Alongside the exercises we’ve been doing on writing with constraints as part of the Experimental Writing module, I’ve been inspired by some of the writing exercises that Nikki Young has found and Maddy at WritingBubble has been doing too. Here’s an attempt at a 10-1 story: 10 words on the first line, 9 on the second and so on. I struggled most with the single word at the end – I wanted a 1 word sentence rather than a sentence split over two lines! 10 to 1 “I don’t feel appreciated, you never notice what I do.” “I always notice, even if I don’t say anything.” “So, why don’t you say thank you? Ever?” “I’m grateful, really I am.” “Would you notice if I left?” “Of course I would, love.” The laundry mounted up. Dishes went unwashed. She left him. And an A-Z story, staring each sentence with the following letter of the alphabet. A to Z As she walks down the street she plans her day. Both boys had been fractious, and her sleep had been broken. Coffee is the first thing on her agenda. Depositing the boys at nursery had been a relief. “Escape,” she thinks, cup in hand, but she turns towards home. For a second she isn’t a mother, isn’t due back at midday. God knows who thought two and a half hours of funded childcare was enough to do anything. Hurrying down the street, she flings open the front door, slams it shut and throws off her coat. Ignoring the dishes, the laundry, she opens her notebook. Just enough time, she thinks, as she glances at the clock. Knowing herself, she doesn’t open the computer, doesn’t log on to a virtual world of tempting ways to waste the morning. Leaving her phone in her coat pocket means she’s less likely to be interrupted, too. Mind blank, pen in hand, she stares at the page. No idea what to write, again. Precious moments slip by as she procrastinates. Quite some time back she realised that mother-writer was uncomfortable, impossible. Rarely could she wait for the muse to strike. She has to write now. These hours are it. Under two hours, she notes as she glances at the clock, and not one word on the page. Very often, she struggles for inspiration in the first hour, hour and a half. When twelve o’clock comes, though, when she should be racing down the road, her pen is usually racing across the paper. X, y,z, a, b, c, she doodles random letters, waiting for the words to emerge. Yesterday’s story mocks her, seems flat as she looks back at it for inspiration. Zooming on her way to nursery again, late again, she thinks about the words she finally managed to write, the speed with which they escaped from her pen when the block released, and how she can make more time to write tomorrow.