Site-Wide Activity

  • Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! […]

    • I succeeded in my NaNo goals for the first time and actually won. *party favor noises* So November worked out great (except for sickness at the end, boo!).

      This month I’m going to take it easy. I’m starting out the month sick, which is not the best time for writing, and with all the holiday plans we’ve got as a family, I need some time away from constant writing to just relax. I’ve still got a few fic exchanges I need to work on, so I’m going to focus on those before anything else.

    • Hi, all,

      For November, I planned a rebel-Nanowrimo: writing and editing 3 (maybe 4) short stories for upcoming submissions, varying in length from 1000 to 10,000 words. This sort of worked out. The 1000 word flash fiction piece was written, edited, and submitted (and is, right now, on a contest website to vote on). The 10,000 word story has a complete draft that I’ve gone through it once, but it needs some more editing before submission. One other story is over half-done. Not quite as much I had hoped, but the long story ended up needing a lot more thinking time to work out plot and character issues than I had anticipated. So, overall I am happy with the amount of time I spent on the stories.

      For December, I’m going to finish the two unfinished stories above and go back to my novel (which I thought about a good deal during November, including building a playlist/soundtrack :-)).

      • Hey! Just yesterday, I posted my playlist/soundtrack for the novel I’m working on! Great minds…

        I’m seeing a theme in these posts this month: how to balance it all?

        Sounds like you’re making progress though. I do think sometimes time away from the novel (with thinking) can be beneficial, but I tend to find I need to then plunge back into it until I burn through all those scenes/thoughts and come to another sticking point.

        Where’s your story? Where can we vote?

    • I totally relate to your issues about balancing novel and short story writing! I have been going through the same thing for the last year. I totally lose momentum on the novel when I take time off from it. On the other hand, I think there can also be some benefit in allowing ideas to percolate in one’s mind over time.

      As I said elsewhere in this thread, I spent November working on short stories, but I was thinking about aspects of my novel. I still have some work to do on a couple of stories, but this month is back to serious novel editing and I’ve spent yesterday and today re-orienting myself. So, no solution, but sympathy!

    • I lost my Swagr last month! I hope it’s not too late to get in for December. 🙂

      November was pretty busy for me. I did a NaNo rebel run (one novella and a bunch of short stories) and broke my 50k-word goal, which is more than I have ever written before in a month. That’s the good bit. The bad bit is that a lot of it stinks and needs editing. Besides, I didn’t manage to finish my novella.

      My goals for December then will be:
      – Finish the novella, give it a quick edit and get it in front of a beta reader
      – Do some thinking and decide what my priorities will be in 2018.

      I’ve been following Julie’s advice from October and journaling about my writing goals lately. Let’s see what comes out of that.

      • I’m with you on the ‘thinking and priority-setting’ for this 2018. My podcasts will be about that, this month.

        Does it feel good to have completed work, even if it is “stinky”? Did you benefit from forging ahead and getting words down?

    • I think this sounds like a good plan, and I certainly relate to the urge to do lots of different things. But your novel goals are working, so stick with it! And you’re throwing in a single short story to keep you fresh. Good luck!

    • I did not meeting my word count goals for my novel in November, but it was stupidly optimistic, given all else I had going on, and the good news is that I wrote more than I would have, otherwise, and broke a few sticking points in the story so I’m pretty happy. I did fufill my other commitment, which was to catch up on the online training I was doing.

      My December goals are:

      * Research write and submit article under contract (by Dec 18)
      * Podcast & blog weekly
      * Write 16000 words on — and finish— the novel (this is a stretch goal, but it could happen.

      We have a quiet Christmas break planned, so I’m hoping to sneak a lot of fiction into the early mornings after the article is done.

      Good luck all!

  • This story comes from the 2017 collection of Daniel Alarcón’s stories The King Is Always Above The People.

    I picked up the collection because I saw it on a ‘recommended reading’, highlighting n […]

  • This week I talk about ways to make your life easier by embracing the idea of decision-making, both in your writing and in your writing practice.

    You can read a (slightly altered) version of this, […]

  • There is still time left this year to meet some of your goals. The question is which ones?

    You probably had a list of projects you wanted to write this year, and there are only two possibilities […]

  • For all you NaNo novelists out there, deep in the belly of a fast-written novel, I have a suggestion for a way to revitalize your writing and your excitement about your project. For everyone (else?) I talk about […]

  • Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! […]

    • It IS hard to resist the lure of NaNoWriMo! Good luck!

      Well done on your October achievements.

    • That’s fabulous! Well done, you.

      I love the idea of a thread to connect all your stories. It’s a great way to keep yourself entertained and to intrigue readers. Good luck!

    • Well, October went really well for me. I wrote 750+ words every day, wrote two chapters for a short story, and finished 29 fanfics!

      This month is NaNo, and since I’ve never been good at doing a single project, this time I’m splitting it up into a few projects. I’ll be doing a lot of fandom exchanges these next few months, so I’ll be working on those with my goal to hit 50,000 words total of everything. That feels much more manageable after last month, so yay!

    • I’m late posting my SWAGR Goals for November, and today promises to be another crazy day, so I hope you’ll pardon my brevity.

      I will write 396 words a day toward the completing my novel’s first draft. Met my October goals and have written close to 31,000 words total on my novel.

    • OK, here’s my plan for November:
      1. Write an average of 1059 words/weekday on the current novel and finish it (this is already off the rails on Day 2, but that’s because I had some planning to do. I’m expecting to fly through the word count tomorrow. That’s why I made it an average.)

      2, Catch up with and keep up with the online training I’ve been doing. I have two courses overlapping, which was bad planning, but I didn’t set the schedule and both were great opportunities. Incidentally, if you’re struggling at all with novel writing and want a good guide, check out Jerry B. Jenkins’ Your Novel Blueprint course.

      3, Write a 1st draft of a Christmas story (this is a bit of a stretch goal, but I really do want to make it happen).

      4, Plan my new big, secret, non-fiction project. (Gulp, but this also ties in with #2, and I want to have this ready to roll out in mid-December.)

      OK, well, that focuses the mind. I seem to think I can do an awful lot more with my 7:30-3 workday than I usually achieve. But these goals will force me to at least try to keep those hours for my prioritized work and resist doing family/house support stuff at least during most of those hours. Maybe.

    • Hello fellow writers,

      For October, I wanted to throw out submissions and as a result, had 3 poems published on three different online literary journals and blogs. Hooray! I also, wrote a few flash fiction pieces and did a rough outline for Nanowrimo.

      Goal for November is to complete 3 short stories + 1667 words per day for NaNoWriMo, which should result in at least 50K words of Book 1 of my YA Fantasy Trilogy!
      I also want to submit at least 2-3 short stories this month (I’ve only been submitting poetry so far).
      Since I am going down to a part-time job, I will have more time to write this month 🙂

  •  Writing the first line of your story is tough. Opening lines must:  Set up the main question the reader is going to be asking all the way through Establish the voice of the protagonist/narrator Set the tone G […]

  • Get the full report here

    Opening lines are hard to write because they have to do so much:

    What Opening Lines Must Do:

    Set up the main question the reader is going to be asking all the way through […]

  • A few days ago, I commented on a Twitter post about a hot-button issue. I don’t normally do that, but I thought I was making a neutral, expanding-the-argument kind of comment.

    You can tell where this is going […]

  • I’m currently fascinated by a short story experiment being run by Penguin Random House.

    They’re running a series called “The Season of Stories”. You subscribe, and they send you a story every week.

    But […]

    • As a writer of stories and poetry, the idea of writing a long-form work has rattled around my creative soul for years. This process sounds like a neat way to “baby-step” into that deep end of the literary pool. Thanks, Julie. I’m going to give it a go.

      • Joe, you’re a genius! You’ve just shown me that this prompt is a potential warm-up exercise for all those nervous first-time NaNoWriMo folks out there!

        I have found that story structure is the most challenging part of writing a longer work. It’s not something that was stressed in any of my literature classes (they were all about the pretty words and deep ideas). I’ve had to discover the power of story structure as an adult writer. This is my attempt to save other people from getting lost in the muddy-middle of a longer work and giving up before they get to the end.

        Let me know how you get on!

  • Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! […]

    • Hi writers,

      My big writing goal for October is finishing my dissertation. If I have bandwidth to spare, I will be gearing up for NaNoWriMo 😀


      • Sending good vibes and lots of focus your way for the dissertation. I’m sure that feels overwhelming, but imagine how awesome you’re going to feel when you hand it in!!

        Only a writer would think “NaNoWriMo might make a nice vacation after my dissertation…” 😉

    • My plan for this month is to write at least 750 words every day. I’ve got a couple of fic exchanges to do, plus I’ve started on a new mystery, so that’s been exciting. I’m going to use this to gear up for NaNo, so even if I don’t get the total wordcount, I’ll still be getting close to it.

      • Smart plan. I’m finding my natural daily rhythm has me producing 1300 words before I feel like taking a break. Not enough to fulfill a NaNo writing day, but if I can get those 1300 words done, and then come back later in the day, it grows.

        Breaking the back of that first 750 words is a great way to get ready.

        Do you have a novel idea yet? And will you set aside the new mystery?

        • Nice!

          I don’t really have one planned yet. I’m thinking about leaving the mystery alone until November, but if I suddenly get an idea for it, I’m going to go ahead with it before I forget.

    • Well, I wrote every day in Sept – some of those days were poetry. Now, I plan to revise at least one or two of the stories I wrote and submit them to a couple contests. I’m also going to go back and listen to the podcasts I missed in Sept. I picked up an Alice Munro book at a used book sale, so I’ll be doing some reading too.

      • Well done, Candace!
        Isn’t it lovely to have a bank of stories you can revise and slot into submission calls?

        Glad to hear you’re reading and catching up on podcasts too.

    • I write almost every day poetry. Short and sweet :). I need to get ready for NaNoWriMo and I plan to prepare the plan of the novel. The idea is older, but will pick it up again and draft the main characters and the action plan on how I want to achieve the word count.
      I will still write poetry :), which I always publish on my insta or fb accounts @AmanitaByNight .

      • I love it that you’re writing little complete works almost every day. Keep up the good work!

        Going from poetry to NaNo-Noveling seems like quite a jump, but maybe it isn’t. Do you find the constant creativity helps with the longer works?

        I’d love to hear more about your action plan to achieve the word count.

    • Oh Dan, I sooooo sympathise. I had this scattered, do-it-all urge for years.

      Something that has helped me streamline is to figure out what my long-term goals are. Do I want to continue to grow StoryADay? Do I want to become well-known in my niche? Do I want to hunker down and write novels? Do I want to get short stories published (by other people)?

      Since, of course, the answer to all of those is ‘yes’, I have to focus on the next few years, or even the next 18 months.

      Once I prioritized those things, it became much easier (though not entirely easy) to see where I should be focusing my time and what steps I should be taking to push forward the projects that matter most to me at the moment. I’m also keeping in mind, where I’d like to be in 6 years (the year my younger kid leaves school!). When I sit down to work, I can do things simply because they entertain me, but I’m also more likely to knock out the things that are on my priority list first.

      If you’re going to make serious progress in any area, you need to pick one or two, perhaps areas that are complimentary and that don’t feel like a grind when you settle down to do them. Stick with them for 2-3 months. Let the other stuff go for now. And maybe, in a couple of months you’ll realise that you picked the wrong ones; that they DO feel like a grind and you have come to dread doing the work you’ve set yourself. And you know what? That’s OK. Re-target and resume. Better to make a switch two months from now than to flutter about among all of them, depending on your mood that day. (Ask me how I know…)

      So my assignment for you this month, if you’re willing to accept it, is this: rather than committing to the tasks on your list, do some serious journalling, planning and thinking about your GOALS. Think about where you want your writing to be in 18 months (thinking longer-term, at this point, gets a bit pie-in-the-sky but you can certainly do some of that too).

      Then, decide on what you will commit to doing, in one or two areas by the end of the year. Even if that commitment means slacking off on some of the other things on your list. Put those things on a “revisit these next April” list (or whatever works for you).

      And seriously, give yourself a couple of months to focus on your top priorities before you make any changes. Don’t zig-zag and change things up more often than that.

      Remember, there’s no rush. Every piece of writing you do will teach you something.

      What do you think?

    • I love your updates, Monique. They are always inspiring.

      I’m currently shying away from revising a novel, myself. I wonder if I need to sign myself up for a course to force me to make time for it…

      And ah, the annual “will I or won’t I” of NaNoWriMo. I’m fairly sure I won’t, but I did enjoy it the couple of times I took part. Maybe I’ll put it on the schedule for next year…

      Good luck with your plans!

    • Oo, Martin, lots of meat in this post. You’ve got the cogs in my brain turning.

      We should definitely talk…

    • Lisa, congrats on getting that story published! And good for you, for continuing to look for a home for the other one.

      A scene a day does seem ambitious, given that we often need time for research and thinking. But it sounds like just having the goal has helped you make progress.

      Is your 390 words a day an average number over the week/month, or do you make yourself write everyday? I know different strategies work for different people (some people find it easier to write every single day, so there’s no negotiation, where others are happy if they hit the average in a month). I’m always curious to know how people approach this.

      Good luck with your October goals!

    • Hmm, it’s Oct 6 and my goals for the month haven’t crystalized yet. Bad, Julie!

      Last month I turned out a stack of 100 word stories as promised and have been posting some of them on Instagram, which is fun. I’m going to try to keep that up at least once a week, this month, because it gets me jazzed about writing and sharing my work. So much of this is about confidence and belief in ourselves. This is something I do that makes me feel good about my writing. So I should continue that.

      * I’m focused on running the October Critique Week group next week. It’s always inspiring to critique other people’s writing, so I’m looking forward to that. But between that and an impending family visit, there might not be a huge amoutn of time for short story writing.
      * I’m committed to turning out a new chapter of the work-in-progress novel for my IRL critique group to see, next week, and then another before the end of the month. I’m going to try to get to my 10,000 words of fiction goal.
      I need to plan my writing goals for the next 3 months and the next 18-24 months. I have some ambitious things in mind, that will need plans.
      * I have so many ideas about what I’d like to do around short fiction. I pledge to think about them and decide on my strategy, and a plan for the next few months.
      * I’m going to keep writing fiction first thing in the morning, because that is working so well for me. I have a tendency to find something that works and then think “Oh well, I’m cured! I obviously don’t need to stick to that thing that works, anymore!”. So I’m going to NOT engage in that insanity, this month 🙂

    • Love it! And thanks for expanding on how StoryADay helped with your process. I find the same thing, but you’ve expressed it beautifully. I feel sooooo much better when I’m writing, and it gets easier the more you do (even if the actual writing itself isn’t easy)

      I’m also a fan of the arbitrary goal. It’s better than no goal at all.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • AnyMousse posted an update in the group Group logo of The Victory DanceThe Victory Dance 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Posted this for an update on my profile, but going to post here as well. I did participate this year, though I only logged into the site a few times for prompts. I was able to write 17 short stories. Debating if I want to post them somewhere, or keep them on my iPad for the moment.

  • AnyMousse posted an update 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    So I got Julie’s e-mail that says to check in today, but I’m not sure if that means here or in one of the groups. At any rate, I did participate this year and managed to write 17 short stories.

  • We did it! Congratulations everyone who wrote at least one story, which is infinitely better than no story at all.

    And, of course, a special thanks to Julie. Thank you for all the care and effort you put in helping your community.

    I wrote three micro/flash fictions this week. The first one is a vignette more than anything else, based on the…[Read more]

  • Fallon posted an update in the group Group logo of The Victory DanceThe Victory Dance 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Final story of the month! Used the “Two children are fighting” prompt again, though this one involves teenagers. And it fits right in where I am in Jonas & Isaac’s story. 🙂
    SOCS/Story a Day: Day 25 – “Do/due”

  • Fallon posted an update in the group Group logo of The Victory DanceThe Victory Dance 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Today I have a story using the “one character tries to sell something to the other” prompt.
    Story a Day September: Day 24 – “House Hunting”

  • Fallon posted an update in the group Group logo of The Victory DanceThe Victory Dance 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    I used the “couple leaving on their honeymoon” for the second time. Jonas and Isaac in the airport.
    Story a Day September: Day 23 – “Security”

  • Fallon posted an update in the group Group logo of The Victory DanceThe Victory Dance 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    I used the “character’s boss is doing something illegal” again for today’s story. Different character this time.
    Story a Day September: Day 22 – “Discrepancy”

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