The Story Match Challenge—Day 10: July 16, 2015

Today I wanted to do something a little different—I wanted to try and write two stories. I remembered that I was a few stories behind, which is my own fault for taking five days to decide what I wanted to do in the months and years lying ahead. So, today, I thought I would try for two stories. Word targets were 3,150 and 4,000.
Why’s Behind the Story Match Challenge:
To recap, this challenge came out of me wanting to see what real writers did, and then trying it for myself. I was feeling very uncertain of myself, in spite of being free to finally pursue what I had wanted to do for a very long time, and I needed a little direction. I don’t know what you folks do when you feel like this, but I go looking to see if there are people out there who are where I want to be, and then I take a look at what they’re doing and see if there is anything in there that acts as a pointer. And I think the thing that stands out for me is that writers write.
Pretty obvious, but how, why and did I want to write that much each day, every day? Did I, in fact, really want to write as a full-time thing? Or was I content with just playing the game? So, I read a lot of bloggery, but what I mostly got stuck on was the bloggery of Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Chuck Wendig and Bob Mayer. Why? Because when I first researched independent publishing, these guys were the first blogs I saved to favourites so I could always find them, and if they all write something, I don’t get much further down my interesting blogs list.
Now, the thing about these guys is that they’re all making a living from their writing, and they’ve all been doing it a hell of a lot longer than I have, so I read, and I learned, and then one of them, Dean Wesley Smith, had this crazy idea that he was going to write a story every day for the month of July. I followed his progress for five days and I thought I’d like to try something similar (only without the publishing at the end, because I wanted to try something different with the completed stories), so I created this challenge, to write a story each day Dean does and try to write as many words.
Why the word minimum? Not because I want to write more than Dean each day—because that’s just a dumb idea for a goal—but because I’ve been writing a lot of flash fiction lately, and I thought that it wouldn’t be fair to count a flash fiction story as the same as a short, hence the word goal each day, which is based on the length of Dean’s story. Essentially, I’m making sure I don’t cheat on the challenge… Heaven help me when I get a story that doesn’t QQwantQQ to be as long as the day’s minimum. I guess I’ll just have to deal with it when I get to it.
I also set a minimum because I have now written more than 450 pieces of flash fiction, and I wanted to write a story in the mid-length that the story magazine market looks for. Dean has been very successful at that—and so has Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Both of them put up a short story as a free read each week. You can find this week’s here for Dean and here for Kristine. I figured I could use this challenge as impetus to practice writing to that length.
And finally, I wanted to learn what I could expect of myself as a writer, what I was capable of, and what was unreasonable. My lifestyle is different to Dean’s and Kristine’s and Bob’s and Chuck’s and pretty much every other writer whose blogs I’ve read, so what works for any one of them probably won’t work for me. I wanted to work out what my lifestyle looked like as a writer, and this challenge gave me impetus for that.
Going Forward:
Today, I wanted to write two stories – partly to catch up, but also because I’m really enjoying myself and I know that when the challenge is over I will be trying something new. So, when I went over to Dean’s blog to see how he was going with the challenge—and to see if he’d written anything else on writing in general, which he does quite often, I was surprised to find he was thinking of winding it up early. At first, I was a little disappointed, but then I read why and it made sense.
It also matches some of the thoughts I had this morning before heading out to read the blog, about change and about where I wanted to go next. I won’t continue to write a short story a day when this challenge is done, early or not—there’s a thing I want to try with novels, and there’s a bunch of publishing stuff I need to do with the stories I’ve finished (both for this challenge, and earlier in the year) and the stories I’ve published.
Will I set another challenge? I think I will, because Dean is right when he talks about the power of setting a challenge (here, here, here, here and here). Without this challenge, I wouldn’t have written and finished the stories I’ve managed so far. I wouldn’t have been able to work on developing a writing habit as effectively, and I wouldn’t have discovered some wonderful characters or found the start of, or idea sparks for, a couple of novels.
And that makes me realise that challenges are really goals in disguise, and everyone needs goals if they are to succeed.
What else I learned today:
Chalk up another lesson, that I kind of knew—Nothing is set in stone—coupled with one I’m not so familiar with—it’s okay to change your mind and stop something earlier than intended as the world changes around you and your goals and directions change. Finishing before the time I’ve originally set, is something I’ve never allowed myself to do, even when that would be the more sensible thing to do. Maybe it’s time I practiced that…maybe… let me think on that some more. I’m still deciding on the next step.
Today’s Challenge Results:
I started one story and put the title up for a second but the recent late nights caught up with me and I started to feel unwell so I took a nap. And then I decided I needed an early night. So, a blowout day, but that’s okay, they happen.
Words Written Today: 2,130


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