Don’t Be Afraid of #OwnVoices

In which Julie has opinions about someone else’s (terrible) opinions…

On May 12, 2023 Kathleen Porter published an opinion piece entitled “Limiting What Novelists Can Write is Bad For Readers.”

I think she almost entirely missed the point of the diversity movement and I am…irritated. Please join me for a walk through some terrible opinions and what YOU can do, as a sensitive, thoughtful writer, to avoid this kind of knee-jerk reaction and keep writing.

Video Version

Support the podcast

And finally a remainder that know you can support this podcast, if you would like to, which some people have asked me about and to do that, you go to, and you can make a one-time or recurring donation to keep the show going. And I really appreciate your support. That’s it from me this week. Happy writing. And I’ll see you again soon.

Transcript available here

Day 13- Disappointment & Delight by Meghan Louise Wagner

Let’s get emotional with today’s prompt from Meghan Louise Wagner

The Prompt

Imagine a character who is older (interpret that as you like!) who returns to a place they visited once when they were younger.

There should be some emotional importance to the place, but this prompt works best if it’s a place the character only went to one or two times (not anywhere they’re super familiar with).

Start the story with the character returning to the place. When they arrive and see the place in its present state, have them either be:

a) greatly disappointed or

b) greatly delighted.

Then weave in memories of the place (or memories associated with the place) from when they were young.

Try to jump back and forth between them in the present and the past. By the end of the story, try to show a change in how the character views the place, either in the past or present. (for ex: if it started with them being delighted, have the story end with them being disappointed–or vice versa.)

Meghan Louise Wagner

Meghan Louise Wagner lives in Northeast Ohio. Her work has recently appeared in such places as Nashville Review, Cutleaf, Story, AGNI, Okay Donkey, and The Best American Short Stories 2022. More about her can be found at:

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Day 12- Listening for ideas by Monique Cuillerier

Sound can be stimulating…in today’s writing prompt from Monique Cuillerier

When I’m having a hard time falling asleep, when my mind won’t stop throwing up new worries or old memories or random fears, I listen to white noise tracks, preferably nature sounds. (Here’s a short playlist of some of my favourites)

In doing this, I unintentionally discovered that listening to these soundscapes provides me with lots of ideas for stories (or further developments for works in progress).

(It is not, however, particularly helpful in getting to sleep!)

The Prompt

Choose one of the tracks on the playlist (or find one on YouTube, Spotify, or a website like Ambient Mixer ).

Listen for a while. Maybe 5 minutes, maybe more. (I will warn you that some of the tracks are many hours long…)

Let your mind wander as you immerse yourself in the sounds. What do you think of? What images come to your mind? How do you feel?

Then write a story based on your reaction and the ideas that have come to you.

It might be something quite literal (like rain falling on a roof inspiring a story of being inside a cabin during a storm) or less so (for example, the feelings of isolation or coziness that arise).

Monique Cuillerier

Monique (she/her) is a lesbian science fiction writer living in Ottawa (Canada), with her cat Janeway and many (many) plants. Her latest story, “Touching Mars,” can be found in Bicycles & Broomsticks: Fantastical Feminist Stories about Witches on Bikes (January 2023). She can be found at

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Day 11- Food Fight by Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Food is more than nourishment .in today’s writing prompt from Marta Pelrine-Bacon

The Prompt


People have strong feelings about certain foods.

Have your characters battle over food. There are so many ways we fight about food.

Or have a character who refuses to love their traditional food and suffers the consequences.

Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Marta is an author and artist making stuff up as she goes along.

More from Marta

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Day 10- A Mysterious Start by Fallon Brown

Fallon Brown invites you into a mystery

The Prompt

When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by *that*.

What is *that*? An idea, a smell, a sight, a sound? Something else? How does the protagonist react to it? What do they do next? Start your story with this line and see where it takes you.

Fallon Brown

Fallon Brown is a nonbinary writer from Northwestern Pennsylvania. They write mostly romance and cozy mystery novels, with some fantasy and historical in there as well. When they aren’t writing(rarely), they tend to devour books or let their mind unwind with crochet or cross-stitch projects. The first two books in their Jax of All Trade mystery series are available. You can also find them at or on Instagram and twitter: @frbrown906

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Day 9- Kingdom in a Jar by CH Schoen

CH Schoen created a graphic prompt for today

The Prompt

A glass jar containing a fantasy and including a forest and a path to a castle with turrets

Write a story, and after 5 minutes of writing, this jar appears in your character’s world.

Write 100 words about meeting the ruler of this kingdom.

Or whatever you would like.

CH Schoen

C.H. Schoen is a late-night writer hailing from the midwest. Her passion include studying the different belief systems of the world and walking the land with her dogs. She can be found most nights crafting weird little stories and posting visual prompts to

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2023 Day 8 Check in

A vlog about how my StoryADay May is going…

Today’s prompt is here

Week 1 is a wrap!

Today I was pretty happy with the very short story I wrote. When I got to the end I discovered something interesting, which I share in this video.

Also: now’s a great time to assess what went well last week and what you’ll keep/do differently during this coming week of the challenge (I talk about this, too, in this video)

Keep writing,


Day 8- Take over the story from here! by Lisa Thornton

An intriguing premise for a story from Lisa Thornton, today

Let your mind wander. Any genre works. Make it your own. Have fun!

The Prompt

“She wrote it on the back of the list she had been keeping of the best neon signs she’d seen so far. There was no way to know if he would ever read it, but that wasn’t the point.”

Lisa Thornton

Lisa Thornton is a writer and nurse living in Illinois. She has words published/forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Roi Faineant Press, Bending Genres, Fiery Scribe Review, Bivouac Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree and more. She was a finalist for the 2022 SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She can be found on Twitter @thorntonforreal.

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2023 Day 7 Check in

A vlog about how my StoryADay May is going…

Today’s prompt is here

Week 1 is a wrap!

Today I wrote badly and learned some things. I also got to hangout with the StoryADay Superstars and talk about writing, and it was moving, and inspired.

Hey you: if you’re reading this and writing at all: you’re pretty unusual and you’re pretty amazing.

Keep writing,


Day 7- Opening Old Label Scars: Setting and Character Prompts From Closed Stores and Restaurants by Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes wants you to fill in the gaps

The Prompt

Old Label Scars: Setting and Character Prompts From Closed Stores and Restaurants

Think about your favorite childhood store, attraction or restaurant. Did you sing the Woolco song and chase “blue light specials?” Did you cheer the drums and ice cream at Farrell’s? Can you spot a Whataburger a-frame building even when it’s been turned into a bank? A Toys-R-Us turned into an electronics store with the familiar front intact but painted over? A more recent Payless Shoes that is empty but still has remnants of the sign. A wooden roller coaster standing guard over a city with no visitors.

With many businesses closing due to Covid and entire malls being abandoned across the country, there are often “label scars” where businesses have left, leaving only the shadows of their names behind. As you shop or eat, watch out for those label scars that may trigger memories of shopping or food locations that are newly or long-gone.


  1. Write about your childhood memories of stores and restaurants that are no longer open. Did you visit a Stuckey’s on a family vacation? Eat at a Woolworth’s lunch counter?
  2. Write about your first job working retail or as a restaurant server in a place that isn’t open anymore. What do you remember about the experience, good and bad? What did your uniform look like?
  3. Imagine the employees and shoppers at the same places. Invent characters based on those people. Write about their interactions. Does the manager fall in love with an employee? What was the bestselling item when you worked there?
  4. Make a list of the sensory details you remember from these closed businesses. The smell of Wicks and Sticks. Tastes from food court stores that don’t exist anymore. Colognes in department stores. The sound of those Farrell’s drum beats. The smell of mall bookstores. Sounds of mall piano stores or dogs barking in the pet store. Shoe stores where they x-rayed your feet and fit your shoes.
  5. If you find a label scar on a storefront, take a picture of it and create your own ekphrastic prompt. Write about the emotions you feel when you see it. What decade does the remaining font shadow feel like it belongs to? Who hung the sign? Who took it down? Was it a family business that failed?
  6. Do some research. Go online and see when/how the business closed. For example, the history of Chi Chi’s closing is well-documented but you might learn about your own regional favorite shuttered store. Write about how the community felt when the business closed. Did a little girl cry because Chi Chi’s wasn’t there with a sombrero and fried ice cream for her birthday?

For further research, visit online sites that explore dead malls and abandoned stores. Write about those locations by imagining what happened to them.

Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes is the author of three short fiction collections: AMBROTYPES published by word west, “Mother Figures” published by ELJ, Editions and CHILD CRAFT, forthcoming from Belle Point Press in September, 2023. Her words have appeared in a wide range of publications including The Citron Review, JMWW, No Contact Mag, Leon Review, Complete Sentence, Gone Lawn, The Bureau Dispatch, Nurture Lit, X-R-A-Y Lit, McSweeney’s, SmokeLong Quarterly, Southern Living, Allrecipes and many others. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, Best Microfiction, long-listed for Wigleaf50 in 2021 and 2022, and included in Best Small Fictions 2022. She’s a Fractured Lit Associate Editor, Gone Lawn co-editor, Ruby Lit assistant editor,and reads for Retreat West, The MacGuffin, Best Small Fiction, The Porch TN and Narratively. You can find her on Twitter at @amygcb.

Mother Figures:
Child Craft: preorders May, 2023:

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5 Days In May

Catch up with the first week of StoryADay May 2023 through the experiences of founder and writer, Julie Duffy

On this episode of the podcast I update you on how my StoryADay challenge is going this year, in the hopes that I’ll inspire you to get or keep going too!

Subscribe to the daily series here:

00:00 StADa287 Five Days In May
01:14 D
04:40 Day 2
09:56 Day 3
13:41 Day 4
17:26 Day 5
21:21 Wrap up

And finally a remainder that know you can support this podcast, if you would like to, which some people have asked me about and to do that, you go to, and you can make a one-time or recurring donation to keep the show going. And I really appreciate your support. That’s it from me this week. Happy writing. And I’ll see you again soon.

Transcript available here

Day 6- Unnamed by K. B. Carle

K. B. Carle invites you to leave your character unnamed

The Prompt

When writing or brainstorming the beginnings of a story, one complication that paralyzes the writer is what to name their character?

Some have a placeholder name such as “John Doe,” waiting for the character to reveal their name once the story is complete and will add this new name while editing.

Others, like myself, go to Google for unique, unusual, or rare names. But what if we made the decision not to name our characters at all?

For this prompt, resist the urge to name your main character. Instead, consider characters such as

  • Cathy Ulrich’s, “The Astronaut’s Wife,” who is simply known by her wife’s job title and role in their marriage.
  • Hema Nataraju’s “middle-aged commuter,” or
  • Eric Scot Tryon’s “Wife #2.”

How do names identify our characters? Are they defined by their job title, feelings, or their role in the world around them?

DO NOT be afraid to experiment and, as always, have fun! Afterall, someone dared to create villains such as Polkadot Man and Condiment King.


After the Thrill by Amy Lyons

Compound by Noa Covo

You Were Only Waiting for This Moment to Arrive by Kathy Fish

Rumors from the Castle by Cathy Ulrich

K. B. Carle

K.B. Carle lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her flash has been published in a variety of places including Lost Balloon, Five South Lit., The Rumpus, JMWW, and elsewhere. K.B.’s stories have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, and her story, “Soba,” was included in the 2020 Best of the Net anthology. Her story, “A Lethal Woman,” will be included in the 2022 Best Small Fictions anthology. She can be found online at or on Twitter @kbcarle.

Listen to her episodes of the StoryADay podcast: episode 279 and episode 280

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Day 5- Tell a scary story by Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud sets up the scene for a horror story (perhaps?)

The Prompt

Molly heard her mother’s car pull into the driveway. She closed her math book and ran to the front door. The two hours she spent between the end of school and the time her mom came back home from work were always lonely.

She met her mother at the front door.

“Hi Mom!” She gave her a hug.

“Hey sweetie.” She set down her purse and her keys. “What are you doing?”


“Well go finish it up and we’ll watch a movie when you’re done, okay?”

Molly was about to head back to her room when the door opened again. Her mother came in, again. “Hi, Molly!” She joined the first in the kitchen — two carbon copies of each other. They didn’t see each other or seem to know the other was there, but they kept talking cheerfully to her. And then a third came in. And a fourth.

Molly crept slowly back to her room. The kitchen was full of their happy talk, all their words running over each other. She hated nights when this happened. She slid under her bed and put her hands over her ears. She hated what came next.

Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud is the author of The Strange, Wounds, and North American Lake Monsters
Find him on Twitter at @NBallingrud

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Day 4- 100 Word Story by Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy encourages you to keep things short

After the meaty, narrative stories of the past few days, I have a fresh challenge for you today: write something extremely short that still can be defined as a ‘story’

The Prompt

Write a story in exactly 100 words

Beware don’t expect this to be fast, just because it’s short.

Writing a complete story in 100 words takes a lot more time than any average 100 words in the middle of a longer story.

Crafting a complete story in 100 words is not easy. It is, however, quite satisfying.


  • Super-short stories have to pack an emotional punch in very few words. Concentrate on one moment, one incident, that holds huge significance for a character: the moment they first made eye contact with their baby; seeing the first crocus of spring after a hideous winter full of drama and despair; standing on stage in the moment of silence before the applause starts…
  • You’ll want to save the majority of your words for the build-up to the climax. Think about how many words you can afford to spend setting the scene (maybe 25?) and how many you want for the resolution (10?). Can you create a resonant story in 65 words?
  • Choose adjectives carefully. You don’t have much room.
  • Make words do double duty. Instead of saying ‘he walked across the room, shaking with rage’, say ‘he stalked away’, saving five words. You might even be able to cut it further by making “Stalked off” a complete sentence.
  • Don’t feel you have to hit 100 words on the first pass. Write the story, then go back through and intensify things by making your verbs more active and pruning as much dead wood as you can.
  • Imply as much as you can. Leave gaps. Let the reader work a bit.

As you may have noticed by this point, it’s a different kind of challenge to write a story every day than it is to work on the same story every day for a month.

If you haven’t started collecting Story Sparks yet, now would be a great time to start writing down stray thoughts and observations as you about your day.

You’re doing great, but we have 27 more ideas to come up with, before the month is over.

Future-You will thank Past-You as they browse through all the ideas you’ve collected along the way, while away from your desk!

Julie Duffy

Julie is the founder and host of StoryADay May. She creates challenges, courses and community for writers at StoryADay, on podcasts and conferences. She often relies on Past-Julie. Sometimes it even works out well…

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2023 Day 3 Check in

A vlog about how my StoryADay May is going…

Today’s prompt is here

I found today’s prompt challenging, perhaps because I was feeling the pressure to write about something weighty and important, which made me feel intimidated and stuck. But then I remembered my collection of Story Sparks, and I found inspiration in a personal experience that I gave to a different character.

I decided to write the story in third person and present tense to make it more experiential for the reader. This was different from what I had been writing the past couple of days, which were more narrative in form.

Through this experience, I was reminded of the importance of just getting started with writing. Even though parts of the prompt made me resist at first, I found that I had unknowingly incorporated them into my story.

Trusting yourself as a storyteller and putting words on the page, even if they feel choppy or imperfect, can lead to magic in your writing.

So, don’t fret about finding the perfect topic or having everything planned out. Just start writing and let the interesting stuff happen. Nobody needs to see it, and you might just end up with a big, stupid grin on your face like I did.

Keep writing, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s prompt on keeping things short!

Day 3- Character Pulls Focus by Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean leads your character through a story

The Prompt

Start a story with a character in the middle of a conversation, where everyone knows something the main character doesn’t know.

Allow the main character to ignore the people around him. Use the setting to reveal something about the main character.

Let the main character gives us snippets of who the characters are around them.

Eventually, let one of the other characters get through to the main character!

Let the main character know seeing the room around them differently.

How does this added context force the main character to act/react?

How do they better understand the other characters in light of this revelation?

Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean is the author of two flash fiction chapbooks Special Like the People on TV (Redbird Chapbooks, 2014) and Covenants (ELJ Editions, 2021), and a full flash collection, Hollows (Alternating Current Press, 2022). He lives in Indiana, where he currently is the Editor at Fractured Lit and Uncharted Magazine. A recipient of the 2019 Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction, his writing can be found in Best Microfiction 2019, 2020, 2023, Best Small Fiction 2019 and 2022, Monkeybicycle, Moon City Press, and numerous other litmags.

His interviews have been previously published in New Flash Fiction Review, The Rumpus, CRAFT Literary, and The Town Crier (The Puritan).

He has taught writing workshops for the Gotham Writers Workshop, the Barrelhouse Conversations and Connections conference, and The Writers Workshop.

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2023 Day 2 Check in

A vlog about how my StoryADay May is going…

Day two of the challenge and I’m feeling great.

But, I made the classic mistake of not planning ahead, so I spent the first half hour doing admin instead of writing. I’m going to fix that tomorrow by planning my morning better.

The prompt today was from Mary Robinette Kowal:

“What’s in your character’s pocket?”

I used characters from my work in progress and wrote a self-contained story that I can later use as a scene in my novel. Other participants are using the challenge to push forward their work in progress in various ways.

What will YOU do?

Day 2- A Pocket Sized Prompt by Mary Robinette Kowal

A question from Mary Robinette Kowal, to prompt today’s story

The Prompt

The thing that I want you to think about is is just the answer to a question :

What’s in your character’s pocket?

  • So is there a thing that they carry with them all the time?
  • Is there something that they have put in their pocket specifically just in that moment?
  • Do they not carry anything in their pocket? How can they get away with that?

What’s in their pocket?

Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Spare Man, Ghost Talkers, The Glamourist Histories series, and the Lady Astronaut Universe. She is part of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and a four-time Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction appears in Uncanny,, and Asimov’s. Mary Robinette, a professional puppeteer, lives in Nashville. Visit at or visit her Patreon

Catch Mary Robinette Kowal on the StoryADay podcast here:
Part 1| Part 2

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Day 1- Expand, Narrow, Explode the Frame by Rachel Swearingen

Write a story using this helpful structure from Rachel Swearingen

The Prompt

Expand, Narrow, Explode the Frame

Write a scene in which a character is looking for something or someone that has been lost. Use all the senses to describe the setting. Give us a sense of the body and include the following “moves” in any order:

1. Allow the details of the scene to feel close, contained, even constricting.
2. Describe the thing that has been lost, a brief memory perhaps that has been triggered by its loss.
3. Look down. Zoom in on something very small.
4. Bring in a distant sound.
5. Draw attention to an opening of some sort, a window, a door, a hole in the wall or in a dense wood or in a thick covering of clouds, for example.
6. Can your character see or sense what is beyond that opening?
7. Allow your character to climb down or up or into for to a new vantage point.
8. Is your character alone? Invite a stranger to the scene. What happens now?

Rachel Swearingen

Rachel Swearingen is the author of “How to Walk on Water and other short stories” which received the New American Press Fiction Prize. Find out more at

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StoryADay May 2023 Is Almost Here

Read this tips for the StoryADay Challenge…and get your gameboard!

May is almost upon us!

Here are some tips on how to participate fully in the challenge:

Gamify your Experience

Each day of the challenge I’ll post a graphic you can save and share to chart your progress. Keep it secret or share on social media using #storyaday

OR If you’d like to get away from the screen and do some handi-crafts, print out this version of the game board and pieces. Cut out a piece for every day your write and paste it onto the game board. Proudly display it in a public space or take pictures and share on social media, using #storyaday

Set your own rules

You don’t have to write every day but you should push yourself to do as much as feels a little intimidating…and then review every week to see if you want to change your commitment)

Set up your workspace

Pick a notebook or create a folder on your computer to house all your StoryADay related writings

Always Put a Date on Your Work

Especially if you’re hand-writing. You won’t be sorry!

Do Your Victory Dance

Every day, come back to the blog and post to let the community know how you got on…yes, even if you didn’t get on well!

The support you’ll get is well worth the effort!

Don’t Catch Up

I mean, if you are highly motivated by streaks, you can.

For the rest of us, I strongly recommend closing the door on days when you didn’t write.

Part of the point of this challenge is to learn about how write, long-term. Do you tend get crushed by set-backs? Learn to keep going during this challenge!

(Use the community to help keep going. Post if you need a word of encouragement)

Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe

I do encourage you to post about your writing, but I don’t encourage you to post your actual stories.

For one thing, the idea of having to write AND polish a story every day is paralyzing (trust me, I always try to find ways to circumvent this truth, and I never succeed). Just write. Play in the mud. Make a mess. Enjoy yourself.

The second reason is more practical: if you ever want to have someone else publish your piece, they likely won’t take it if it has been published somewhere before, even on your blog or social media.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Not just whether you wrote or not, but how you’re feeling, how the effort is going, anything else that will help you build your writing practice, after the challenge is over.

Printable Weekly Log

I’ll send you a ‘debrief form’ at the end of the challenge, but make sure you keep notes as you go along.

You’ll learn a lot this month. You think you will remember all the lessons but you won’t. Keep notes!

Have Fun

This is a ridiculous challenge.

Part of the point is the have fun with your creativity and part is to help you lower your expectations and fight procrastination.

Just keep moving forwards.

Talk to other people in the comments.

Notice when you write a line you like.

Notice when you exceed your expectations (but just don’t raise them again

Check your email later today for an invitation to our kick-off party (bring your questions, nerves, and suggestions to help others).

Keep writing (and writing, and writing).


Your Writing Questions, Answered

In which I answer questions sent in by the StoryADay Community about how to overcome their writing challenges.

On this episode of The StoryADay Podcast, I discuss how to manage fear when it comes to writing, and how to overcome common struggles that writers often face.

You’ll learn why taking action is key to managing fear, and how participating in Story A Day can help with perfectionism and encourage creativity.

I also dive into the importance of having a deeper purpose for writing, and how to find motivation when it feels impossible to make time for writing.

Tune in to hear about the Story A Day Superstars Group and how it can help writers build community and celebrate their successes.

Plus, learn tips and tricks for acquiring and polishing writing skills. T

his is a must-listen episode for anyone looking to find inspiration, motivation, and guidance on their journey as a writer.


Sign up for the StoryADay Challenge

Find out more about the Superstars group

Support the podcast

Watch vvv


StADa285 StoryADay QA

 Good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon, Julie, from StoryADay here.

We are a little over a week away from StoryADay May.

[00:00:21] Survey Responses – challenges

I sent out a survey recently asking you all. About your secret dream for your writing life? I talked a little bit about that in the last episode. I also asked about people’s biggest challenge.

When it comes to writing at this moment in your life. And that’s what the first question. There was a lot of very personal heartfelt. Honesty in the answers. And there was a lot of. Similarity between what you all had to say. Everyone has their own take on it. There were certain people struggling with different areas of writing.

But, and none of it surprised me and none of it made me feel like any of you needed to quit. I think what we need to do. Is acknowledged that writing is hard. And there’s no better way to do that than to hang out with other writers because I, I. See this, I see all these answers and I’m staring at a screen of them right now.

I see all these answers and it’s all stuff I’ve heard. From other writers that I’ve been hanging out with, who are going through the process of writing.

And I’ve been hanging out with them for the past couple of decades and this stuff is. Is part of the process of writing. So let’s talk about what am I talking about? Things that I see in the survey.

[00:01:50] Writing Is Hard, M’Kay?

Making time and space to sit and write every day. Consistency of output, finishing what I’ve started. The confidence to keep making, moving forward, having the team and capacity to rate. All of these things. Are. Incredibly common among us. It’s very difficult. To take words. And create worlds.

And create interesting characters. And put them in fascinating situations that have twists and turns and can hold somebody’s interest. And we all read these wonderful books that have been published that have been through the polishing process and the revision process and the draft after draft, to get them to be

brilliant and twisty and fascinating. And much less often do we get to look at first drafts. Second drafts. Or to hear from writers who are going through that process.

It turns out that.

[00:03:06] Mythbusting

Everything we think we need to do in writing usually comes with an asterisk. Yeah, you have to write a polished draft that goes through multiple revisions. Except some of it may not. You might actually. write a great couple of scenes that stay intact all the way through the process.

Yeah, you have to write consistently, but consistently doesn’t mean every day.

It means keep coming back to it. Don’t leave a three year gap between stories that you’ve written.

[00:03:37] Fear is Managable

People who are retired or out of work will tell you that simply having space and time for your writing does not guarantee that you’re going to be able to sit down and write, because once you’ve solved the time and space issue. Then you have to deal with all the inner stuff. Am I good enough? Do I know what I’m doing? The fear of of not being good enough.

Which is by far the harder problem to solve. It is solvable. Because. Those kinds of fears. Am I good enough. Am I going to be able to, am I interesting enough? I’m going to be able to write this way or that way, these. Once you acknowledge that chatter is happening in your head. You can give it a name and that name is fear.

And once you have a name for it, you can start thinking about it. And once you start thinking about it, you look at these questions that are popping up in your head about, are you good enough? Can you do this? Can you write an eight? Eight 80,000 word novel. Can you tell an interesting story? All of these things are skills.

That you can acquire that you can build that you can polish.

And the thing about fear as the bravest people in the world will tell you. Is that it doesn’t go away. You just get better at managing how much power it has over you and the way to manage that power that it has over you. Is by taking action and doing a thing. So if you’re feeling fear,

The best thing to do is just to write anyway. It won’t be as bad as you thought and the , next time you feel that fear, you will know that you can push through it. And the more you do that, the less of a hold fear. Has over you.

So if you are. Avoiding your writing for some reason, if you are sitting down at your desk and then stepping away to do something more easy, clean the kitchen or do the laundry or make a meal. These are things that you know how to do. So they are easier, even if they’re not more enjoyable, they might be, but I don’t know who you are. If you enjoy cleaning the kitchen

more than you enjoyed writing. The point is. That. If you don’t know why you’re getting up and running away from your desk. Whenever you want to sit down and write it’s possibly fear-based. So call it that and then have a look inside and see what those fears are. Are they about. You’re afraid that you’re going to write a boring story. Okay.

Then write a boring story and then go and figure out how to make it more interesting. Don’t wait for it to come out perfectly, and be interesting on the first shot. Write some characters don’t put them in a setting, ask them some questions. What do you want and why can’t you, why don’t you have it already? And then start listening to what.

What comes out of your brain as you write, and you have to be writing for those answers to appear.

And once you’ve written your boring story, you’ll discover that the world did not end. And you get to write more stories or you get to revise this story. But nothing permanent happened. And if you feel like nothing happened in your story, then you go and you read some articles or a book about story structure, or how to add tension to a story or how to inject conflict into a story.

And you go and ask other writers, how do you do this? I had an example of this the other day. I’m writing. I’m writing a romance. I got a little stuck and I talked to a friend of mine who specializes in romance.

And I told her the story and I told her what was happening and how I’d set it all up. And she immediately asked me one question that made me realize what my story was lacking. And it was just, she just has that skill in her toolbox that she understands that genres so well that as I was fumbling through telling her my story, she realized there was a huge piece missing.

And she asked me where’s this piece. And I said, I haven’t written it into the story. And she went well, start there and it was just a very low key question from her because she understood. The skill she has these tools. And she asked. The right question.

 If you have fear about not being good enough, It might just be a lack of skills. You just don’t know if you have the skills you need, in which case you get to pursue the skills, you got to go find them. You get to ask people questions and say how do you do this? And if you’re hanging out with other writers, you’ve got a wealth of people to do that with. The good news for you is that the internet is full of writers who are very happy to talk about their process. So there’s tons of interviews and there’s tons of classes you can take. There’s tons of groups you can join to find other writers.

Even if you’re introverted. Joining a group and being with other people who are pursuing this difficult thing. Has been transformational for me. And for, I think a number of people. In the story of the superstars, which is opening up again soon. So keep an eye on your emails for that.

So if you have time and space to write and you’re running up against that fear there. There are some things that you can do to help yourself keep moving.

[00:09:09] Finding Time

 I think one of the things that we all have to do, and this will. Address those of you who said that you have. Trouble finding or making time to right now, there are genuinely lives out there that are very busy.

And especially those of you with young children or people, other people that you’re looking after or demanding jobs, or maybe three demanding jobs. Making time is tricky.

For some of us that is less tricky. But for all of us. The thing that will make it more compelling. For us to make time for a writing. Is to manage the motivation question. This was another one that I saw coming up for people was that they were struggling with finding the motivation to write, keeping the momentum going.

All of these kinds of words, cropping up in the survey. And the most powerful thing. I have. Discovered in this area. Is to think of other people.

To remove yourself from the equation a little bit. And weight more heavily the people who will be impacted by your story. And you can think about when you were a kid. And you read that book that just made you feel seen, that entertained you when you were down, that. Just moved you. And this doesn’t have to be when you were a kid, it could be last week.

If you think about that. And if you can keep your thoughts, cause I know you’ve got your thoughts, recent mailer minute. That’s why you’re a writer. You’re very creative. You’re very imaginative. I knew tend. I am speaking for myself. When you start thinking, doing this thought exercise.

 It’s very common to think about. Oh, I want to create something like that, that, that moves someone and then respond to oh, but. Oh, but oh, . I have to write it all, but I have to finish it, or, but I’m not good at this, or, but I have to figure out how to get it published and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But that stuff is a different skill set. That is managing the business of being a writer professionally.

And you have to learn to put these things in silos and move that one over there. Let’s not think about that today. What we’re thinking about today is really. Thinking about your. Ideal reader. And.

Feel the love. For that ideal reader.

I know, it’s motivating to think about, getting checks from publishing houses and production companies and all of that kind of stuff. That’s great. That’s fine. That’s motivating. That gets you excited. Go for it. But it doesn’t tend to last as much because we’re all sensible people and we’re aware that there’s a certain amount of luck involved in there.

And you can’t guarantee that’s going to happen. You can guarantee that you can write something that will move someone. And if you have that, someone in mind, even a a theoretical person or somebody real from your life. It may be somebody who’s departed from your life already. And focusing on doing your best work

and trying to move that person, trying to reach that person, trying to help that person.

We’re pretty altruistic. I think. Most of us. And the idea of helping someone else is a really good way. to. Get over. A lack of confidence in ourselves.

If I was standing in front of you, and I cut my hand and I was bleeding and holding it out to you. I don’t think any of you would go, oh, I don’t really know what to do, but I’ll just, you just stand there with your hand bleeding. No, you’d grab a paper towel and you’d. Hand it to me and save, I don’t know, put pressure on it because , you know, that much.

And I don’t think anybody who’s listening to this, wouldn’t do that for me.

You don’t need to know how to do things perfectly, to be able to help people, touch people, move people, see people. If that helps you. Shift, focus from your shortcomings as a writer. To your aspiration. To help someone else. If that is motivating to you. Then hang on to that one.

And once you have that kind of motivation, whichever one you choose that really. Grabs you and moves you. Once you have that motivation in your mind.

You will. Find it harder to not find the time to write. So if you’re struggling to make time to write.

Keep in mind that deeper purpose that you have for writing. And you will find yourself much more motivated to cram little bits of writing into the little bits of time you can find. And two. Carve out pieces of time. Elsewhere.

[00:14:11] Overwhelm

 We do have big dreams. And a lot of answers from people who have this big dream of publishing a novel. Getting the movie deal, but. They are. New mothers or. Have elderly parents to look after. And so the whole big goal of writing or finishing the novel, or this is also for people who’ve lost momentum and are one person said, which I think is brilliant.

When I’ve lost momentum on a project, getting started again feels like standing at the base of Everest in flip-flops. Tell me that’s not a writer.

Overwhelm. It’s really common. And. This will not be news to you, but the idea of chunking things down, making them manageable, doing what you can today and not worrying about the whole project,

is really the only way to get anything done. If you are feeling like you’re not being consistent enough or that you don’t have enough time, that you can’t imagine rating. 80,000 words on one project, you don’t have to. Not today. You have to write the next scene. Or you have to think about the next scene.

Maybe map out the next scene, what does it need to achieve? Who’s going to be in it. Where are they going to be standing relative to each other? Maybe that’s all you can do today. But that means that when you sit down tomorrow, you’ll have that roadmap and you’ll be able to maybe write. 500 words, 300 words of that scene.

We tend to be very ambitious, which is good, but we also tend to be ambitious, which is bad. Because we want to write 2000 words every day and we want to finish a story every day. Now I’m going to encourage you to do that during May , but that’s not a sustainable goal for the rest of your life. And that’s part of the reason.

That I do story a day, because I want you to understand that some days you’re going to fail and some days you’re going to write badly and some days you’re not going to finish and you just get up and keep going the next day. And then at the end of a month, Look what you did. You wrote all of these words, all of these stories or partial stories and you weren’t perfect.

And. You still produced a bunch of stuff and you had fun.

You know what I’m going to say next perfectionism. Whether or not you think of yourself as a perfectionist. I certainly don’t think of myself as a perfectionist and yet. Perfectionism creeps in. We have to battle it.

You don’t have to be consistent in a way that doesn’t feel right for you. You don’t have to finish everything. You don’t have to write a good story.

You don’t have to have a perfect writing practice. You don’t have to have a perfect system, for getting your stories out to market. You just have to keep coming back. And B. Optimistic and hope filled about it.

[00:17:14] Want More Julie?

 There’s so much more and I’ll be coming back to these questions on your responses. In future episodes.

I’m always really touched when people contact me after I released these podcasts and tell me that I said just what they needed to hear. Inspired them to keep going, something like that. But it’s not magic. The reason I know what’s going on in your head is because I spend a lot of time with writers.

These kinds of questions come up in our StoryADay Superstars group, which is a group that gets together monthly for Hangouts to talk through issues like this. But also during the week, we have lots of writing dates where we get together and we actually hold each other accountable. Actually sit and write together on zoom calls.

And in the breaks in those calls, these kinds of questions come up as well. And we talk about them. You’re able to, if you’re in that group, you’re able to ask me very specific questions about your writing and the particular project you’re working on. And I, and the other writers in the group are able to ask you very specific questions about what exactly is going on, where the problem arises.

What, what is stalling you? What particular, you know, character issues are you having that kind of thing? So as well as the workshops that we do together really the benefit of. Being in the Superstars group, which is, as I have mentioned, opening up again soon. Is that you get. Basically more me.

You get more eyes on your specific problems. You don’t have to listen to me talking about these generic writer problems. You actually get. Coached on your specific. Issues. And. You get to celebrate with people who understand. The nuances of the writing life. So, if you are interested in. Finding a group like that in getting more access to me to get my eyes on your particular writing practice.

Come over to story Get yourself on my mailing list by putting your name in one of those sign up boxes. And I will email you this week to let you know more. About how you get into this group, which is like being at the best writers conference or workshop, but all year round.

Remember StoryADay May start soon so make sure you’re signed up for that. at

[00:19:45] Support the podcast

And finally a remainder that know you can support this podcast, if you would like to, which some people have asked me about and to do that, you go to, and you can make a one-time or recurring donation to keep the show going. And I really appreciate your support. That’s it from me this week. Happy writing. And I’ll see you again soon.

3 Short Stories To Read Before May Begins

As we warm up for StoryADay May 2023, it’s always useful to read great examples of the kind of short fiction we might end up writing during May.

Here are three great (and a little weird) stories I’ve read over the past few months, to inspire you.

If you’ve ever thought “I can’t write a whole a short story,” maybe it’s because you haven’t seen all the weird and wonderful ways a short story can be built. It’s almost impossible to get it wrong!

Keep writing,


P. S. The free WRITER Code Masterclass is underway. If you want to write, but keep getting derailed, watch Lesson 1 now: in which I present a framework for a writing life that works for you, today, not ‘some day’.

Why You Should Write during StoryADay, This May

^^^ Watch (captions available)

Need the transcript?

˅˅˅ listen (mp3)

Of all the reasons you should join us in attempting to write a StoryADay May the best might possibly be because:

Don’t you want to be the kind of writer who writes?

Who writes so much they get good?

Who stands a chance of realizing those unreasonable-exciting dreams you’re not telling anyone about?

Don’t you at least deserve to try?


Sign up for the StoryADay Challenge: