Writing is hard. In my experience, it involves squinting hard at a screen then typing a handful of words, only to immediately delete most of them. Rinse, lather, repeat until braindeath. It’s nice when it comes easily, when you get into the flow of it, but that’s pretty rare for me.
That’s where writing exercises come in. I need to engage in these more often. They’re a way of flexing brain muscles that I’ve been letting atrophy. A drabble here, a stream of consciousness there. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write.
One of my favourite exercises is the Six Word Story. The aim is to write a self-contained story that says everything it needs to say in just six words. The most famous one is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, though there’s doubt as to whether or not he actually wrote it : “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” There’s a whole story’s worth of sorrow in those six words alone.
I find it difficult to get a whole story in six words, but that’s why it’s a challenge. Here’s a few I came up with :
What goes up sometimes comes down.
I thrash, I flail, I sink.
I aim my gun. Still miss.
Since you left, I’ve been sleeping.
“Please don’t,” she said. I did.
“Please don’t.” I did it anyway.
Do Not Push? What could possibly-
No experience? No job for you.
Play it again, Sam. No? Ok.
Sad songs, empty glass. She’s gone.
Screams. Heart pounding. Crying. Baby boy.
“Look out for-!” SPLAT. “… never mind.”
My stomach hurts. Get it out.
Ate Dad. Could have tasted better.
Got super powers. Jumped. Couldn’t fly.
Dead on arrival. Why’s he moving?
Where’s the holy water? Oh shit.
I loved her. Now she’s gone.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Click.
Now cut the red NO WAIT
I should write. What’s on TV?
The stench of death. How lovely.
The words won’t come. Blank screen.
Plastic bottle, plastic bag, plastic flesh.
I bite down and drink deep.
The hunger burns. I eat more.
Feel free to share your own in the comments!