So, what's a chain story? A chain story is when two or more people get together and go back and forth, adding bits to a story. Each person could write one sentence, one paragraph, or even one page (or more, if people are so inclined to attempt a chain novel).
This isn't to be confused with collaboration, though. Collaborating with another writer on a story or a novel is something that takes a lot more thought and planning. Chain stories take no planning at all! They are very in the moment.
Why write something that is so unplanned and spontaneous?
First, getting together with a group of friends and seeing how a story unfolds when you have to continue from the previous person's addition is just plain fun. Heck, if you have a bunch of writers at a party, it might actually be a great game to play. Most of the chain stories I participate in tend to end up humorous--it makes the stories more fun and off the wall. Lots of laughs all around.
Second, it teaches you how to think (er...write) on your feet. You need the story to still make sense from one entry to the next, and you have no clue what the person before you is going to write until she writes it. This pressure to come up with something on the spot is even harder if you time each person's turn. If you're doing it via e-mail, you can say, allow a day between each response, even less if you're writing the story in a chat or if everyone is together in the same room!
Third, it can get the writing juices flowing. If you're having some issues with Writer's Lack of Motivation (or Writer's Block, but I don't believe in that now, nope, no such thing) writing chain stories with others could just be enough of a push to make your fingers itch to work on your own writing. Like stretching before a run--it gets the blood flowing.
Don't be shy to ask some friends to join in writing a chain story with you. You may even come away with new ideas for your current or a future work in progress.
Music effects people in different ways--it can be an emotional experience for some. For me, music has always been connected to my writing. Certain songs inspire images that come alive in my mind. A kernel of a story can blossom from a melody or lyrics. For short stories, I usually play a song or two on repeat that I feel has the mood of what I'm writing. Novels, I create an entire soundtrack.
I know, not everyone uses music in their writing, but I still suggest trying the following exercise. If anything, it will get you in touch with the emotion you need to infuse in your writing.
Pick two songs. One should be slow, without words--a classical song would likely be a good choice. The other should have more of an edge to it, can have words, be more fast paced--an alternative rock song, for example. If you do not own any of these styles of music, there are many options for radio stations on the internet.
First, listen to the classical song, and write. It doesn't matter what you write about. There doesn't need to be a plot or even a character. Let the sound of the music wash over you and write something that reflects how you currently feel. Keep going until the end of the song. Next, listen to the alternative rock song, and do the same thing. Allow the music to worm its way into your bones and release those emotions out onto the page.
Now, you have two starts (or maybe middles or ends) of something. Take a close look and compare the two. Did you have a different emotional reaction to each song? Your words should represent the mood you felt when listening to those songs.
If you can see a difference, then you've discovered a way to get yourself into a certain frame of mind depending on what you're writing. Even if you can't write to music, you can always listen to it right before you dive into that novel or short story to get your emotions percolating.