Well, I managed to complete the 30-in-30 personal challenge last week and it was everything I had hoped it would be. Before I spend any time talking about the lessons I learned on this, let’s have a quick recap of the 30 days:
- February 19: Title: The Exhibit (946)
- February 20: Title: The Blood Red Moon (759)
- February 21: Title: Politics (6)
- February 22: Title: The Story (6)
- February 23: nothing… final edits on my book and packaging
- February 24: Title: Conscription (1,189)
- February 25: Title: The Old Boys Club (767)
- February 26: Title: To be a God (1,064)
- February 27: Title: The Grunts Have It (256)
- February 28: Title: A Disturbing Trend (978)
- February 29: Title: Responsibilty (16)
- March 1: Title: The Power of Can’t (501)
- March 2: Title: Explosion (6)
- March 3: Title: Of Men and Mermaids (1,387)
- March 4: Title: Our Friend the Poisonous Gas (590)
- March 5: Title: In Search of an Opinion (391)
- March 6: Title: The Herd Mentality (815)
- March 7: Title: Fellowship (6)
- March 8: Title: The Truth about Living (950)
- March 9: Title: The Verdict (352)
- March 10: Title: What is Reality? (6)
- March 11: Title: Surrogate (2,806)
- March 12: Title: Water Guns At High Noon (1,061)
- March 13: Title: Dungeons and Dragons (6)
- March 14: Title: Departure (975)
- March 15: Title: The Move (6)
- March 16: Title: Save Money, Die Better (598)
- March 17: Title: Wii Come in Peace (728)
- March 18: Title: A Bad Invasion Day (234)
- March 19: Title: The End of the Journey (6)
A Quick Recap
So how do I think I did? Well, I didn’t quite manage 30 short stories in 30 days like I had planned. I came close, but you will note the one day where I did editing instead (for submission no less), so I don’t feel like I failed too badly.
I wrote more six-word stories than I had intended (8), but I still don’t consider that a negative. I still needed to come up with a story for each and I did have to plant butt in chair to actually write them so that’s still alright.
The 29 stories I wrote totalled 17, 411 words. That’s an average of just over 580 words per day. If I were to maintain that rate for the next year I would have over 178,000 words written. That’s one very long novel or two shorter ones. Not bad for a year.
I also wrote a real variety of stories. There were Science Fiction, Fantasy, Parody, Literary, Horror (Zombie), and several other genres I never thought to write in.
Lesson 1 – Where do I get my story ideas from?
The whole personal challenge was extremely rewarding to me. I had originally envisioned pulling story ideas out of the daily newspaper and twisting them with some SciFi or Fantasy theme. The newspaper was the source of some stories, but instead of the majority starting that way, only about 20% came out of it. The rest of the stories came from a multitude of sources. That was a huge learning for me. As I went along, story ideas came more easily. I think it was simply a matter of training myself to keep my eyes open for ideas from everywhere. As a result, I also have several book-length ideas to work with that I didn’t have before.
Lesson 2: I can write Anything
As I alluded to earlier in the article, I did write a number of stories in genres I never expected. I think that was partially because of Lesson 1. I would see or hear something and then I’d throw an interesting “What if?” at it. For example, I never thought I would write horror, especially horror with Zombies. Now, several of my colleagues seem to have a special affinity to zombies for some reason, so I do hear about them more now than I ever did before, still I never thought I would write about them.
Then I had a story idea. 600 words later I had a story.
Is the story good enough to send out? No, but then none of them are in their current forms. Every story I wrote needs some editing. Just like during Nanowrimo, the 30-days was intended to produce content.
Lesson 3: A goal is a Great thing!
I know I’ve set goals for myself before. I think we probably all have. Just like most of you, I’ve had differing levels of success. In this case, I set a very specific goal. I think that’s why I was successful. So the lesson to keep in mind here is Always make your goals specific and time-sensitive.
Lesson 4: Practice makes perfect
Yup, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? But, as we should all know by now, the more you write, the easier it becomes and (hopefully) the better it gets.
Lesson 5: Writing is great therapy
Over the course of the 30 days, I experienced a lot of differing emotions: happiness, sadness, anger. That’s par for the course for everyone, isn’t it? The cool thing with trying to write a short story every day is I was able to channel those emotions into the writing. What that gave me is a range of stories that have different feelings embedded within them. It’s actually kinda cool when I go back and read them; I can often see how I was doing that day. That’s something that tends to get lost in longer fiction since the entire story tends to reflect an overarching emotional state.
Would I do it Again?
That’s an easy one. I most definitely would do it again! There’s something about challenges like this that bring out the best in me. I have had huge benefits from Nanowrimo the past two years that I’ve competed and this little self-challenge was no different. Now I just have to get a few more of my fellows to put their fear aside.
…and that raises a question from me… how many of you wrote any short fiction during the 30 days? I’d love to hear what you managed to get down.