I recently finished a piece of writing that has been plaguing me for months. I’m letting it sit for a few days more before I look at it again and then proceed with the novel’s final section. Whenever I have a work in progress simmer like this I don’t like to write anything resembling it in either form or content.
The day after I closed the file I went out for a walk. I live in a lovely two-river city, in a section of town that is a combination of historic and student housing. When I was walking, one house in particular struck me and when I returned to the desk I devised a writing exercise that has generated a couple flash fiction pieces. I’m not about to share the stories, but I thought I’d share the process; maybe someone else will have some luck too.
  • Pick a house, any house, the older the better.
  • Beginning with the first occupants, write a brief history of the house, devoting only a paragraph or so to each family or business or such that occupied the house for a period of time
  • Pick one of those occupants and write a story, also working in a physical attribute of the house and one object from within the house.
  • Repeat for another later or earlier occupant.
It was a nice way to clear my head of the novel that’s preoccupied me for so long.