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?
Q. Any other tips for story of the success?