As stated on my profile page, sometimes I write which means that most times I don’t. In fact, I would admit that, for the longest of time, I stopped writing. The dates which I put at the end of my finished works are proofs to this. If, right now, you could go through my archives you’d notice that October wasn’t in the chair anymore (my science-fiction short story which got rejected by every sci-fi editor in France) was finished on August of 2012, after that there’s a five years hiatus until the 16th of march 2017, the date at which I wrote a short story called the Day Ulricht left.
Since Ulricht, I’ve written fourteen short stories, you could add to this a bunch of scenarios (6 to be precise, four of them being one-hundred-pages long). So how did I do that? Said in a Steve Urkel voice.
During those four, five years, I became a gaffer, tried to get my foot up in the cinema business and to this day, I remember distinctly one time, one discussion I had with Ahmed Hafiene while taking him to the airport at the end of a short film I was PA on. I said I wrote and his eyes just lit. “You write?” he said. “Sometimes, well not anymore” I admitted. Ahmed, he just looked past the passenger’s window, past the traffic, past everything. “I used to write” he said “You should never stop writing; you lose the habit”. He then went on to explain to me that when he moved to Italy, some people working with him didn’t believe enough in him, that he used to think he couldn’t make it. Ahmed, this Tunisian actor who mostly stars in Italian movies, he smiled and added “When I got my first award, those people came back to me, begging to get on the train. What I mean is, you never stop writing, even if it’s shit, even if you get spat on. If you can write, you write, everything at some point will come together.” When I got him to the airport, right before shaking my hand, Ahmed’s last words were: “And you write, ok?” Of course, I would write after this, this show of faith.
But I never did. This discussion, I had it in 2014, 2015 at most, scared the hell outta me. I promised myself to write and I never did because, I don’t know, life? Financial problems? Everything?
At this point of the article, you’re wondering what’s the tip is and where I’m headed with all this ; some of you may even be seated, yelling at their computer “Well, I never meet actors who put some faith in me while not even knowing me for a second, man !”. And I get it, this article isn’t about Ahmed, this article is about jump-starting your writing habit, like an old car you’d push down a slope.
You see those “CAPTION THIS” images, publication sometimes post on their social media pages? This is what helped me get back on track. There was this post from Weird Tales, once, in my Facebook feed a lone person walking away from the camera on a railroad track. The post read something along the lines of: What would it be about if this was an illustration for a short story? I read the post, deeply thinking. Would I write a short story about this? Not something I’d try to sell, just some sort of flash fiction. Here’s an image, I could write a short story about it, in one single long draft, I’ve got to have it done before I go to bed. To me, the deal was okay, if the story happened to be one or two pages long. And this is how The Day that Ulricht left came to be.
It was not my greatest work, and maybe, one day, I’ll post it on here, but still it revived me. I wrote some heavy fiction, heavily worded talking about the teenage-hood I once had and lost, some kind of stoner Stand by me written by an adult who was not-so-young anymore. Still, it gave me this habit. Every time I see a CAPTION THIS picture, I try and write a flash fiction.
This is a promise I made to myself, and I find interesting the lack of control that’s inherent to it. Those are solitary exercises, some are worthless, some are quite good. In fact, the only time I actually posted one of those underneath its CAPTION THIS post, it quickly became the second most liked comments which was kind of an extra boost, I admit.
So here we are, you got the single tip from an unpublished writer you could get. A little something to hijack your brain, force you to sit at least one hour, write something tangible. I really do hope you try it, if you haven’t written in a while. This is just about you and yourself. No one has to know.