Often when writing I like to restrict myself in different ways. Sometimes my restrictions will be to do with characters, how many people I want to have appear in the story, what kind of people etc. Sometimes it will be to do with time. How long to I want this story to be? Sometimes it will be to do with locations; what locations, how many locations and so on. There can be any number of ways I try to give myself restrictions during writing.
I do this for a couple of reasons (sometimes it's just sort of fun), but mainly it's because I find it often helps me to stumble upon concepts and ideas that I perhaps wouldn't have been able to come across if it weren't for the restriction.
For example; when I was writing the short story Junk Mail (it's the second story in my collection of short stories, He Was Dead, and you can buy it on Amazon here) I decided to see if I could write a story told entirely through e-mail. Whether or not you think the outcome was good is up to you, but I found it lead me down an interesting route that I probably would have never explored if I hadn't tried to write it in that way.
Similarly my short film Trapped (you can view it on YouTube here), in which I attempted to tell a story that took place entirely inside a car.
I do it all the time, sometimes it's not as clear and sometimes it is, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it's always a fun little experiment, and I like to try and explore different avenues as and when I can.
Recently I've found myself trying to come up with new and interesting ways of restricting myself. These sorts of "writing prompts" I guess you'd call them are often useful for me, and it's always good to try new things.
This has lead me down a path to a new medium altogether. I've done a lot of film, and I've done a few short stories, I've done the one stage-play and theatre is something that I'm desperate to return to as soon as possible, but outside of my podcast - which isn't scripted and is basically just some friends and I talking about movies - I've never really explored audio.
The concept of audio plays intrigues me. Armed only with sounds, how do you tell a story that's engaging, thoughtful, interesting, has likeable or fun characters and offers up something new without being gimmicky or jumping the shark.
I think I've stumbled onto something with this, so I'm going spend sometime writing a collection of audio-plays - what I do with them afterwards is anyone's guess, but that's another thing entirely. It's always fun trying new things.
So, keep an eye out - or rather an ear - for an update on this one in the near future. I'm curious to see what happens, and hopefully this will lead to something relatively soon.