This week I share some lessons learned by the StoryADay Superstars ranging from process and habit lessons to lessons about writing topics and techniques.Continue reading “Work With What You’ve Learned About Your Writing”
Does writing have to be a struggle? What if your writing felt inevitable? What impact would that have on your life?
If not, you could find yourself, two weeks from now having written nothing, unsure of what you want to be writing, struggling to find your rhythm again.
I have mindset change to make you joyfully productive. Read on…
Use Your Powerful Imagination
Imagine, instead, that you had a plan for the first two weeks of October. What would that look like?Continue reading “What if writing was inevitable?”
This week’s podcast is a pep-talk to get you writing, even when you’re having trouble getting started.
(Isn’t “getting started” the hardest part some days?)
And sometimes, getting started isn’t the problem. The problem crops up somewhere else:
* Getting through the mushy middle
* Reining in a story that wants to become a novella
* Losing focus before the end.
I want to hear from you: what problems do you encounter when attempting to write short stories?
(I’m not calling it writer’s block, because that sounds like an artificial, external problem, and I believe we can all find the solution to temporary ‘stuckness’ from inside ourselves.)
Leave your comment and join the discussion here: http://stada.me/wrong
February is the shortest month, so we’re focusing on the shortest of fiction: flash!
(And, yes, I know there are shorter forms, but this is the particular short-short form I picked, ok?)
This week I talk about what flash is and why you might want to be writing it. Includes bonus trivia about Impressionism.
Last week’s flash fiction writing prompt: https://storyaday.org/wow-make-it-flash/
The latest Reading Room review featuring flash fiction: https://storyaday.org/rr-meteor-mccolough/
This month’s Accountability Group post: https://storyaday.org/swagr-feb-2017/
Follow StoryADay on Twitter: @storyadaymay
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 regrouping: it’s November: There’s still time to rescue some of your writing goals for this year, and set yourself up for a successful writing year in 2018.
This month’s theme at StoryADay is “Refilling The Well”, in which I encourage you to find many ways of rebooting your creativity…largely by taking a break from your writing.
Bookriot’s Best Books of 2017, So Far
In this episode I talk about the many, many ways we are wrong when we tell ourselves we simply can’t write!
StoryADay regular Alexis A. Hunter stopped by the blog to chat about her writing journey over the past few years, and how she’s used StoryADay to help push her beyond her fears. Over the past few years more than 50 of her stories have been published!
StADa: When did you first participate in StoryADay May?
AAH: 2011 was the first year I participated in StoryADay May. I heard about this awesome challenge about three or four days into the month and so wrote extra stories to catch up. I have since then participated in the challenge for a total of four years. It’s been so eye-opening and rewarding!
StADa: Tell us a little about your successes in the past few years.
AAH: The writing journey works differently for different people; my journey has been a bit slow, but always steady. I’ve made some good headway, breaking into markets I’ve always wanted to be published in. This year I’ve had stories published in Shimmer, Flash Fiction Online, and Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. I’ll have a story out in Apex this fall. It’s really exciting and I don’t think I’d be here (or at least it would have taken me longer to get here) if it weren’t for the StoryADay challenge.
StADa: How have you used StoryADay to help fuel your writing?
AAH: StoryADay taught me things I might not have learned otherwise. When I first sat down to start writing seriously about five years ago, I was perpetually full of dread about writer’s block. I had suffered extreme bouts of it before. Every time I finished a story, I questioned and worried and fretted over whether or not I’d be able to finish another one.
StoryADay taught me that I could do so and that I could do so consistently if I only tried hard enough. It showed me that if I thought long enough on any given prompt, my mind would rise to the challenge. It was so…liberating!
I’ve since then used the challenge to fuel my writing by providing a large stock of stories to edit and submit throughout the year. Of course, there are a lot of duds throughout the month of May, but there are also a handful of pretty good stories that I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.
StADa: What advice do you have for someone thinking about embarking on the challenge or longing to boost their creativity?
AAH: To those thinking about embarking on the StoryADay challenge, I recommend a bit of prep before May 1st hits. I like to do two things in particular to get ready: 1.) Gather prompts.
I love using the prompts provided by storyaday.org, but I also love combining them with picture prompts. I keep a Pinterest board of photo prompts, which I add to all year long. 2.) Pick some specific target markets.
Last year, I collected a list of (mostly) themed deadlines for magazines I wanted to get into. Stuff like an anthology about pirates or magical cats. The themed nature of those deadlines helped spark stories and having a set market to send the stories to, in turn, kept me on the ball in June and July–editing the stories and getting them sent out instead of letting them languish in an abandoned file.
To those longing to boost their creativity–get into writing prompts! Especially photo prompts, if your mind works well with them. There is so much amazing art out there that I find especially inspiring. Prompts are a good way to push you out of your comfort zone. Try writing a genre you’ve never written before–even if it’s scary.
The result might not be so good, but it will stretch you in a way that writing in your normal groove won’t. Oh, and try StoryADay if you can!
StADa: What’s next for you?
AAH: Well, May is nearing, so I’m staring down the barrel of another StoryADay challenge. I hope to participate again this year, even if I don’t hit the 31 story goal like I normally do. I’m also knee-deep in editing a YA Science-Fantasy novel, which I hope to one day do something with. But in the meantime, I just keep focusing on writing better and better short stories. That’s where my heart is really at.
Thanks, Alexis and all the best for your future success!
Alexis A. Hunter revels in the endless possibilities of speculative fiction. Over fifty of her short stories have appeared recently in Shimmer, Cricket Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, and more. To learn more, visit www.alexisahunter.com.
If you haven’t tried Morning Pages, you are likely grousing that you don’t have time for such thing. I hear you. But I say you’ll create time by doing them. Because you’ll have more clarity, less anxiety and more of an ability to focus on what you really want to do throughout the day. So try it:
I first heard about Morning Pages and The Artist’s Way [af] from a co-workers in 1999 — not a writer, by the way, just a guy trying to get his stuff together.
I started turning my sporadic-journalling into Morning Pages and, like Charlotte, have revisited them over the years. It sounds too simple to be any use, but seriously: write three pages of stream of consciousness stuff as close to the start of your day as you can (even if you have to write “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over until you get so sick of yourself that you DO think of something to write) and you will fine yourself more creative, more calm and ready for anything.
I highly recommend the Artist’s Dates that Cameron talks about too. More on that later.
Help! I’m suffering an explosion of creativity and I can’t seem to stop myself finding time and ideas for writing!
How It All Began
One recent evening I tucked myself into my armchair, put my feet up, pulled my knitting on to my lap and settled down in the flickering black and white light coming from my television as we fired up a couple of episodes of The Twilight Zone — our nightly non-guilty pleasure.
I love The Twilight Zone. The stories are so imaginative, they’re not afraid to take a dark turn (!); they’re stylish, well-crafted and intellectually stimulating.
I’ve been telling myself that they’re great research for my own story telling efforts.
And in a way they are. They’re all about a character (often a man, aged 36, oddly enough) who needs something, lacks something, wants something. Great stuff for storytellers.
But at the end of every Season 1 episode, I keep seeing this little line of text that makes me uneasy.
“Based on the short story…”
Short Stories Are Not Screenplays
I follow a lot of working writers’ blogs, but people who are getting paid to write the equivalent of short stories now are often working in TV. The influences they cite are other TV shows and writers. I follow those links and spend hours reading about how those other writers write and find success.
But I’m not writing screenplays. I need to remind myself how to show a scene in words, not images.
So I’ve embarked on another challenge (you know how I love a challenge, right?) and I invite you to come along with me.
Following Ray Bradbury’s prescription for writers (watch it here. It’s worth the time) I’m trying to read a short story every day, especially those from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — stories with some staying-power. I’m also trying to read one essay a day (though accessible, classic essays are proving harder to find than good short stories) and one poem a day (oddly enough, though poems are shorter, I’m finding it harder to rouse myself to do this part of the program).
The Results Are In
I’ve been doing this for just over a week and, as I said, I’ve been ‘suffering’ under an explosion of creativity. I’ve written one, long-for-me, 6,000 word short story and sketched out ideas for more than 50 more (yes, 5-0!) in a few different themes/genres, started my second story and written four blog posts.
And my kids are on vacation!
But I can’t seem to stop myself finding time to read and write.
I’ve rediscovered the joy of both reading and writing. I’m sneaking off, staying up late, ignoring people I love, to read — and little of it is on Facebook or Feedly or Twitter. I’m reading well-crafted fiction and non-fiction that has stood the test of time. And I’m bursting with ideas, references and imagery — I’m so full of ideas that I can’t hold them back. I simply have to write. (This is not always the case with me. I always feel better when I’m writing but I’m quite good at being lazy and grumpy instead).
Want to join me in being more creative, more productive, and more joyful? Start reading and writing today!