I’ve set up a little routine for getting my slow, authorial brain started in the mornings. I have a file listing the 6,000 most frequently used words in modern English. I draw a random sample of 20 from the list and then force myself to write a short story using all those 20 words, in the same order that the random sampler lists them.
Usually 20 minutes work will convert my 20 words into a 200 word short story. It’s no surprise that most of the stories are pretty useless, but the exercise has at least got my writing cells going. So I junk the little random fragment and – brain switched on now – I turn to more serious work.
The odd thing is that sometimes the story is promising and I can work it up into something much more valuable than a mere exercise.