One challenge that appears often in the lives and blogs of my fellow writers is the Story a Day challenge, which, as you might guess, is the challenge to write a story every day. It’s a fantastic idea; even if the story isn’t that good, you’re still writing, you’re still getting stuff out there, and it’s a great way to get ideas going or to create the start of something. I’ve tried doing this myself, but I always run into the problem of not having enough time to write a full fleshed story. I can’t write flash fiction unless I have a very particular spark to fuel it, and you can’t force that spark every day. So what happens whenever I try is that I get a lot of great stories started, but I never get around to finishing them, because I run out of time and it’s already the next day so I have to start a new one or else I get really far behind, and I’ll get back to it, really, but I never do, it all gets shuffled in the fold and by the time I do get back around to it, I’ve forgotten what the whole plan was with that story and I don’t know how to finish it.
It’s quite a conundrum. I’ve filled notebooks with unfinished stories that, if I want to conclude them, I have to start them over because that’s just how I write. My method works against the Story a Day challenge in two ways: I work best when I write a story start to finish, and I am a very, very slow writer. Some people can whip out a story in a matter of hours; I am not one of those people. And that’s okay; I like my slowness in my writing, and if I try to force myself to be faster, it’s just a mess. So I’ve always just resigned myself to be the type of person who won’t be doing any Story a Day challenges any time soon.
But this year, I came up with a new idea, especially since I want to produce lots of stories this year to shop to publishers and journals and also get a hefty bunch together for a new collection in 2017. I might not be able to write a story every day this year, but I can sure as hell outline a story every day! Now, I’ve already accidentally missed a day last week, but it was easy enough to catch back up. I’ve already got a solid handful of stories mapped out from start to finish, so when I finish the current one, I just start up on the next, I know where it’s going and how I’m going to get there, and it’s just a matter of doing the work. I might not get the chance to write them all in 2016 (but wouldn’t that be cool?), but I’ll still have lots to work on and plenty of sources for if I do hit a Writer’s Blocky sort of day.
365 story ideas, all mapped out and ready to go. Not quite as nice as 365 full stories in a year, but knowing they will eventually become 365 stories is pretty damn exciting.
Any other slow writers out there? Do you find it nearly impossible to write a story in a day, or are you one of the blessed who can pull it off?