Greeting, writers! Julie, here. I’m excited to introduce Monica Flores, a talented storyteller and a great friend. Monica and I met in 2015 through a mutual friend, and about five minutes into our conversation, we discovered we were both writers. Since then, Monica and I have enjoyed many conversations about craft, usually with coffee or tea nearby. I’ve also had the privilege of reading drafts of several of Monica’s projects and am always inspired by her wit, facility with language, skills as an observer of life, and many other talents.
Today, Monica shares her insight into enrumbo, a blogging practice she has developed over the past several months. Because enrumbo helps her find the story in everyday experiences and provides a training-ground for larger writing projects, she hopes other writers can develop their own enrumbo practice.
Here are her experiences and tips!
There are fascinating stories in the mundane, the everyday, the kind that can sharpen a storyteller’s craft. That’s why I started enrumbo, a blog made up of microstories that I write on my daily commutes. enrumbo began as microstories on-the-go that I would text to friends, but it soon grew into a writing practice through which the seemingly dull quotidian act of going from one destination to the next unraveled surprises for a mind yearning for stories. Since I consider enrumbo an exploratory space, it’s where I let the messy flow.
I’m currently working on a few long-length narratives in Spanish and English and dreamed up enrumbo to develop storytelling skills. I post in English, Spanish, and occasionally in Spanglish.
But why do I post microstories, written in a flash, when my goal is to publish polished novel length stories? Beyond finding the subject matter intriguing, I’ve discovered three main benefits of writing microstories while I travel:
#1 – Creative research
From local commutes to international travels, the act of tuning in to the mundane, which some days is a serene ride across a bridge and other days is a hurried walk to the grocery store, can be valuable research for writers, especially when noting the visual backdrops of these places. When writing about these encounters, taking an active listening instead of a passive commuter approach gives sound and texture to local social and cultural issues. In telling enrumbo stories, I’ve seen how local trends and national events impact the ways others tell their stories.
#2 – Personal self-learning practice
Keeping a blog on enrumbo gives me writing practice to explore different writing tones and approaches. When I sense an enrumbo microstory, I pay closer attention to details in conversations and surroundings. Having to tune in during my commutes forces me to become like a camera and recorder. I take notes and photographs on my phone to capture sounds and images. I often re-read my enrumbo posts and ask myself how I can better capture dialogue and descriptions.
#3 – Idea repository
enrumbo is creative research and storytelling practice, but also a way to document my daily interactions for future ideas. These interactions have inspired me to develop a collaborative writing project that explores Miami as a city people escape to, whether they’re midwesterners getting away from the cold or Venezuelans fleeing from food shortages and political upheavals. In the future, I envision expanding a selection of microstories into longer pieces. So when it comes time to start a new major project, I’ll have no shortage of material.
How you can do it
Developing an enrumbo-type practice doesn’t need to take the spotlight away from your primary creative endeavors. You can incorporate an enrumbo-type practice into your daily habits by following these three tips:
- Find a subject matter that is exciting to you. Something that defines you and perhaps tells a story about who you are. Traveling is at the core of my identity. I find the mundane and quotidian parts of traveling exhilarating. This comes from my immigration story and from my nuanced understanding that the space in between connects different worlds. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 miles or 3,000 miles, moving between two points inspires me.
- Select your prefered format to take notes on-the-go for those moments of surprise and inspiration. I recommend note-taking apps that you can use while you’re on the go, such as Notes, Google Docs, or Evernote. Spend a few minutes during the day thinking about your enrumbo–type practice or writing prompt. With time, reflecting becomes an un-scheduled, yet rote, daily habit. Don’t rush your writing practice, but give yourself a deadline. I’ve set my deadline to finishing an enrumbo post no later than three days after an encounter I want to write about.
- Select your preferred format to share your writing, such as microblogging or reading to friends. Apps such as Tumblr or Medium make microblogging easy for an on-the-go writing practice. If you prefer your practice not be so public, find a writing buddy or someone who can occasionally read your practice writing. I feel it helps to have a reader, even if it’s just one, to provide valuable feedback.
Creating a personal practice keeps a writing prompt exercise exciting. My enrumbo practice is like my consistent short runs throughout the year, which feed into longer distance marathon runs. enrumbo trains me to cross the finish line of larger projects.
Do you have a practice similar to enrumbo? Do you want to start one? Share ideas and experiences below!
Also, writers, be sure to visit Monica’s enrumbo blog and stay current on her latest travel adventures and the stories they inspire!