Monday, 11 February 2019

Just Write Something

Before Christmas, I was in a bit of a writing frenzy. I was trying to write two short stories and I had deadlines for both.

In the midst of all the editing I ground to a halt with one of my stories. I had to do a whole lot of work on the structure of it.

Structure in stories is the part that I struggle with the most.

I knew what I had to do, thanks to my frantic reading of books on structure. It was going to be hard work.

With Christmas holidays looming and all the craziness that comes with the end of the school year I felt I couldn’t concentrate. I didn’t have the mental energy to continue ploughing through.

Around about the same time a competition popped into my inbox. It was connected with a cooking blog that I subscribe to.

In twenty-five words or less they wanted me to tell them which recipe I would make out of their newly released cookbook and why. The prize was phenomenal and all I had to do was conjure up a creative way of talking about food!

Surely I could handle twenty-five words or less. It was easier than juggling five thousand words.

I scribbled and doodled in my notebook and came up with a rhyming ditty about a recipe, its ingredients and why I would make it – perfect. I sent it off and then sat down to work on structure.
In the next three weeks I sent off four more ‘twenty-five words or less’ explanations of recipes in between slogging it out with my story.

These little snippets of writing were fun, they were short and they kick started my writing again. I was reminded that in the midst of the bog of structural edits I still loved writing.

I didn’t win the competition but I had lots of fun trying and my story was structured to within an inch of its life.

So, I learnt something.

Knowing that I could write twenty-five words or less and be clever and creative about it gave me the boost I needed to continue polishing my five thousand words.   

Linsey Painter loves to write stories that draw on her rich heritage of growing up overseas. Her children’s stories focus on growing young hearts, challenging assumptions and exploring courage in the face of life’s difficulties. Linsey’s stories are drawn from real life and imaginative fantasy adventures. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect and sometimes we need to be brave and find out how to love and trust again. Through her stories Linsey shows that joy and beauty are everywhere even when life is difficult. Linsey lives in Cairns with her husband and two lively boys.


  1. Hi Linsey, thanks for this post. It would have been great if you'd won the prize, but you gained a bit of wisdom, which is arguably just as good, if not better 😉 I've stalled a bit on book output in recent years, but have still written loads of articles, lists and reviews. You've given me encouragement to lift the pen on those bigger projects again.

    1. Hi Paula, thanks for your comment. It would have been amazing to win the prize :) though I'm not sure I would have had room in my kitchen for all the loot. Hope you can get stuck into those bigger projects soon and find great satisfaction in finishing them!!

  2. Hi Linsey, thank you so much for this! Very encouraging as I struggle to focus in my attempts to write my mum's story. Think I need to take your advice and try some fun writing to get the creativity back again!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I'm so glad you found the post encouraging. All the best with your mum's story and your fun writing :)

  3. Love to hear of the fun you had writing those different loots of twenty-five words, Linsey! I write a blog each week of around 550 words to keep me writing and as a good discipline to be more succinct, even though I haven't had time this past year to get back to my current novel. So I agree that writing shorter pieces is important in all sorts of ways.

  4. Hi Jo-Anne, thank you for your comment. I really admire you for writing a blog post each week, that is commitment! Hope you are able to get stuck back into your novel at some stage.

  5. Thanks Linsey...yes just write something is good advice!! I love that the competitions were motivators for you, me too.
    I have a folder for 'just write something' often they turn into a bloggish something, which is good.

  6. Hi Di, I agree competitions are great ways to get us all writing. It's a great idea to save your writing, you never know when it might come in handy. :)

  7. Thanks for your very helpful insights, Lindsay. I don’t always swap focus very well, so I’m inclined to stick to a piece till it’s done - or so I thought. But your blogpost has made me realise that even those pauses when I write a Facebook comment, send a friendly text message, or write in a quirky birthday card add to the sum total of creative writing breaks that help to keep me sane. Who knows, one day you might write a story about cook book contestant’s contagious enthusiasm. 😉 And win a prize. 😄