Practice your craft with throw-away work

It’s liberating. It’s easy. It’s going to pay dividends.

Brig Berthold


Photo by Thomas Franke on Unsplash

You don’t have to care.

Let me say that again. You don’t actually have to care about what you’re working on. So many times I am debilitated by caring far too much about what I’m writing, how it will be received, who it may offend, and so on. This is particularly true when I’m writing fiction; I don’t know why. The truth is, none of that matters until you publish.

Production does not equal publication.

Some of my favorite writing is careless and whimsical.

“I’m going to write a scene wherein a girl goes to a bar hunting for a one-night-stand. Her external goal is sex. Her internal motivation is filling a void left by a recent divorce, or maybe she plans to kill the partner, who cares!” he told himself, feeling the onset of his latent, maniacal god complex.

Take that idea. For real, I want you to steal it.

Establish her decision to go out (beginning). Illustrate the awkward greeting. Show the other character’s surprise at finding such a willing partner (middle). Paint the aftermath. The walk of shame the next morning or the mess of bloody sheets where she slept soundly all night beside her victim (end).

You make the rules.

Write between 1,500 and 3,000 words, knowing you would edit that down in post-production. But shoot for that as practice. I say “would” edit it because nobody says you have to. Don’t even put that much pressure on yourself. You can practice your editing later. Now, we write!

If you strike gold, edit it. If it’s great, publish it. Nobody cares. Just force yourself to get better with none of the pressure. If you publish that story, tag me in it so I can read it! I’d love to support you in that.

In the end, the motion is important. This is a way to get in your reps. Do a bit of staging. Have a beginning, middle, and end. Show don’t tell. And change the value charge of each scene.

Some other things I suggest you play with:

A fight scene
A death
New love
Lost love
A sex scene
Heavy dialog
Nothing but stream-of-consciousness
A scene that expands and



Brig Berthold

I am a father, widower, and veteran. Co-host of the Baseball Together podcast and author of Sidekick: A Pregnancy Field Guide for Dudes.