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In which I read you a short story prompt
How to soar in your writing life…and as a result, the WHOLE of your life.
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What do you need to do to help you soar in your writing life? Join me for a Lesson in Creative Thermodynamics!
keeping one foot in each world—living up to your obligations to other and saying ‘yes’ to your need to write—-takes time and practice.
I took a week away from my writing. And I want to tell you why, and why it might (or might not) be a good idea for you to do the same.
It’s not like the timing was perfect…I’m two weeks out from putting on the 13th StoryADay May challenge, and this year I decided to make it easier (on you, not me) by creating a whole new Fun-Sized Challenge. (Have you signed up yet?)
But frankly, the time is never right. Not for vacation, not for a crisis, and certainly not for you to become a writer.
So what are we to do?Continue reading “A Foot in Both Worlds”
I found this in my Free Little Library the other day and it prompted a powerful lesson that I thought I’d share here as advice for writers. If you’re struggling to write and wondering if you’re any good, Snoopy has a lesson for you.Continue reading “You Don’t have To Be Brilliant From The Beginning”
NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writers’ Month, is well underway. By this point in week two your story might have become a little bit, well, stuck.
In these next two episodes I share tips and advice from myself and others about how to get unstuck when you still have 30,000 words to write!
Unsticking Yourself thread on Twitter: https://stada.me/unstuck
Tony Conaway’s article on public readings: https://stada.me/tonytalk
Further reading: What To Do When You’re Stuck In The Middle of Your Novel, (https://stada.me/wdstuck) from Writer’s Digest, with advice from the excellent DIYMFA book by Gabriela Pereira
James Scott Bell’s book: Write Your Novel From The Middle
In which I talk about when (writerly) promiscuity is good, and announce the winners of the September giveaway of Windy Lynn Harris’s book, “Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays”.
Bonus points if you can spot the sound of my kid’s hamster trying to break out, in the background. #IThoughtHamstersWereSupposedToBeNocturnal
Writing a longer work like a novel can get a bit overwhelming. Today I encourage you to use short stories to explore areas of your novel’s world that you might not have dug deeply into. This can help unblock the writing process and get you back to a place where you’re enjoying your writing.
Write on Wednesday prompts: https://stada.me/wow
The problem with doing something hard (like writing) is not that you aren’t good. It’s that it’s hard to know how long to work before you decide that you really aren’t any good.
(Hint: It’s longer than you think. And you may never be able to tell!)
How to keep going when you’re not sure if you should.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
My author interviews at NaNoWriMo’s blog: http://blog.nanowrimo.org/
Jerry Jenkins: http://jerrysguild.com
DIYMFA’s 101 Course: https://members.diymfa.com/101-course/
In Week 2 of StoryADay May 2018 we’re working on craft-based writing prompts (character desires, conflict, structures, openings and endings). Picking up skills and putting down words.
But now that the novelty has worn off, what can you do to rekindle your excitement about writing every day for a month?
In this episode I give you my top three tips for a successful month of writing an introduce the new StoryADay Superstars program: https://storyaday.org/storyaday-superstars
(membership comes with a month of free access to Duotrope, my favourite online source for writing markets)
Flash fiction is more than just a collection of fewer than 1000 words. Flash fiction must…FLASH!
In this episode I talk about,
I also remind listeners that it’s almost time for the March SWAGr post, where we make our commitments for the coming month.
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
This week I talk about ways to make your life easier by embracing the idea of decision-making, both in your writing and in your writing practice.
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
Not living up to your writing resolutions? Learn how to harness guilt, dismiss shame, and focus on the things that will help you be more productive and creative.
Steal a story from another source, and use it as inspiration
Great places to look for stories like this include:
Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.
via Neil Gaimans Journal.
This except comes from a compendium of New Year’s Wishes from the master of modern storytelling, and champion of creatives, Neil Gaiman.
All of the New Year’s wishes are inspirational but this one struck me particularly.
Try to do something creative today.
Then do the same tomorrow.
It’s worth it. I promise.
Need help getting started? Breaking Writers’ Block: A StoryADay.org Guideis chock-full of 60+ suggestions for ways to get started, even on the hardest day.
I was lucky enough to go to see Cabaret on Broadway this past December. The Emcee was played by Alan Cumming who, like me, is from Scotland.
I was absolutely transfixed by his performance and I couldn’t help being so very grateful that he had stuck with his talent through what must have been a challenging road from Carnoustie to Studio 54 in NYC, in part so that I, a total stranger, could experience a few moments of joy.
It struck me:
If he had let all those doubts, naysayers, fears and nerves gang up on him, I would have missed out on an absolutely transcendent moment.
Alan Cumming can’t possibly know what my trip to NYC and the fabulous performances in that show meant to me (unless he’s reading this. Hi, Alan!). But he did his bit, for 35 or so years, to become the performer he is today, and I thank him for that.
Do you understand that you can’t know who your stories will touch?
Are you brave enough to write the best stories you can, the truest stories you can muster, and put them out into the world to find their audience?
Are you strong enough to keep writing, year after year, using your gifts just for their own sake?
I hope so.
Because you never know who is out there, needing to hear your story.
Help! I’m suffering an explosion of creativity and I can’t seem to stop myself finding time and ideas for writing!
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…”
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).
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!
OK, so I’ve used my real-life Story Cubes to generate a prompt once before, but now the cute game has an even cuter app, and who am I to resist?
So, behold: this week’s story prompt comes from the Rory’s Story Cubes app.
I’ll leave it up to you whether you use ALL the cubes, but I think I have to insist that you use at least five. Good luck!
(P.S. With a shooting star, a magic wand, a turtle and a world, how many of you are going to be writing Discworld fan-fic?)
- You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
- You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
- Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
- Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!
Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook
Some tweets/updates you might use:
Don’t miss my StoryCube-inspired short story: #WriteOnWed #storyaday
This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is dice-based! #storyaday
Come and write with us: #WriteOnWed #storyaday
See my story – and write your own, today: #WriteOnWed #storyaday
Sometimes it’s easy to come up with a subject, a character, a problem or an issue on which to hang your short story.
Some days it’s not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write. I just means getting started might be harder.
If you’re finding it hard to start writing today, hop on over to the Flickr “Interesting” page (pictures someone at Flickr has tagged as ‘interesting’ in the past 7 days).
Grab a picture and start writing. See where it leads.
I’ve been reading Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale by Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook, which is a rollocking, inspiring come-along-with-me look over the shoulder of one of the busiest writers in British TV…Here are some excellent insights for less-experienced writers, pulled from the book:
I’ve been reading Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale, , which is a rollocking, inspiring come-along-with-me look over the shoulder of the busiest writer in British TV. The book contains correspondence (mostly email) between Davies, the show-runner of the modern Doctor Who series and Cook, a journalist. The emails are written while Davies is in the midst of dreaming up, writing and producing not just one but three concurrent TV shows. It has a breathlessness and reality that you wouldn’t get if you just sat a writer down and said,
“So, how do you write?”
I came away from the book with a sense that successful, highly-paid writers have it no easier than the rest of us, even though we daydream that they do. They still get blocked, they still have to sit down and do the work, and in fact, it might be harder for them because the stakes are higher.
Here are some of my favorite excerpts about writing so far.
I spent all day stuck, not writing, because I couldn’t work out a way for the Doctor to meet Miss Hartigan… I couldn’t work out how to do it, where to do it, when. All day, gone. Pissed off. Then I sat down to write, with no solution and… thought of it! Immediately. Obvious. Simple. If I’d started sooner…Ah, the only way to write is to write. For all my banging on about what to do if you’re really stuck on something, there’s nothing dumber than sitting there writing nothing at all. Stupid bastard job.
I was astounded to run across the following line from this seemingly-somewhat-arrogant writer, written the night before a meeting to lay out a new series’ story ideas with other writers and production staff.
Oh god. I am dreading it. I feel out of my depth.
(Now bear in mind that Davies has been working in TV, very successfully, since the 1980s. He has created and written around 10 original TV productions,before he even got to the mammoth 5-series of Doctor Who and its two spin-offs. )
Most of the correspondence in this book is florid, energetic, conversational. This staccato yelp really leapt out at me. It seemed both true and familiar. Only Davies has a contract and a budget and a huge staff of people relying on him for their employment so he can’t scurry away from his fears and just stop writing.
…truth, in writing, is the only important thing. That’s what it’s for. The whole time, every day, all these pages, all my life, means sitting here looking for something – some line, some insight, some microsecond – that makes me think: yes. Yes, that’s true. That’s real. I recognize that. I know it. That’s all I’m after! It might be a truth discovered ten million times before by other people, but that doesn’t matter. If you discover it for yourself, then that makes everything worthwhile. No wonder writing is such hard work! You’re strip mining your own head, every day, searching for this stuff – and then those moments of revelation are like a godsend.
The discovery of a truth like that doesn’t come along often, though every other moment is spent working towards it.
It’s so worth it, when it happens. Oh my word. Gold dust. It feels like vindication.
I think I’m going to tape this one up above my desk.