WFMAD Day 3 – Taste the fiction

Day Three! Judging from your comments, some of you guys are pounding away at the keys…. some of you are having trouble finding your keyboard.

Remember. You have PERMISSION to write this month. Maybe I should change that. You are REQUIRED to write at least 15 minutes a day for the rest of the month. Does it make it easier if I turn it into a demand instead of a suggestion?

Steven King,  in On Writing, says “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” It’s the discomfort of that scary moment that keeps you from starting. As we say around the Forest, pull up your big-girl pants and get on with it.

To help you prepare to battle your fears, I filmed the following video in my Forest this weekend.

Enjoy the following Summer Moment of Zen as you settle in to write.


Turn off your phone. Disconnect from the Internet.

Today’s prompt: Writing in short chunks like 15 minute blocks can feel a bit awkward unless you are already deep in a project. I find that it helps a lot to start a piece of writing in a memory and let it roll from there into fiction.

When you are nice and relaxed from the sound of the rushing stream above (or you have returned from the bathroom because the sound of the water made you aware of a rather pressing need) take a moment to remember the breakfasts you ate in the summertime as a child. Was it a bowl of cold cereal eaten in front of cartoons? Pancakes at your grandfather’s house? Bug juice and toast at summer camp? Cold pizza with your big brother home from college? Your first cup of coffee as a teenager, trying to impress someone?

Write down the memory – quickly. Then add in as many details as your remember until you tap the memory dry.

THEN… add details that you can’t remember. Embellish. Put in the pattern of the curtains, or the grease on the window, or the lonesome sneaker on top of the refrigerator.

Bonus points: Have a fictional character walk up in the scene and join you. What will she eat? Why? How long is she staying? And why is she in conflict with the rest of the people in the scene? Show the conflict. Taste the eggs. Spill the juice.


35 Replies to “WFMAD Day 3 – Taste the fiction”

  1. The memories I have often intended to write down were about the first several years Rob and I were blending our family at Christmas. We began to “boobie trap” our kids bedroom doors so they couldn’t sneak out to check out presents too early. It became a challenge to see who could “win”. My favorite year— when we used electricity! (Please don’t report me to social services, no one got hurt! ) 🙂

  2. 7:30 a.m. – I write a Do Not Disturb sign for Waiting Husband and tape it to the kitchen door. Escape outside to our porch to settle into the swing. I watch the video. My shoulders drop. My neck is no longer stiff.
    I want to be there. Near the water. Writing. Alone on a log.
    I set my timer for twenty minutes and type. Memories flood. Memories of pancakes, broken eggs, and bills being shoved through the slot of our front door.
    Memories of no eggs. No milk. Only pangs of hunger.
    It is not easy to have such memories come forward. But the timer is ticking and I must keep writing, keep remembering.
    There is a reason for this exercise today, I just know it.
    The timer goes off. I write for five more minutes until the pain forces me out of the chair and back into my kitchen.
    I open my refrigerator to make breakfast.
    The egg carton is nearly empty. I remove the one egg. Crack it against the counter, and suddenly, I am eight years old again.
    Thank you, Laurie – for pushing me!!

  3. I think I may keep that video bookmarked. Talk about instant stress relief!

    Thanks for this challenge, Laurie! I started yesterday and thanks to “Write or Die” timed my 15 minutes this morning with no problems or interruptions! 🙂

  4. Your prompt has made me wonder if my vivid memories of childhood and of what it felt like to be ages 5-19 or 20 are the reason I would rather write for young people than for adults. It’s something worth mulling over.

  5. OK, so the kitchen was a mess and I said, just knock these dirty dishes out of the way, and then fifteen minutes to myself. Being the original Rube Goldberg of disaster, and since it is summer, and we are eating tomatoes like crazy as they roll off the fields, and since, in the bottom of my dishpan is my favorite tomato knife, I cut the tip of my ring finger. So I am trying not to get blood on my keyboard as I write for fifteen minutes. I would use a pen, but I can type as fast as I think and it just frustrates me to write old school. Wow. WFMAD is still novel. I mean, look at me, writing and bleeding.

  6. Fifteen minutes turned into twenty-five minutes again today. It was wonderful to go back to being twelve years old and remember the taste of biscuits and tomatoes eaten in front of the television while watching reruns of Full House. This was before I knew biscuits and tomatoes was kind of a weird breakfast and when the thought of going swimming at the public pool made me gleeful. Thank you so much for the prompt!

  7. While watching the video I kept expecting Kermit the Frog to pop up and sing “It’s not that easy bein’ green…” Yes, a sure sign that there are kids in my house.

    I actually wrote a breakfast scene a few days ago, so I kept plugging along with my WIP. Thankfully my laptop had a battery in because there was a power surge and it would have shut down if it weren’t for the luxury of back-up power.

    But the fifteen minutes was broken up with having to check my aquarium filters–I have a few stubborn ones that like to freeze up when power shuts down–and trying to figure out what to do with half baked banana bread in the bread machine, since I’ve never had to deal with lost power during a baking cycle before… simple joys of a modern domestic life!

  8. I went back to my ‘story’ today (don’t want to call it a novel just yet) and the writing took me well past the 15 minute mark. I may try the prompt later anyway, or go back to my story. No rule against writing twice in a day!

    I like writing earlier in the day, as I did today, rather than in the evening. Or maybe in addition to a night-write. It feel luxurious to write in the early afternoon; time stands before me, arms open.

  9. I managed a twenty-five minutes today! I feel very accomplished for sticking with a part in my story for that long. I also feel the stress of the week slowly melting away with each word I typed, and now I feel AMAZING! I used the prompt today, only I made a very dramatic breakfast scene. Felt good to get out any anger, if I had any, and to flow with my characters again. I feel so free now, expecially being able to talk with people who hopefully understand the way I feel too.
    Loved the forest by the way. The brooke was so beautiful and relaxing! Definetly a needed summer Zen.
    Good Luck Today Everyone!!

  10. I couldn’t remember much about breakfasts, but I did go off on a productive tangent and realized something I had held against my mom was actually an act of giving and sacrifice on her part.

  11. This is my first posting here, but I’ve been participating in WFMAD for these three days now. I’ve been writing for years — and writing semi-seriously for the past two years, in particular — and one of the things that often trips me up when I’m trying to write is that I can’t get started when I first sit down. It just seems too _daunting_. Sometimes I know what I want to say and sometimes I don’t — but if I’m in one of those Daunting Moods, it doesn’t matter either way, because I’ll try typing a line or two, and of course it won’t turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, or exactly the way I pictured it, and I end up despairing: You can’t do this, you can’t write, why are you even trying.

    And I think a huge part of the problem is that often, when I sit down, I’m sitting down to write a book. And of course that is a terrible idea. Somewhere, I read the advice: “Don’t ever sit down to write a _book_. Just sit down to write a _page_.” Sage advice, but even that can prove daunting on those more difficult days.

    But something marvelous has happened over the past few days: I have discovered the freedom of writing in short chunks of time. I agree that can feel a bit choppy when you’re just starting a new project, but on the other hand, there’s nothing _daunting_ about writing for fifteen minutes. Because there’s no pressure. Set the timer, sit down in front of the keyboard, and type until the buzzer goes off. It doesn’t matter how long the end result is, because you’re measuring in time, not length. And you certainly can’t write a book in fifteen minutes, so that sense of, “Now I am sitting down to WORK ON MY BOOK is gone.” It’s not about MAKING A BOOK, then. It’s just about writing.

    And, most fantastically of all, for two of these three days I have written well beyond my fifteen minute limit. Because most of the time, once I get started (and get past my own self-doubts), it’s easy to keep going. The hard part is getting past those initial anxieties — and telling myself I only _have_ to write for fifteen minutes is a magnificent way to do it.

    This is an awesome challenge. Thanks so much for this!

  12. I’ve been disappointed in the volume of output the last two days, so I tried something different today: I didn’t look up as I wrote. I just let my fingers fly, typos be damned, grammar be damned. And I typed a whole page.

    I am well-pleased with myself. Now I’m going to watch your video and bask in the glow of another 15 minutes done.

  13. I wrote about my character and her memory of having dry cereal in front of Bugs Bunny.

    I know I’ve had many good breakfasts as a child…but my memory kept crawling back to a time of this tension between members of my family…

    It keeps blocking out the good parts.

    I wonder what my Character’s father was like.

  14. I have only spotty memories from childhood (though most are very vivid) – and I can’t seem to remember breakfasts! I remember “breakfasts” as a teenager, hanging outside school drinking coffee (cream, no sugar) and smoking (more like gagging on) a cigarette and thinking I was so cool…

    Plan to get to my daily writing session EARLIER today! The coolest thing that’s been happening is that I am cutting old, formerly “sacred” bits and adding new stuff without blinking an eye. My character’s voice is emerging and taking me in new directions. Very cool!

    Happy writing everyone!

  15. Fifteen minutes turned in to two hours today!

    Childhood breakfast is a mystery to me. One thing I do remember is chomping on cold pizza for breakfast as a teenager when both parents were working. My sister and I just grazed through the fridge on anything we thought tasty. That could have included cold stew or lunch meat without bread for a sandwich. Back then there weren’t microwaves, so heating food meant lighting the stove. That was too much trouble, so we munched on cold food and survived.

  16. I managed 15 minutes today.
    But it came AFTER:
    morning chores
    making my kid practice his cursive writing
    making my kid practice his multiplication table
    making coffee
    cleaning the kitchen
    watching my kid play with the neighbor kids even tho the neighbor kids’ dad was home but he didn’t think he could handle his own 3 plus my 1
    watching all four kids at my house when they came over to play with my son
    adjusting colors on my new blog
    working on a rough draft of a future blog post (and I counted blog posts as WFMAD yesterday but I really want to focus on creating a habit of working on my NOVEL!!!)
    eating lunch
    going to Costco
    dropping my kid off at a friend’s
    putting away Costco
    taking an interrupted nap as my neighbor’s kids came over looking for my son
    getting a snack
    answering questions for my husband regarding our finances
    stressing about writing for a whopping 15 minutes
    getting a glass of water
    stressing MORE
    before FINALLY setting the timer on my phone and just typing.

    Then I had to stop myself from immediately bouncing off to the web to look up the answers to questions that could wait (like what’s a good name for the high school psych teacher? what would be common chapters in a high school psych book?). Instead, I just wrote those questions in [[ double brackets]] so I could do a find on them later.

    In the end, I wrote 1300 new words! Don’t know how long I typed because I forgot to actually touch “Start” on my timer.

    Anyway, I have a WIP, it is a contemporary YA currently at 40K. I want to FINISH THE DANG STORY. My WFMAD will focus on the novel for the rest of the month.

    And I may have to try switching to mornings before everyone wakes up rather cramming writing in the middle of the day. (Things may be easier once school starts again. May…)

  17. I hadn’t thought about this in years. My father used to make me oyster stew for breakfast at 5 am before he’d head off to plow snow! Thanks, Laurie, for bringing this little treasure out of me. I loved doing this project last year and almost missed it this year. When I saw it on Twitter, I sent the challenge out to my writing friends. Alas…I didn’t get mine done the first day, but they did. Now I’m caught up now. I may have to make oyster stew for breakfast tomorrow!

  18. Another great day of WFMAD. I was thinking about how when I started two years ago, I always wrote the prompts that you put. This year it feels different since I am focusing on spending time on my much neglected WIP. It feels so great to make time for it. Yet, I was also thinking about the benefit of the unexpected directions writing can take with the prompts. I just remembered this morning that a big part of my WIP was influenced by one of the prompts the first year you did WFMAD – the one where you encouraged us to write for a children’s book. The theme of the book I thought of for that day has now blended in to the theme of my YA novel attempt. It makes me reflect on the power of writer’s notebooks and the seed ideas they can spark.

  19. Added a much needed scene to a WIP using my breakfast memory as the memory for a character. The funny thing was that until I wrote this scene, I didn’t realize it was needed!

  20. I loved the video, it was really relaxing. The only other thing I need before sitting down to write is a cup of tea. Today I wrote about how I am not going to get into a funk because of my recent break up. I wrote goals and why this was going to be a positive step forward in my life. I am going to throw myself into new passions and be a happier person. Writing it all down was almost as zen like as the stream.
    Thanks Laurie!!

  21. I wrote both day 2 and 3 today because I wanted to challenge myself to write for 30 minutes (and because I fell asleep on the couch with my laptop in my lap last night).
    What I’ve figured out is that the goal of writing a novel is very daunting which is why I haven’t ever just sat down to write for short amounts of time. I’m scared of what I may accomplish and I’m scared of failing. But…how can I not try and fail when I don’t know what it is I’m truly working toward? I need to figure out my goal and passion/intrinsic motivation before I can move on.

    Thanks for this prompt today – made me think of my grandpa making all of his grandkids become members of the CPC (clean plate club). 🙂

  22. Here’s my thing: I have never been a big breakfast eater. I wrote for 15 minutes about eating donuts at my grandma’s house (she always kept them in the freezer and thawed them out the night before), but then I wasn’t feeling that scene too much, so I went back and wrote about eating dinner with my college roommates in the house we shared. I know I romanticize it when I look back, but some of the fondest memories of my life (so far) are from sharing a house with those girls during our senior year of college. Clark Street forever! 🙂

  23. Does anyone else jump about a mile when that timer goes off? I set a timer the past few days just to make sure I was writing the WHOLE fifteen minutes. What I’ve discovered is that I get so absorbed in my writing that I forget completely about the time challenge. That timer rings and startles me; I turn it off and go write back to my thoughts.

    My writing this week has definitely been seeds of memoir. I’m a seventh grade teacher, and memoir is one of the genres we work with, so this is like buy-one-get-one-free.

  24. I so love this…after a long day at the hospital (all is well – just follow-up test for a family member – no worries) and only spending twenty minutes revising while “waiting” – I was hungry to write yet I ripped my permission slip for writing 30 minutes a day into perpetual shreds to pick the vegetables in Dad’s garden, drive my cherub daughter and her friend to play practice (with all writing goodies in bag and ready to write) only to learn they needed parent helpers – mothers ducking under tables, fathers checking their watches and coincidently bolting for the door, grandparents whining “My daughter didn’t mention this? Sorry!” And then home by 9 p.m. to a sink full of dishes that the gremlins must have left since this a.m. since we have been on the road all day. Hmm…toss some hot dogs in the microwave to provide my daughter with a “nutricious” meal while returning phone messages and cooking a freshly picked squash (so glad we worked in the garden with dad). Then to puddy the nail holes in the newly built benches in my daughters fortress…aka “Tween room” And the clock ticks before 11:00 and I found my perpetual scotch tape, carefully and stratigically tape the multitude of permission slip papers into one piece by turning on the computer, logging on to today’s challenge and telling my family “Good night…or else!” An deprived writer…hmmm….not anymore…I have to go – only 45 minutes to “scribble, scribble, scribble” as our fearless leader would say. I’m off….

  25. I’m 3 for 3 so far. I’ve just been journaling to get used to writing again. Eventually, I want to expand some entries into more detailed short stories. I just need to decide what is interesting enough. I don’t think many people would want to read about how I had to get the bottom to a hummingbird feeder I bought a week ago from Wal-Mart without a receipt. They will probably tell stories about me at the Christmas party.

  26. The video was a perfect way to begin the 15 minutes. It led me to write about a scene from my WIP. The time flew away as my timer startled me back to reality. I cannot wait until tomorrow.
    Will have to bookmark the video to watch again. Thanks for the encouragment.

  27. Oh, snort! Nothing like throwing down the gauntlet before me–the one with not a single imaginative cell in my entire body. Nice. “While you’re at it, would you like to give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice in it?” ~Miracle Max

    Thanks, Sista!
    (I ain’t down yet!)

  28. Whew! I just completed 50 minutes of writing. Not fiction, necessarily, but some good fill-in-the-blanks-of-my-memory embellishment. (My mother is going to KILL me! What will the neighbors think?!)

    I think I need to puke…must be doing something right.

  29. Day 3 meant writing late at night again, but I am here, and glad to be taking this time to do something that brings me joy. I ended up rewriting portions of what I wrote earlier, but that’s okay, because knowing that I can rewrite later if I need to takes some of the scariness out of the process. Onward…

  30. Mindi — that is exactly my reaction when the timer goes off, too! Jump three feet in the air, calm down, set down the laptop, walk into the kitchen, turn off the timer … and right back to writing. It’s wonderful. I don’t even mind being so startled by the buzzer — because it’s followed so quickly by a sense of accomplishment. Another day where I met the writing challenge! 🙂

  31. The two things that jumped out at me in your instructions were cold cereal and sneakers on top of the fridge. Since I did not eat much breakfast as a child who was allergic to milk, I decided to do the bonus points and include a character to join me during my fifteen minutes of writing.

    Funny thing happened along the way, BAM, a third character found his way into the scene too. It seemed the struggle I have had of finding characters floated away and these characters found me.

    Wow! I may be thinking about this experience for the rest of the day.

    Thank you so much for sharing your writing experiences too.

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