The 100WCGU – how do you write yours?

Every Monday I come and check my Twitter feed at around 8.30pm to see if there is a new prompt for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown-Ups over at Julia’s Place. And every week when I first see the prompt, my first reaction is to say “Oh No! How on earth am I going to write about that?”

I close my laptop in disgust and walk away, thinking “Ah well – I’ll just have to give it a miss this week.” But then a few minutes later a little bit of an idea will creep into my brain, and start dancing around in there, clamouring to be heard, and sending me rushing for a pen and paper.

I always go with my first idea because I know that if I don’t I will forget it, and I never really trust myself to come up with a better idea anyway. The first draft always gets written on paper, and as it’s almost always the last line I come up with first, I tend to write the stories backwards.

I’m pretty good at judging the 100 words, so when draft one is scribbled out, it’s usually the right length, give or take 4-5 words. That’s when I go back to the computer and start on the 2nd draft, editing as I type it up, so that it’s 100 words on the dot in typed up format. Finally I’ll read it through again to see if I am happy with word choice, selecting and rejecting until I’m happy. Then it’s ready to post on my blog and link either the same night or the following morning, depending on whether or not I can stay awake till midnight.

This week was a bit different. It started off the same – I read the prompt, had a sulk about how impossible it was, closed my laptop in disgust….and that’s where the similarities ended. Inspiration didn’t strike that night. Or the next day. The day after that I had a great idea while I was brushing my teeth. I rushed for my pen and paper and scribbled it down. The word count was perfect, the rhythm was right, and so was the rhyme……but then I realised I hadn’t included the prompt words at all!

So there it is – it seems inspiration either comes straight away or not at all. Let’s hope next week is back to normal.

That’s how I approach the challenge. How do you do yours?

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16 Responses to The 100WCGU – how do you write yours?

  1. Bill Dameron says:

    Sally Jayne, I usually have the same reaction as you. “What am I supposed to do with this?” but then, a thought that I have already had in my head will begin to bend into the challenge. So, it’s not really the challenge influcencing a thought, but more the other way around.

    • sjbteaching says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that looks and thinks “What????”. It’s interesting that you have the ideas without the prompt and then mould them to fit. I really need the prompts to trigger the ideas!

  2. Anna Halford says:

    I tend to look at the prompt and snort derisively, grumble a bit and then sleep on it. I type up lots of ideas on the screen or on paper depending where I am, and scrub the ones that are hopeless. If I am really stuck I will have a look at the other entries, but that tends to scare me so I now do mine before looking at any others. Once I have an idea I like I write way too much and have to whittle it to as near the word allowance as possible. I have an ongoing story or two in my head but usually the prompt throws up something new…This seems to work OK for these short challenges; not sure it will lead to that elusive novel though ;S

    • sjbteaching says:

      Ah – the elusive novel. My novel that is going to earn me fame and fortune is writing itself nicely in my head, but trying to get those words on paper? Forget it!
      I also know what you mean about the other entries being scary…. I have to post mine before reading or I’d never have the confidence to post. You don’t need to worry though Anna – you have loads of talent.

      • Anna Halford says:

        That’s very generous of you- but you are too hard on yourself; your writing across a huge range of genres is excellent. I was looking for your entry on the writers bureau…any news?
        I have been commenting on some of the childrens’ 100WC ( I think you are too?) and have been extremely impressed by their quality; there are some which show real flair.

        • sjbteaching says:

          I think you and I are working on the same entries for the children’s 100WC, and I’ve been really impressed! Some of them put us adults to shame!

          The Writers Bureau competition is open for voting till noon GMT on Friday. It’s really close at the moment, and I’m running out of people to ask to vote for me, so I don’t think I really stand a chance – but at least I got short-listed so I’m quite proud of that!

  3. Pingback: William and Joseph | SJB Writing

  4. Andy wts says:

    After gaining this much insight into others inner workings, I should be better prepared for the next challenge. Hmmmmm! Sometimes, inspiration strikes immediately. Other times, its a slog (“Euro meltdown fear” – GRRRRR). I’m far more into dialogue than description, but I’m glad Julia restricts the pieces to 100 words as I have a tendency to overstate so it helps to keep it tight. End almost always comes first, then I craft the buildup to the punchline or event. I tend to go with the first idea as well unless my inner critic tells me “this is pants!”. Then its back to a blank notepad page and a late night. Most of the time, I end up with a piece I need to pare down as I’m not so great at judging the length, and a list of discarded lines and adjectives at the end, which I keep – might come in useful later, never know, maybe in another piece 🙂 Then, and this is why I don’t post first, I sit on it and revisit my piece a day later and revise. Almost always, a line is not right, could be said a better way, could be dropped or inserted at another point. Mostly its just tweaks. Once I think its right, something clicks inside and says ‘That’s how I want others to read it” and its done. Just one thing, you all seem to get the prompt on twitter? Early? I don’t really use twitter as life’s too busy just with a blog and FB to manage tweets as well 🙂 Maybe just to get the prompt … we’ll see.

  5. says:

    When I get an idea, it blossoms out of the challenge, and is usually complete in about fifteen minutes. If it takes me more than a few hours to think of anything at all, I usually won’t get back to it. With the idea, I start typing and refine as I go until the length seems very close. I tend to go about fifteen words over by the word count feature on the computer program I use, so I start whittling. This is the part that I like because it exercises the skill I need most. I’ve been a very wordy writer in the past, using too many words and phrases that don’t add to the piece, and in the end actually take away from it.

    I can show you what I mean with a sample sentence: “He realized in that moment that she’d been lying to him all along.” It might end up like this: “Now her lies struck him.” From 13 words to five, but more important, both sentences say the same thing. The first may come to mind because we’ve all heard it before, but the second calls less attention to itself because it simply imparts the information. I’ll be able to use more words to explain how he feels and why, in another sentence if that’s what I think is important for the story. Of course, I also look carefully at each word like “a”, “and”, and “the” to see if I really need them. This is the part of the challenge I spend the most time on.

    Sometimes I’m at it for a couple of hours, but as long as I like my idea I welcome the practice. Thanks for asking the question and making me think about it!

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