When I visit the Six Minute Story site, I always choose a random prompt. This is like a dice game. I have no idea what Lady Luck will throw my way.
Once the prompt appears, I have six minutes exactly of frantic typing until I am locked out of the text box and can write no more.
Although it is possible to abandon the writing project and choose another prompt, I have never done this. Instead – no matter how odd the prompt – I just start typing away and I see what happens. What I find amazing is the way my unconscious brain takes over and delivers something out of nowhere.
The prompt yesterday was a weird photo of a truck and a construction project of some sort on the edge of a lake. What really threw me was the white writing across the top of the photograph. It was almost too small to read but, after a few seconds of peering, I made out a biblical quotation. I groaned inwardly. The quotation bore no relationship to the photograph. And I am not keen on religious themes. What was I going to do with this?
I set my fingers on the key board and my unconscious brain made some connections. In a flash, I knew what the story was about and how it would end. I also knew that I had to keep the punch line hidden until I reached the close of the story. This is a risky strategy when typing against the clock and I almost ran out of seconds – but my sense of timing has improved and I finished the crucial sentence before the text box locked me out. I even managed a further line at the end.
So what were the connections my unconscious brain made?
- We are having terrible wet weather in the UK this year and there are floods in Devon and Scotland, with flood warnings in other areas of the country.
- The biblical nature of the printed words obviously played a part in my choice of theme, although my final story bears no relationship, as far as I can see, to the literal meaning of the quote.
So here is my latest six minute story – The Cement Delivery.
I am pleased with the story. I managed to include dialogue, intrigue and tension. The idea of inserting the animals came very late and was a stroke of genius by my unconscious brain, for which I take no credit. My only regret is the typo of ‘he wave’ instead of ‘he waved’. I didn’t have time to correct this.
Dorothea Brande, in Becoming a Writer, talks about harnessing the power of the unconscious mind. I guess the Six Minute Story Site is a really good way of unleashing it.