WritersBloxx – A Box Of Story Prompts Disguised As A Game

An Interview with Gary Zenker

WritersBloxx box contents
WritersBloxx on Kickstarter

One of the best things about plugging into the writing community — online and off—is that you find yourself surrounded by people with creative and innovative ideas that spark your creativity as well as their own.

One such person is Gary Zenker who is, among other things, a writer and a game designer.

Gary’s new storytelling game, WritersBloxx is the perfect tool for StoryADay writers, who already enjoy writing prompts and want to be more productive. Continue reading “WritersBloxx – A Box Of Story Prompts Disguised As A Game”

Video FAQs – Where Do I Post My Stories?

StoryADay May FAQs

Posted by Story A Day on Friday, April 28, 2017

Here’s a FB Live I did earlier to address this question. If you don’t like video, there’s a written answer below.

Also, I’m around all weekend, answering questions and soothing nerves. Just post questions in the comments here or in the community (or at Facebook) and I’ll get to them on and off over the weekend. Consider this my “Office Hours”!!

The Short Answer

Continue reading “Video FAQs – Where Do I Post My Stories?”

SWAGr Tracking Worksheet – Your Key To Accountability and Productivity

Every month we get together to declare our intentions for the month in the SWAGr post’s comments.

But when the month rolls around to the 20th or so, it can be a bit hard to remember what you committed to doing this month.

Sign up here to receive a handy-dandy worksheet you can download and print out every month, when you make your writing goals.

SWAGr Tracking Sheet image

Get Your SWAGr Tracking Sheet



A Thank You, A Favor, And Two Reminders

The Thank You

Thank you so much to all the people who responded to my ‘what does short story writing do for you’ survey last issue.

Not all of the quotes made it into the Writer’s Digest Magazine article (coming March/April 2017), but they all informed it and made it better.

I’ll be making an online extra to go along with the article, which will include quotes from almost everyone I talked to during my research, so stay tuned for that and again, THANK YOU!

The Favor

Secondly, the favor: if you enjoy StoryADay.org and have a moment today, please consider nominating it (and other writing sites you love) for a Writers Digest Magazine 101 Best Websites for Writers listing.

If you’d like to nominate any site, you have to do it today, because the deadline is Dec 1. You can email writersdigest@fwcommunity.com (mailto:writersdigest@fwcommunity.com) and tell the the name of the site, it’s address and (optionally) why you like it.

You could send something like

“Hi, I’d like to nominate StoryADay (storyaday.org) as one of your 101 Best Websites for writers. It has helped me become more creative/ find a community online/ write more than ever.

Thanks!”

My first website for writers, the 21st Century Publishing Update (back in 2002, when the century was young), landed on the list and I’ve been itching to get StoryADay on there too, to spread the word about our fabulous little community.

Reminder 1: The Podcast

Looking Back & Looking Forward

If you haven’t discovered the StoryADay podcast yet, now’s the perfect time.

The current episode is all about Looking Back over your writing year and pulling out some achievements to help power you up for a new year of writing challenges and opportunities.

It includes ways that you can dig out those achievements from your murky memory of a year overshadowed by celebrity deaths and global crises; and shares some reasons for doing the exercise along with my examples of what I thought was worth of note, from my own writing year.

The next episode (in two weeks) will talk about Looking Forward to next year and will offer some concrete strategies on how to stop your writing becoming another casualty on your New Year’s Resolution list (abandoned, lonely and shivering by Jan 15 along with your good intentions for diet and exercise. Oh yes, we’ve all done it!)

To listen to this week’s episode, go here

To subscribe, paste this address into your favorite podcast-listening-software (it might be iTunes or maybe you’re more complicated than that), and have new episodes delivered automatically to your phone/computer/neural implant (it’s coming, don’t you doubt it).

http://storyaday.libsyn.com/rss

Reminder 2

SWAGr Is Coming

On the first of every month, a group of us ‘meet’ in the comments of that month’s Serious Writers’ Accountability Group post (we’re serious, not sombre) and leave commitments to our writing life, and look back over our past month’s progress.

If you aren’t receiving updates about this group, sign up for the mailing list and add yourself to the SWAGr group.

This month I’m encouraging everyone to do a Big Look Back at the entire year, and also to make commitments to your writing for the upcoming month: December. It can get overlooked in all the “Planning For Holidays And Making Resolutions For Next Year” nonsense, so hop on over tomorrow and make sure you set some writing goals for poor, neglected December. They don’t have to be big goals: just enough to keep you moving forwards.

And that’s it. That’s all I’ve got for now.

Except to say that I went to the Writer Unboxed Unconference last month and atteneded some mind-blowing sessions and met some amazing people. I’ll be sharing more of what I learned over the next few months in podcasts and blog posts, so stay tuned.

And…

Keep writing,

Julie

P.S. Remember to keep your energy high and get some rest this month. If you need more tips, check out last month’s podcast about energy for writing

StoryADay May 2016 Is Almost Here!

 

Lots to talk about this month because StoryADay May 2016 is almost here!!!

And if you’re not taking part this year, you should still check out all the great writing resources I’ve added to the site since you last stopped by…and please drop in during the challenge to wish other writers well. We love hearing from alumni!

In This Issue

  • How To Sign Up for StoryADay May 2016
  • The Site Is Open For New Members
  • Celebrity Guests Are Coming!
  • A Month of Writing Prompts 2016 ebook is out
  • Read the StoryADay Essentials Series
  • See The redesigned Home Page

How To Sign Up For StoryADay May 2016

In past years the sign up has been very informal, but that has led to various problems (people not getting their prompts, people getting left out of the community, me not knowing how many folks I’m looking out for…)

This year, if you’re taking part you must sign up here:

STADA16Signup250w

This guarantees that you’ll get:

  • All the (optional) writing prompts mailed to your inbox
  • An invitation to join the online community (in case you’re not already a member)
  • Bonuses! Story Spark logs, A Writing Log, custom StoryADay Coloring Pages (!), the Creative Challenge Workbook and participant badges for your social media profiles.

I hope this will help things run even more smoothly this year. Tell your friends!

http://storyaday.org/signup2016

The StoryADay Online Community is Open

Because of the evil spambot, I only open the community to new registrations a couple of times a year. This is that time.

When you sign up to take part in StoryADay 2016 you’ll receive your invitation to join the community (in your welcome email. Watch your inbox!)

Celebrity Guests Are Coming

Jonathan Maberry, Author picture
Jonathan Maberry
Jerry Jenkins, author picture
Jerry Jenkins

Every year we get some amazing Best-selling and prize-winning authors to stop by and share a writing prompt or two with us.

This year we’re kicking things off with Bram Stoker prize winner and multi-best-seller Jonathan Maberry, and following him up with mega-best-seller Jerry Jenkins. Other guest prompts will be coming your way too, so make sure you’re signed up

A Month of Writing Prompts 2016

A Month of Writing Prompts 2016If you’re the type of person who likes to plan ahead, this is the book for you.

For the past three years I’ve been putting together an ebook of all my writing prompts for StoryADay May. You can browse through the whole thing today or sit down every Sunday night and plan ahead for that week.

This year I’ve taken a different theme every week and written a series of essays and lessons to go with the prompts.

This year’s themes are

  • Week 1: Limits
  • Week 2: Elements of Story
  • Week 3: Rescue Week
  • Week 4: Your Writing Strengths
  • Week 5: The Last Hurrah

    This year, I’ve been giving a series of workshops on Story Structure, Conflict and Dialogue. You’ll find a lot of that information in this book, woven into the prompts and essays. It’s well worth the $2.99 (USD), even if I do say so, myself!

    A Month of Writing Prompts 2016Get Your Copy Now

    (Every purchase helps to support StoryADay, and keep it free)

Read The StoryADay Essentials Series – Free

If you’re on the fence about StoryADay May, not sure if you can commit to it, check out the StoryADay Essentials: a series of six articles that shows you why and How you could and should plunge into the challenge this year.

Check it out.

Shaking Up The Site

I’ve redesigned the home page of the site, to help the increasing numbers of new folks who are coming along to find out more about the StoryADay challenge.

But don’t worry, all your favorites are still around, tucked into the Menu at the top of the page (bottom if you’re on a mobile device): the blog, the community, the Tuesday Reading Room series, the Write on Wednesday Prompts, the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group, and of course, the shop.

Phew! I know that’s a lot for one day. Don’t forget to:

I Hereby Grant You Permission To Write

In the middle of the 20th Century “Art” because professionalized, to the point where we felt we didn’t deserve to tell stories unless a New York publishing house was slapping it between hardcovers, or an overpriced university program anointed us “Writer, MFA”.

This was an aberration; a moment in history that did not exist before and does not exist now.

Humans have always sat around and told each other stories, without the benefit of editors or tutors or anyone giving us permission. We told stories to audiences, and we gauged their reaction in order to make our stories better next time.

The success of the “amateurs doing things on TV” genre (American Idol, The Voice, Dancing With The Stars) along with the boom in indie publishing, indie movie making, indie everything making, are signs that the artificial workshop of creative professionals is over. Humans are taking back control of our own creativity.

Are you?

Tell your stories. Show them to people. Make them better. Write new stories.
That’s all there is to it.

You have every right to write. In fact, print out this certificate and write your name on it.

Permission To Write Certificate Thumbnail

There. You have my permission to write.

Can you give yourself permission to write?

What Are The Last Three Books You Opened?

Sometimes, when it’s hard to pick a writing project, it can be useful to take inspiration from other authors.

Sometimes, it’s good to review what kinds of books we’re reading and ask whether or not they are helping us in our writing.

Sometimes, it’s just fun to challenge our friends.

So here’s my challenge to you: tell me about the last three books you opened

(Not your favorite books, not books you wanted to read, not books you think will impress me. What books did you open? And yes, this can be in ebook, audio or picture book form)

Share your #last3books on your blog or social media and/or in the comments below. Then post this challenge to your friends.

Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion

This is part of my challenge to myself to read a spiritual meditation every morning. I hope that this will continue all year (and if it does, I may ‘retire’ it from this list.)

A mixture of personal stories, poetry, reflections on scripture, lives of the saints and litanies, it’s a positive way to start the day. It makes me less selfish.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I’m switching back and forth between the ebook and the audio version, because a, it’s looooong, b, it’s huge fun, and c, the narrator, Michael Page, is fabulous.

Set in a densely realized fantasy world, centered in one city, but so deeply developed that I have confidence there’s a whole universe around it. Locke Lamora is a lovable rogue, who, with his gang ‘The Gentleman Bastards’, tries to pull of the biggest scheme of his life and ends up in more trouble than even he could ever have imagined. There is magic in this universe but it is expensive, therefore it is sparely, which makes me happy. I prefer relatable tales of people getting in and out of scrapes on their own wits and training.

It’s an incredible feat, especially for a debut novel. The language is rich and earthy and witty (like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s lovechild, if it had been abandoned and raised in a gutter). It is long though. I kind of wish it was a series of three shorter books, so I could enjoy one, put it down and sigh, and then look forward to he next one. There’s certainly enough story there, for that. But that’s not the choice they made, so I’ll be picking this on up for some time to come.

Unstoppable by Bill Nye

In spite of the negative connotations of the title, Bill Nye’s book about the mess we’ve made of our planet is far from a downer. In fact, the “Unstoppable” force he’s referring to is not climate change, but us: humanity.

With his trademark chatty tone and irrepressible optimism, he points out all the problems we face and encourages the next generation to be bold, and believe that they can come up with solutions, if only they care enough.

Great read.

 

So, those are the last three books I opened. What about you? Leave a comment!

Don’t forget to share the challenge. Here are some updates you might use:

What are the last three books you opened? Take the #Last3BooksChallenge http://storyaday.org/last–3-feb

 

Dare to share the last three books you opened? Take the #Last3BookChallenge http://storayday.org/last-3-feb

Beyond Word Count – Other Ways To Log Your Writing Progress

I’ve made a case for logging your word count to keep yourself accountable, to give yourself a pat on the back, to encourage consistency and good writing habits.

But it doesn’t have to be word count.

WHEN WORD COUNTS HELP

Setting a word count goal makes sense if you’re working on a novel and want it finished by X date.

It also makes sense if you want to become a faster writer.

WHAT IF THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU?

It might not make sense to set a word count goal  if you’re still struggling to create a writing habit. Or if you’re writing flash fiction.

And what if you’re int he editing (or marketing) phase of a project, but still want to feel productive?

In these cases, you might want to to track the number of days on which you worked, to see how your writing practice is becoming part of your life.

HOW TO LOG YOUR DAYS

Set a goal for the number of days a week that you will Write Something (or Work on Project X).

  • Make a new column in your StoryADay Writing Log. Call it “Days Worked”
  • Any day when you work, just type “YES” or a “+” in that new column.
  • If you want to get fancy — set up conditional formatting to turn the cell green when it finds that text in the field).

If you like to keep your logs in a more tangible form:

At the end of the month, step back and gaze at the ‘heat map’ of your work progress. Hopefully there’ll be enough ’stickered’ days to make you smile. If not, make a commitment now to do better next month.

KEEPING YOUR GOALS REALISTIC

If you can make an unbroken chain of those days that’s great. But bewarE! Setting so high a bar can backfire. What happens the first time life gets in the way and you miss a day? You feel terrible. You get demotivated. You quit.

Rather, I’d suggest setting a goal to write on a certain number of days a week.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE INFORMATION

At the end of the month, look back at your log see how much you achieved and if any patterns emerge (are weekends good or bad for you? Do you write more when you’ve had more sleep? When the kids are in school?). You can see where you might make changes or improvements.

NO GUILT

Again, try to not use the log as a weapon to bludgeon yourself with guilt. Use it to analyze and study (and to face) what’s really going on.  Try to increase your goal a little from what you actually achieved this month (not some abstract and possible unrealistic ‘ideal’).

Whatever type of log you choose, use it to keep yourself accountable, spur positive changes, and reinforce good work habits.

Because all of these things get you closer to where you want to be: writing.

Are you logging your writing days or word count? What methods do you use, and how do you use it to help you progress? Share in the comments, below!

How I Used Word Count Tracking To Write 100,000 Words

How I used the StoryADay Word Count Logging tool to write 100,000 words last year, and why you should be logging your progress too!

Do you log your word count?

I’ve been logging my word count (on and off) for the past couple of years. Last year, without really trying too hard, I managed to write 100,000 words of fiction. That was the end of one novel, several short stories (a couple published) and the first half of a second novel.

If I’m so productive, why bother logging my word count, you say?

Come closer and let me whisper into your ear…I’m productive because of the word count log.

Here are four ways  logging my progress helped me meet my goals: Continue reading “How I Used Word Count Tracking To Write 100,000 Words”

10 Books Short Story Writers Should Have On Their Wish Lists

This week’s Reading Room is a little different: 10 (+1) books to add to your wish list. Enjoy!

Short Stories & Essays (To Learn The Craft)


I buy this every year and it has yet to disappoint. Curated by high school students and founded by Dave Eggars, this is a collection that is both quirky and keeps me feeling young!

Yes, everyone but British writers (someone idiosyncratically defined, if the reviews are to believed) are excluded from this 2-Volume collection. But I like a little focus in my anthologies, don’t you? (Side note: you might want to complement this with something from the Best American series. I couldn’t, in good conscience, link to their “Best Short Stories” edition because it is so resolutely ‘literary’ and I usually end up hating it, but YMMV. Their Mystery one looks interesting, and I wish they had more fiction genres to choose from.)


There’s nothing quite like reading the well-crafted words of Smart People on Important Issues to inspire you to get back to writing. Lots of essays in here from diverse voices.

ENCOURAGEMENT TO EMBRACE CREATIVITY


This wonderful call to artistic arms was hugely influential in my decision to start StoryADay. Gentle and encouraging it definitely helps you if you’re struggling with the whole permission to write thing. If you think you NEED to be doing stuff for other people before REWARDING yourself with time to write, Ms. Ueland will set you straight….

I haven’t read this one yet, but … Elizabeth Gilbert! Have you seen her TED talk? And she’s fabulous fictioneer in her own right, so sign me up for a copy!


I really bought this to use with my kids, but it turns out it’s a Rescue Pack for adults who have forgotten how to play. There is nothing a writer needs more than to be an Explorer of the World and Keri Smith shows you tons of ways you can have fun out in the real world again, noticing all the little details that fiction requires.

Chuck Wendig at his trademark profane, hilarious, no-nonsense, encouraging best. Not to be missed.

PRODUCTIVITY AND THE WRITER


If you haven’t discovered this book yet, it’s well worth a read. It talks about resistance and why we need to break through it.


If you HAVE read “The War of Art” (above) and are sick of bloody Resistance and want to know WHY it’s kicking in and what to do about it…this is the book for you. I received a review copy from the author Mark McGuinness but liked it so much that I’ve bought it again three times to give away (you can enter for a chance to win a copy here). Seriously. Read it.

If I might be allowed a little self-promotion, this book has 60+ ways to break writers’ block and some REALLY nice reviews on Amazon (thanks, guys!)
What would you add to this list? Comment below!