Why Flash Fiction is my Cure for Brain Drain #authortoolboxbloghop

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Thank you Raimey!


This week, I’m preparing to teach a writing workshop to honors eighth grade English Language Arts students. I’ve been asked to talk about Flash Fiction. Thus, my purpose for today’s post and why I think it’s the best cure when you really need to refocus and shift your thoughts.

  1. It’s like real life when you stop to think about it.

No matter where I am, memories or flashes of my life slip into my thoughts and steal my focus for a brief period of time. I might be sitting at my desk working on the design of a new logo for a school, and suddenly I’m hearing the voice of my son from earlier that morning chattering about some funny story that made him laugh in school, or hear the sound of my daughter’s voice bellowing down the hallway to some book on cd or karaoke song she played and practiced in her room. There’s always a beginning, middle and end. It’s brief. It’s meaningful. It’s relief in the busyness of my day.

  1. The challenge to think of something new.

Ever tried to write with visual props?

When my writing partner introduced me to the idea of trying to write multiple pieces a week, I laughed. I thought, How in the world can I shift my focus so fast? Writing prompts are all that’s needed. When using them, I find it’s helpful to let your mind wander and then stop on something that makes you hold your breath. I combine quotes with visual faces, landscapes, animals, sparkly bubbles. Typically I write with two, sometimes three. Pinterest is my go-to tool. I have a board called writing prompts where I keep visually intriguing pins. What works best for me, is to limit myself with an amount of time to focus on one story. When I make up my mind, I usually commit myself to three pieces a week. I assign a deadline and set the clock. Usually these exercises take place during a lunch break and begin on Monday. When the hour is over I shift my focus again. I allow myself to reread the story later that night after the kids have gone to bed. I edit it. Then I share it with my writing partner. The next day at lunch, I might take another look, but by Wednesday, it’s time to move on to a new one.

  1. Low pressure to be perfect.

With Flash Fiction, I allow myself to shove every lengthy novel idea I have out of my head. The prompts are the perfect visual distraction. I free write and let my mind wander and don’t focus too deeply on the histories of my characters, because as I know about me, I go pretty deep into their stories. It’s also a major point of Flash Fiction mentioned in Writer’s Digest. You can read the full article here.

  1. Surprising outcomes.

In my practice with Flash Fiction, I came up with four very different stories from my usual topics of interest. It was surprisingly fresh and gave me a new view about how far I could push my brain.


  1. The pace is fast and complete with a beginning, middle and end.

I try to keep my Flash Fiction between 1,000 – 1,500 words max. It’s also great exercise to help focus on a point of conflict, the moment we define our theme and hold back our character’s most wanted thing in the whole world, and finally create a conclusion in a brief and satisfying period of time.

Question. What helps you create new and different story ideas?

Lastly, here’s my favorite quote about challenge and adventure:

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on September 20, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 51 Comments.

  1. Louise@DragonspireUK

    My story ideas come from all over the place. Images, word prompts, and the real world too. Just yesterday I saw a docked ship called ‘Friedman Twenty.’ I asked my partner what happened to the other nineteen before it, and thus a scene for a story was born!
    I love writing prompts a lot, and Flash fiction even more. Your reasons resonate with me: They are why I write weekly short stories. If you get time in October, you should join us on Twitter for #FlashFicHive. There’s not many of us yet, but it’s always great fun 🙂

  2. What a terrific post — love the discipline to let loose and have fun, the Pinterest board, the kids being themselves, all of it. Hope the kids received it — I bet they did — and at least one tried out a bit on their own (while being incredibly cool and removed from anything like enthusiasm for something an adult told them). I blog daily — and it does much the same thing — and has reverberated back to enrich, speed my novel writing!

    • Hi Louise. Thank you so much. I plan to write a reflection next week. I admire your dedication to your blog and also how you are able to apply the speed to your novel writing. Thank you for stopping in today 🙂

  3. Great post! For the first 1/3 of this year, I used the WordPress Daily Prompt to write Flash Fictions or anecdotes of my life. I wasn’t suffering a block or anything but I was participating in an online fiction writing course, which distracted me from novel writing, so I thought daily blogging would be useful exercise. The result was, I came up with some really good story concepts that I could build upon later, my brain was on an adrenaline high from working at the speed, and I started gaining followers on a daily basis. Needless to say, I became addicted really fast. But then blogging was all I wanted to do and novel writing took a back seat. Around May, I made a conscious decision to blog only twice weekly so that while I still get the exercise and enjoy the diversion, but my novel writing remains on the forefront. However, I still depend on the Daily Prompts to focus at least one blog on. It’s good a good writing challenge to have in order to keep the old noggin in shape and spritely 🙂

    • I completely see how the addiction can happen. I loved it too when I got lost in all these different stories. I even had a dream about one and then, it turned into my current work in progress. Yes, I’ve also had to prioritize my novel work and decided to not blog every week like I was. I wish I could, but with my kids it makes it hard and I have an early morning window of opportunity every day to write. I admire your dedication to your blog 🙂

  4. Wonderful post! I’ve never thought of flash fiction this way, but now I’m itching to try it again when I need a break from novel writing or just need to play with a new idea. Thank you!

  5. Never used flash fiction in that way! Very interesting! I do use visuals to help me. I saw a painting two weeks ago and a scene popped up. I’ll try flash fiction. It seems like a great idea. Thank you!!

  6. I find writing shorts and flash very challenging. Putting all the story in a compact form is tough. Definitely worth it when I’m done though. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  7. It also really forces you to make every word count when you’re trying to polish one.

  8. I should definitely write more flash fiction and short stories, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I don’t’ know how to get a character across the room in less than 1200 words. lol

  9. Thanks for another great post. I keep wanting to try my hand at flash fiction, and this post is definitely giving more motivation to give it a shot. I love the Pinterest board for prompts. I’ll have to check yours out!

  10. I’m slowly getting into shorter fiction, and I find I’m more attracted to writing competitions with prompts, because I like the challenge. How do I create something unique in only so many words while incorporating a theme or prompt? I normally spend one shower session brainstorming, and if I can’t come up with something, at least my hair is clean. 😉

  11. Love the title. Didn’t even know I had brain drain, but now that you pointed it out, I get it too. I love to write novels. That’s my passion. My cure for brain drain is going for a run with my dog.

    • You make me laugh Kristina. 🙂 My dog passed a few years back and I did love our walks. Writing and talking about writing to others is my passion too, and I know someday I will get there too. 🙂

      • Of course you will. I believe it just takes a bit of hard work and persistence. You’re doing all the right stuff. Sorry to hear about your dog. That’s always a sad day. They should live longer 🙂

  12. That sounds like so much fun, Erika. You’ll be great at it. The thing I like best about flash fiction is that you don’t need to worry about backstory or what comes next. It’s easy to just let the imagination fly.

  13. Great post! I’m constantly writing flash fiction because I enjoy the immediacy of it. Plus, it gets me out of the habit of getting too caught up in description, which is something I struggle with when writing longer pieces. And I’ll be checking out that Writer’s Digest article! Thanks!

  14. I have a hard time writing a 5K short story, but your suggestions give me a path to follow. Not thinking about it too hard might be my answer.

  15. Excellent post! I love flash fiction, and I enjoy the challenge that it brings.

    I agree that prompts are helpful, as are visuals, lyrics, etc. have you tried #FlashFicHive on Twitter? It’s quite fun (and every other month).

    I love the surprises, too! Trying to see where your words take you are an adventure for sure!

    I hope your students enjoy the lesson! I can’t wait for the flash fiction part of our middle school Writing Club!

    • Hi JJ. Are you a teacher? I am really enjoying these blog hops. I love meeting others like you out there I may never have had the chance to. Have a great rest of your week 🙂

      • I am a teacher! I each 7th grade writing this year (certified from 4th-12th). We started our Writing Club last year, and it’s been successful. If only I could encourage more students to join…. 🤔

      • That’s so hard. I remember the struggle
        Myself as a teen and joining the creative writing club. It was a huge courageous step. I am planning to start my certification this spring 🙂

  16. I’ve never written flash fiction, but I do use visual prompts. My Pinterest boards are full of them.

  17. Hi! I love flash fiction for all of these reasons! 🙂 Great post!

  18. I haven’t written a FF story in ages but loved it when I did. It’s like Cornflakes; I love a bowel with ice cold milk then forget for a while. 🙂 Never used Flash Fiction in this way so I must revisit it. Thank you!

  19. This is a great article. I used to struggle with short fiction, but now I find it to can be a cure from brain drain. Plus, I like having all these new story ideas to work with.

  20. How interesting! I’ve read several posts that say the authors insert personal information in their work. Loved your picture for the Oct. IWSG!

  21. I love your post about Flash Fiction. The graphic novelist, Lynda Barry, has similar writing prompts to bring stories out of you. She has a couple of books that show you how to do it. You can watch her videos on YouTube where she talks about these things, too. For example, she asks you to list 20 people from your childhood, write interesting things that you remember about them or your interaction with them, then develop 2-3 stories from those things.

  1. Pingback: Erika Beebe shares some excellent advice on jump-starting your brain with Flash Fiction – Words for Charity

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