Awhile back, I was given the challenge to write something out of my norm. As a writer, I approached this with the appropriate attitude: “Bring it!”
These were the challenge guidelines:
- Genre: SciFi – No problammo!
- Length: No more than 30 book pages – Really? Ugh. It’s okay, I can do this!
- Characters: A child of either gender between the ages of 7-14; a 50 year old Native American Man – Heh, thinks he’s clever, trying to get me in touch with my ancestors, but…
- Location: Any American Desert – …Yeah, this. My tribes were plains people and I’m a forest dweller. No offense, but NOTHING about the desert excites me.
- Stipulations: Can be a small town nearby, but story must focus on the two main characters – Understandable.
- No sex – ((GASP)) What?!!… Like, none? I get between the main characters, but like… at all?
Never one to back down to a challenge, I dove into the research, got my characters completely felt out, their back stories, their personalities, the right desert location, even authentic languages and culture influence and set to writing. I was going to rock this! Two months later, the challenge sits on my computer a whole page and a half in length and not going any further. This is even after scrapping my original idea and trying to take the characters in a different direction…. still, nothing.
The problem is that I simply cannot write when the subject matter doesn’t inspire me. When nothing about it gets my creative juices flowing. I’m sure there are a million and one writers out there that could take those guidelines and birth an absolutely amazing story that anyone would enjoy reading – Just not this writer.
Now, being the instigator that he is, I was eventually given a second challenge and the only guidelines were these:
- Length: 10,000 words or less
- First line must be: “It all started when I died”
I was done, under the word-cap limit, in less than a week. Why? Because I had complete creative freedom to take the story in any direction I wanted. Because the limitless, boundary-free blank space beyond that first line was all the motivation I needed to write the way I wanted, to create any world I wanted and let my imagination have its reign over my pen. Inspired, personalized; the flow was non-stop until the final punctuation mark was set in place. Soon afterward, I joined the wonderful community here on WordPress and was introduced to the realm of this similar type of challenge with the Daily Prompts.
Now, I can’t help being curious about my fellow bloggers. I’d love to get others opinions and/or experiences in writing outside of their normal creative comfort zones. Can you write about anything, no matter what the guidelines? Or do you need the utter creative freedom left to your discretion beyond that single prompt?