Ok, time to get serious now, folks. Time to stop frakkin’ around and spending my writing time blabbering in my journal or waxing philosophical about books or the careers of other writers. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, but my fiction writing is never going to get done if I never, well, DO IT. Nike’s right, and so are all the writing teachers and buddies I’ve ever had who would keep encouraging me to ‘just write’. Because reading about writing or talking about writing can never replace the most important act of a writer—to write!
So I’m giving myself a personal kick-in-the-butt challenge, and I’m making this a public commitment to you so that I will (hopefully) follow through on it. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to hold myself accountable to something larger than myself, even just symbolically, so that I wouldn’t backslide into unproductive patterns of not-writing or (even worse) coming down on myself for not writing. This blog’s purpose is to keep me writing, and to keep you posted on my writing life in order to connect with you, but also to keep me motivated to keep going. Writing can be such a solitary and lonely practice, and I need all the help and support I can get.
Ok, so here’s the challenge—partially inspired by the challenge I put out to my friends on Facebook not long ago, to write a short short story in their status updates, which I’m glad to say several friends did—I am going to write a short story of any length (and I mean any length—like if I can tell the story in five words then it’s all good!), one per day, for the next seven days. I will start with today (Tuesday, March 9, 2010) and end next Monday (March 15, 2010). The purpose of this kick-start exercise is two-fold: one, to get me back into the practice of writing; and two, to help me hone my storytelling skills so that I can finish some of the fiction pieces I’ve been working on and get them out into the world. This challenge is also partially inspired by a workshop with Ana Menendez that I wish I could take at the Centrum Writers’ Conference in lovely Port Townsend. Ana’s workshop is going to do what she calls a “Van Gogh Story Marathon” and write a story a day, with the knowledge that even a master of craft like Van Gogh started out with terrible paintings, and through practice, practice and more practice, was able to improve and become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.
Unfortunately, as much as I love Port Townsend, where I spent a fair amount of time last year during my Windcall retreat, I don’t think I’ll have the funds to make it to the conference this year. So this seven-day challenge will be my own homegrown version of Ms. Menendez’ marathon. The stories all need to have a beginning, middle and an end, and I’ll be focusing on completing a narrative arc, as small as it may be, in each piece. They don’t have to be perfect or even that good (and most often will not be). The point is to write something, finish it, and post for public consumption.
I will post my first story by the end of the day, and would love any and all feedback on it once I do. Wish me luck! And if you’re so inspired and need a kick-in-the-pants exercise like this to get your writing going, please feel free to join me in my challenge. Write away!