Back in November of last year I did a writing challenge that a friend suggested as an alternative to NaNoWriMo. Instead of working on a single novel, he proposed a flash fiction piece every day for a month.
I had been wanting to do a story a week this year, so I did what I call “story seeds”. The idea was to write something new every day, just whatever came into my head. Then, starting in January, I’d expand them into stories to make my one a week goal.
Well, it worked. In fact, it worked really well. So far this year I have completed nine short stories, and five of them were made from snippets I put together for that November exercise.
I seem to have hit upon a method that works well for me, and I’m going to keep exploring it.
In fact, it’s kind of analogous to a very old memory. Back in high school I went out for the wrestling team, and while I wasn’t good at it and didn’t stick with it long enough to get good (self-discipline being something I still struggle with forty years later) I do recall the old wrestling coach, Coach Saunders.
His philosophy was that the key to endurance training was to keep changing pace. Sprint, then jog, then walk, then do some calisthenics, then another jog, then a sprint, and so on.
Well, it didn’t make sense to me then–when I got tired I wanted to lay down and rest, not do some other damned fool exercise–but I can see the applicability to creative work.
Recently I started feeling burned out working on a story, and I had to let it go unfinished (I’ve made myself a rule that I can’t drag a project out for more than a week.)
But instead of weeping and wailing and gnashing my teeth, and announcing that I could never write again ever, ever, ever I decided to change my pace, just like old Coach Saunders would have said.
I’m going to do sprints for the rest of the month. A story seed a day (or more, if the whim strikes me). So far it seems to be working, I’ve come up with four, each one a couple of hundred words, and each one an idea that makes me want to explore it further.
But I won’t. Not until March 1st. Then I will look at what I have and choose one, and see if I am refreshed enough to go back to doing whole stories.
I never tried the Saunders Method with physical training long enough to see if it works (I expect it does, he was a wise old coot) but I definately feel a creative second wind from changing up my writing goals.
Something other writers might think about. So far it’s working for me. I’ll keep you posted.