You know what I’m horrible at? Short stories. From an outsider perspective that looks ridiculous, I know, because I’m a writer, right? I just wrote a 100k book in three months, how hard could a short story be compared to that? The answer: incredibly hard, to the point of not really being comparable. Writing a novel uses completely different skills and techniques than writing short stories, and those are skills and techniques i do not possess. But that’s what practice is for, right?
Yesterday I said that I was going to do something crazy and dumb while on tour, and you probably though I was talking about skydiving or shark hunting or shaking people’s hands, but no, I’m talking about a ridiculous short story challenge. During the month of April I intend to write a short story every day. Consider it my own little version of NaNoWriMo, but with short stories instead of a novel. Many of them will be VERY short, and most of them will be awful, but that’s the point–I’m doing this to force myself to learn, and to keep my writing going while on tour. It’s incredibly difficult to novel while doing a lot of traveling (at least for me), but cranking out short crappy stories is something I (probably) will be able to do. With any luck, by the end of the month I’ll be better at this stuff. If any of them are good enough for public consumption, I’ll post them here.
Want to join me on this mad endeavor? I think it’s a great opportunity to learn some new things, and I’d love to commiserate with anyone nuts enough to join in. Here are a few rules and guidelines to help us along:
1) Start by reading this post from Eric James Stone. It’s got some valuable advice that I know will be specifically handy for me, and probably for you.
2) I’m setting the minimum at 200 words, though most of my stories will likely be longer; it’s possible to have shorter story, but I specifically want to stop myself from writing “There once was a man, he lived and he died” kind of stories. 200 words is short while still being long enough to force me to take it seriously.
3) Each story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’re trying to learn how to write short stories, not random 200-word space-fillers.
4) As long as you end up with 30 stories, one per day, it doesn’t matter which day they were actually written on–so if you get in the zone and do more than one at a time, you can afford to slack off. This will be handy for me, as some of my tour days involve 14 hours of driving, plus I plan to take Sundays off.
5) If you post about your quest on Twitter or Facebook, use the hashtag #NaShoStoMo. Which totally sounds like the name of Quasimodo’s brother.