Writers: Burn Your Business Cards

‘Creative’ is not a noun…Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title, not the work.”

Austin Kleon, Keep Going

I read Chapter 3 of Kleon’s latest book this morning and it stopped me in my tracks.

Not because I didn’t know and understand what he said.

I have, after all, made a name for myself as the person who entices writers to actually write during May & September every year.

But because it made me wonder: am I actually doing the verb?

diary writing

What Do You Do All Day?

Continue reading “Writers: Burn Your Business Cards”

Why Can’t You Write That Story?

dyslexia
Sometimes its hard to write.

Even when you want to.

Even when you’ve started a story.

Maybe your story wanders off the point and you get lost in the mushy middle. Or maybe your story immediately wants to become a novel. Perhaps you get interrupted and lose your mojo.

I’d love to hear from you. What happened last time you started a story and didn’t finish? What stalled you last time you sat down to write and couldn’t.

Leave a comment here and let’s get a discussion going about what goes wrong and what we can do about that.

 

How To Write A StoryADay – Tips For Success

How To Write A StoryADay For A Month

I. Use the site during the StoryADay May challenge, to find prompts and to find community (either in the blog post comments or in the community forums. (Come back on April 25 to get access, or get on the mailing list now!)

It can be fun to go online and chat with other people about how they use each day’s prompt.

II. If May doesn’t work for you, bookmark this site and use the prompts for a personal month of short story writing at any time of the year, whenever your schedule allows. Simply come back and look up the prompts, write your stories,. I recommend telling a few friends what you’re doing to help with the accountability part.

III. For your best chance at success,  get together with your In Real Life writing group and go through the challenge together.

The Rules Of The Challenge

Q. Do I have to write 31 stories in 31 days?

A. No. Since the StoryADay May challenge began in 2010 I have always said: make your own rules. For some people, the challenge of writing a story every day is the thing that excites them the most and helps them to embrace the challenge. For other people it’s unrealistic. Those writers simply decide how many days this month they’re going to write.

The key is to make your own rules and then stick to them. Some years, for example, I take Sundays off.

Q. Do I have to complete the stories in a day?

A. Yes. This is the only place where I am quite strict. There is a power in finishing a story and so I encourage you to push through to the end of your story every day.

This does not mean writing a brilliant draft.

Sometimes you have to cheat. You can write “[something clever happens here]” and then sketch out a resolution and final paragraph if that’s what it takes to get used to the end of the story. Doing this at least teaches you to keep the mood to keep the story moving towards a place of resolution.

Q. What do I do if I miss a day?

A. Move on. Don’t try to catch up. Don’t try to beat yourself up. Do try to figure out what went wrong. Did you want time? Did you get lost in the muddy middle? Did you leave your writing until the last moment and then freeze? Spend a couple of minutes figuring out what wrong and then try to accept it, learn from it and move on. This is not a failure. This is you becoming a dedicated writer. As long as you keep coming back to the page, you’re not failing.

Q. Do I have to post my stories online?

Absolutely not. You don’t have to show them to anyone. This is a safe space, a sandbox, a place for you to play with learning about writing stories. You have the freedom here to be bad. In fact some days I’m going to tell you to go over the top, straight into parody, write whatever you want to have rough. You should feel free to write whatever you need to write to learn your craft without fear of anyone over your shoulder.

Q. Then how do I stay accountable?

Make your challenge public. Either take part in the challenge at storyaday.org during May and September where you can post in the victory dance group or in the blog comments of the prompt itself. The community will congratulate you!

Or tell your friends. Promise to email or tweet or Facebook or Instagram every day as soon as you finish writing. Knowing that people are waiting for that post will keep you honest.

Q. What length should the stories be?

A. If you’re writing a fresh story every day, you’re probably going to be writing very short stories. Some people can bang out 3,000 word stories every day, but in my experience, they are rare. Most people write between 100 and 1200 word stories — flash fiction. You could decide to write a 140-character, Twitter-length story every day, and still be writing a story a day. (Me? Some years I comment to a 100 word story every day).

Just as long as you have a beginning, a middle and an end (not necessarily in that order, and, in a super-short story, one of those can be “off-stage” or implied); a character; a sense that something is happening or changing (even for an instant), then you have a story!

Q. Do you have any other books or courses that can help me well I learned to write stories?

A. Yes, I’m so glad you asked. You can find more books of writing prompts, along with workshops and e-books about finding time to write, becoming a better writer, publishing short story collections yourself, in the StoryADay Shop.

**Q. How can I find it more about StoryADay?

A. Sign up for updates

Q. Any other tips for story of the success?

Yes, come back to the site often. Listen to the Podcast, and sign up for updates.

 

Get The Results You Want, For Your Writing

picture of a winner's medal

Get the free Get Results Worksheet,
and catch all the ideas this post gives you

Let’s be honest: fame and fortune would be nice, but it’s not really the reason we write, is it?

We write because we need to. It should be enough but sometimes we want more. This post will lead you through three ways to get yourself closer to your image of ‘writing success’. Continue reading “Get The Results You Want, For Your Writing”

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 Tracker screenshot

Write 12 Stories This Year – A Challenge From Alexis A. Hunter

Alexis A. Hunter Twitter ProfileI’ve always been impressed with how much fiction StoryADay friend and participant Alexis A. Hunter pushes out into the world: over 50 short stories in publications like Apex, Shimmer and Cricket.

In 2017, she has committed to writing a new short story every month.

That sounded like my kind of challenge, so I asked her more about it. Continue reading “Write 12 Stories This Year – A Challenge From Alexis A. Hunter”

Stay Excited About Your Writing This Year

To stick to our good intentions and create good writing practices, we have to stay excited about our writing. Meeting a word count goal or an hours-in-chair goal isn’t always enough of an incentive to break through our resistance to sitting down and creating something out of nothing, every day.

So, in this article, I’m offering you some alternative ways to get yourself jazzed about your writing practice.

'I'm Excited'
Photo: Stuart Dootson

Of course, being me, I’m going to recommend you incorporate short stories into your writing practice, but you can use these ideas even when you’re working on a scene in a longer work.

I’m going to show you how you can stay excited about your writing practice by:

  • Understanding the purpose of your story and how it affects the final form,
  • Experimenting with new formats and new ideas,
  • Focusing on your audience (but not too much)

I’m also going to give you one foolproof way to make sure you finish your stories, every time.

And then I’m going to invite you to make a very specific commitment to your writing this year—if it seems right for you—one with built-in accountability and support.

Take A Break

Continue reading “Stay Excited About Your Writing This Year”

How To Set Exciting Writing Goals for Next Year — And Actually Meet Them, This Time!

This time next year, you could be staring at a list of achievements that are directly related to the goals that matter to you…

StoryADay Writers' Annual Review Bundle graphic
Scroll down to get your worksheets!

Listen to the podcast episode that goes along with this post:

The Allure of the Fresh Start

I love the idea of a fresh start, don’t you?

It doesn’t matter when it happens (New Year, the first day of spring, the start of a new academic year), I’m always ready with my list of “this time it’ll be different” resolutions.

  • This time I’ll get my assignments done ahead of time!
  • This time I’ll write every day, even if I don’t feel inspired!
  • This time I’ll floss three times a day!

    And What Happens Next?

    You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

    I’m excited to follow through on my plans for about three days.

    Then I start to force myself to stick to the new regime.

    Then I start to miss a day here or there…

    …and suddenly it’s June and I’m flipping through my journal and I find that massive, guilt-inducing list of Things I’m Going To Do Differently This Year, and my shoulders slump, and I spend the next three weeks in a slump, wondering why I can’t get anything done.

    Sound familiar?

Continue reading “How To Set Exciting Writing Goals for Next Year — And Actually Meet Them, This Time!”

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?

Want To Learn To Write More? Give Yourself Permission To Write

We all imagine a perfect time when the obstacles will fall away and Writing Will Happen. And We’re All Wrong…

Pencils

We all have reasons why we’re not writing.

  • We’re too busy.
  • We’re too tired.
  • We don’t have anything to say.
  • We’ve tried before and failed to finish.
  • We have to get these pencils lined up just right…

We all have reasons why we’re not writing right now:

  • We’ll do it after you’ve settled in to this new job.
  • We’ll do it at the weekend.
  • We’ll do it when the kids go to sleep.
  • We’ll do it when the sun comes out.
  • We’ll do it on a rainy day
  • We’ll do it when we retire.

We all imagine a perfect time when the obstacles will fall away and Writing Will Happen.

Except We’re All Wrong

In all of it.

Too Tired?

Maybe, but remember how invigorated you felt last time you got into that flow state while writing, and the time just flew away? Continue reading “Want To Learn To Write More? Give Yourself Permission To Write”