So first of all, what is a small stone? Well basically it is an observation, a moment of awareness captured, condensed and polished into a few words. I like to define it as something short enough to physically fit on a small stone, though some may turn out to be a tight fit and require a stone of larger proportions!
I came across them first when I discovered Fiona’s blog “A Small Stone” at http://asmallstone.com/ and it’s companion blog “A Handful of Stones” at http://ahandfullofstones.com/. When Fiona instigated the first January challenge, to write a small stone every day for a month I decided to join in the fun, so I set up my own blog “By The Wobbly Dum-Dum Tree” at http://bythewobblydumdumtree.wordpress.com/, joined The River (http://ariverofstones.blogspot.com/) and I have been writing a daily stone pretty well every day ever since.
I think of writing small stones as being rather like a musician practising their scales (though I have to say, having practised scales, that writing small stones is considerably less boring). Writers need to be looking all the time to find original ways of describing every-day happenings. Small stones are a wonderful way of doing this; they are short, to the point and don’t take very long to write, although they can sometimes be elusive and hard to find. Whether you find your stones along the way, as Fiona suggests, or by daily observations from your porch (see Dave Bonta’s blog “The Morning Porch” at http://morningporch.com/) is not important.
The trick is not to feel guilty if you can’t find one, don’t try too hard and you might find something will just jump up and grab you. There are many times when I have given up on finding one only for one to find me when I have gone off to do something else. Don’t expect every small stone you write to be a perfect little gem, it probably won’t be but it doesn’t matter. When you do find one that you are really pleased with, enjoy the moment.
To me, writing small stones is a rewarding daily exercise. There are of course other things one can do to serve the same purpose. Many writers like to write ‘Daily Pages’ and this is something I also used to do. Unfortunately, over time I found this exercise was just not helping my creativity; it was time for a break. Once I began writing stones I discovered a more creative means of expression so I gave up on the pages. If they work for you all well and good and I don’t rule out returning to them one day.
There are, of course, many simple exercises recommended to help your creativity, but for me nothing quite matches up to writing small stones. They are more than just an exercise, they lift you up into the poetic, speak to your soul.
There are no rules on how to write them, but if you want some hints on how to go about it check out http://wtitingourwayhome.com/p/small-stones.html. Small stones can take any form, prose, short poems, free verse or recognised poetic forms such as Haiku (see Freya’s Pure Haiku blog at http://purehaiku.blogspot.com/) or even Limericks. They can be on any subject you wish. If you so choose they can drift off into the realms of fantasy or even horror, they can be serious or amusing. All sorts of small stones are out there just waiting to be found.
One of the best aspects of writing small stones is sharing them with others. By writing your small stones on a blog such as this, or at the “Writing Our Way Home” Forum (http://writingourwayhome.ning.com/), on Facebook or on Twitter, you become part of the friendly small stone writing community where you will find there are many others also polishing their daily stones.
Reading the stones that other people have written is an additional bonus as I notice how they have treated a similar subject. Their interpretation and the imagery they use helps to open my mind, provide other ways of seeing things and inspire my own creativity. Once I have posted my own stone for the day I usually try to spend some time visiting other people’s blogs and reading their stones.
Check out some of the links I have included here to enjoy some of these little gems. There are far too many other interesting blogs to list, but on my own “Wobbly Dum-Dum Tree” blog I have a page dedicated to such links. By checking out these sites you will find still more links to investigate. To start you off try “A Stream of Small Stones” (http://claudiastones.blogspot.com/), “Trail Mix” (http://jeanstrailmix.blogspot.com/), or “a gnarled oak” (http://gnarledoak.org/), maybe you’ll discover one or two that you haven’t looked at before and find that they ‘speak’ to you.
Writing small stones is addictive; it is my guilty pleasure and far less fattening than chocolate. If you are not already doing so, why not come and join the fun?