Trust yourself as a writer. Perhaps the most obvious point to consider, but cannot be left unsaid. As writers, of course we have a love/hate relationship with our creative ventures. Is this good enough? Is that too cliché? What if they don’t like it? What if I actually really suck? Hey, I’m kind of good, at least I’m better than that guy. I know better than to use that metaphor. As hard as this task might be, we must trust in what we’re doing. Yes, it might seem crazy at times, but if you don’t trust in yourself as a writer, you’re not going anywhere in this line of work. For example, I’m currently trying break my habit to over-write. I found that if I stop myself from writing that clarifying sentence after that poignant image, I can avoid over-writing. If you feel like it’s “too much,” then it probably is. Trust your gut.
Trust the reader. In high school, we’re taught to assume that the reader knows nothing. Rules that have been drilled into us from our educational upbringings can be hard to break. But listen: if you’re writing literary work, you’ve got to trust readers. For example, if they’re reading this journal or that blog in particular, then they’re probably intelligent enough to understand the subtleties and undertones of your story without your over-explanation. Erase the reader-knows-nothing mentality and replace it with respect and trust. We don’t always think about readers while we are writing, and that’s okay, but when we’re editing, we should keep in mind what they will probably understand or won’t understand.
Trust in the weight of a single word or image. As most of us know, a single word or image can resonate loudly if employed correctly—especially in flash. And since flash has limited space, we must choose the word or image that is going to weigh the most in a reader’s mind. If a word count is breathing down your neck, pick the word or image that conjures the most emotion or thought. For example, say you’re writing a story about the end of a friendship or relationship and at the end of the piece, the main character leaves a location and shuts the door. Leave it at that. Don’t feel the need to sum up what just happened or what life lesson could be learned, or “He shut the door, the door to their friendship.” Clearly, very bad and obvious, but you get the idea.
Trusting is hard, and so is writing flash. Next time you sit down to write a flash, imagine the words forming into open arms, waiting to catch you. Will you take a step back to catch yourself? Or will you let the words you’ve chosen cushion your fall?
FF.Net Author’s Note
Nichole Beard is a graduate of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing program. She received her BA in Integrative Arts from Penn State University where she published articles for a student-run arts & culture journal. She is currently working on her first novel.