September 8, 2010

Drabble Reflection

I've now completed the 100 Drabbles of Summer Challenge. I did finish a bit early - I was told the challenge was supposed to end on Labor Day, and I knew I'd be camping through Labor Day weekend, so I wrote ahead in order that I would have all posts up and done while I was in the midst of rural Texas without internet access. But as it turns out, there are fewer than 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so there are a few more days of the challenge, and I'm done much earlier than expected. Ah well. Now I will know for next year.

I started the challenge as part of the Character Loft community on Livejournal. Most of the people there were doing their drabbles to develop characters for original stories, fanfic, or RPGs. I was one of the only participants who was not using the drabble challenge to work on character development. My goal was to simply write standalone stories. It was interesting being a part of the community and having different goals from most of the people there. It was fun to see the other participants work out there characters, but I did feel a little alone as one of the few writers who was not character-focused. Still, it's a great community, and I look forward to spending more time there as I begin character development for my new novel.

My final two drabbles actually were character development pieces for a story I got an idea for just as the challenge was winding down. As you might have read, they're intense. I haven't actually used the drabbles in the story - they ended up not working in the draft. But I'm glad I wrote them; they were a good foundation for getting into the heads of my characters.

I also wrote a lot of non-erotic drabbles. I started with the intention of writing erotica, but some days my creativity was in a different place. So I let myself do whatever I wanted. Post-breakup, my erotic drabbles nearly disappeared, given the abrupt shift in my mood, which was fine. I actually used drabbles for a lot of post-breakup venting. It was extremely helpful and cathartic. Plus, I found that writing breakup drabbles actually was helpful in my grieving process. I sat down, wrote 100 words that reflected how I was feeling, and then didn't feel the need to dwell on it for several hours. The concentrated period of letting things out left me much more capable of remaining productive while dealing with loss.

I've learned that drabbles are an excellent way to remain productive when you're stuck. Some days, I just wasn't feeling inspired. But I still had to meet my challenge. And if you're feeling blocked, convincing yourself to only write 100 words is a lot less daunting than tackling a larger project. It was pretty easy to motivate myself to just do a drabble even if I didn't feel motivated. Often, the act of writing the drabble opened up the floodgates. And if it didn't - well, I'd met my challenge for the day. I gave myself a pass to do research, errands, or chores.

And above all, writing drabbles helped me with concision. Most of my drabbles were too long and I spent much of my time on them paring the pieces down to exactly 100 words. It made me realize that I use a lot of unnecessary adjectives and otherwise give details that don't necessarily advance my story. My writing is gradually becoming cleaner as the result of the drabble challenge.

This is the first time since April that I am not involved in some sort of writing-a-day challenge. April was NaPoWriMo, May was Story-A-Day, and then I immediately launched into drabbles. It's refreshing to have some time of from challenge mode while I gear up for NaNoWriMo in November. Not being obligated to write a new piece every single day leaves me more time for the research I'm doing for my new novel. Plus, it's nice to be on a bit of a hiatus - I'm still working, but there's no pressure to do something new every day. But I do enjoy such challenges, and I look forward to participating in them all again next year. They were a wonderful boon to my creativity and my productivity, and have made me an overall better writer.

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