Write Your Other Decision.

You make hundreds if not thousands of choices every day. We all do. Naturally, this means that they are hundreds of things each day you choose not to do. You didn’t get the Caesar salad for lunch at the cafeteria. (Because you went with soup today.) You’re opted for more sleep this morning, so you didn’t take the earliest commuter train to work. You’re “to-read” pile at this moment is a stack of books that you most recent chose not to read next.

And so on.

Up until the present moment, you know how the decisions you made panned out today. Yet what about all the options you didn’t take?

This is the genre of alternate-history in a nutshell. But you can use it on a micro-level, without writing about an entire new history of the planet. (Unless of course you want to.)

If, however, you’re only looking for a writing exercise to keep sharp, one that comes with a virtually infinite number of prompts, try this: At the end of your day, (or at some other quiet time of same) pick one simple decision you had to make, and write a paragraph or two that describes you making the other choice. Make the narrative cover a few hours of your day.

Of course you may say that you didn’t make any huge decisions today. This isn’t about huge; it’s about cause an effect. It’s about sequence. Stories are essentially an organized sampling of decisions made, and the consequences that result from those decisions, as well as personal responses and reactions to them. When you consider how your choice, your day might have turned out, you’re not only “writing what you know,” (who knows your day  better than you do?) but you are practicing the art of observing and determining how one events leads to another, to another.

Choices. Consequences. More choices. Results. Reactions. You  may not have an award-winning piece of literature in you every single day. Nobody does. Yet you always have what your day could have been as a catalyst for craft.

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