weekly meetings. At one point, there were 8 people attending. By the time the twelve week course was completed, there were 5 of us. We started as a ragtag group of broken people, and bloomed into a tribe of accepting and encouraging creatives. We still meet even though it’s been over a year since we finished the book.

7. One of the other members of the group was interested in screenwriting, and we committed to writing together. We brainstormed, researched, plotted, planned, and wrote feature-length scripts during the spring.

8. Thanks to the group and the writers guild, I was asked to give a screenwriting workshop in March 2011. It was a huge success, and people still talk to me about it sometimes.

9. Around April or May of 2011, I discovered flash fiction. I started hitting the point that I really wanted to improve my skills as a writer and storyteller, and I learned about five minute prompts. I started doing the prompts with my Artist Way group, and we would read them aloud to each other. This was incredibly frightening at first, and incredibly freeing after a while.

10. During the summer of 2011, I wrote a few 55-word pieces of flash and entered them in online contests. I tied for 3rd place and won $30 for one of them. That fall, I was asked to give a flash fiction workshop for the guild. It was frightening, but wonderful, and hearing everyone’s stories was a huge encouragement to me.

11. In August 2011, I wrote a real story. It was an idea I had been toying with for a while. I wrote it from start to finish in my notebook. I loved it so much, I let my Artist Way group read it. Then I let my husband read it. It was the first time I’d let him see my writing. He was impressed and hugely encouraging. I started pulling out that story whenever anyone expressed an interest in my writing.

12. In October 2011, I submitted that story, in proper manuscript format, to a call for submissions. This was a big step for me. The story was rejected, without so much as a comment, so I put it away for a while.

13. I wrote another story, and submitted it for a different contest. Again, rejection.

14. The new year came. WIP500 happened. The Writers Accountability group started on Google+. The commitment to write 500 words every day meant that all those stories and characters and ideas stuck in my brain started coming out.

15. In February, one of my Artist Way friends sent me a link to a story call and said my first story would work well for it. I was scared, but decided to submit. It was rejected, but with a personal note to send more stories.

16. I’ve since earned 8 rejections on that story, each one more positive than the last. I’m starting to understand that the rejections are not personal and are all about timing and theme and what fits with what.

17. Sometime during August of this year, I started feeling a strange angsty feeling about my writing that I hadn’t felt before. I want readers. I don’t want my work to be hidden anymore. I want to find the people who will enjoy my writing. It’s a strange feeling for me, considering I’ve hidden my creativity away for so long. This is when I realized I was growing up as a writer.

18. In the past seven days, I’ve submitted two new stories to calls. I now have a total of four stories floating around out there, waiting to find homes. This is work that I’m proud of, and want to share. This is work I will continue to shop out, even if it gets rejected again. This is work I may self-publish in the future. This is work that I send to my husband and my friends and my brother and proudly say, “Read my new story! What do you think?” and then change things that they find confusing. Because I don’t mind good criticism anymore.

It’s pretty great, actually. I’ve gone from wanting to write, to actually writing, to letting my creations out into the wild. I still need more courage to tackle the editing on the three novels I’ve written and the fourth one that I’m currently working on. I feel like my devotion to flash fiction and short stories is like a series of baby steps to longer fiction. And maybe, in another few years, I’ll be even further along than I am right now.

I mostly put this here to remind myself, but if you read all of this, thank you for being one of the friends who has encouraged me along the way. I hope to report good things to you all in the future! Who knows, maybe one of those stories will find a home soon.


Winter Wrap Up and the WIP 500

The last year ended up being a very eventful one for me. There are two things I consider the best things I did: I started weekly date nights with my husband, and I facilitated an Artists Way group. One kept me closer to my family – we never scheduled over our date, and even if we just watched a movie, we had that time together. And the other provided me one of the best, most encouraging group of friends I’ve ever had.

Thanks to those two things, I am quite happy with how 2011 turned out. I even did a few truly terrifying things, like running Screenwriting and Flash Fiction workshops and playing the piano for people. Not only that, but I have been writing.

I have always enjoyed writing. It’s taken me a while to better understand it. I’ve always kept journals, scribbled out bad poems, written weird songs, and made up all sorts of nonsense about the characters that occupy my head. And in 2011, thanks to a challenge from a friend to write a screenplay in 30 days, I got back to writing every day. I wrote the screenplay. Then a novel. Then a few flash fiction stories. Then some regular short stories. And I started submitting my work. I let people read my stuff. And now I’m working on a novel that I am rather fond of.

Which leads me to the WIP500. I joined a group of writers from across the internets who are taking part in a challenge to write 500 words each and every day this year. My goal is to write every day, and to let the days average to 500 words (because some days of the week are far more difficult than others). Yesterday I wrote a short 144-word story. Today I will write more on my novel. I may not make it all 366 days, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in 2012.

Do you have creative goals for your year? I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a comment and let me know what you’ll be working on in 2012. 🙂