Well, it’s June 1st and Story-a-Day May 2012 is officially over. Last year, I wrote 31 stories. This year, I wrote 37. My word count this year was huge (80,000 words), but really I’m more excited about the actual stories than the word count. Since I only work three days a week now, I had lots of time to focus on my stories.
Let me share my tactics with you – they might not help you, but they definitely worked for me.
Every night at midnight, I’d buzz around Storyaday.org, just waiting for Julie to post the next day’s prompt. The moment she did, I wrote it down in a journal I bought specifically for storyaday. Then I would brainstorm in the journal and write down my ideas. Something I did this year that I definitely didn’t do last year was to make a board on Pinterest with photo that intrigued me and that I thought I could write stories off of. I used roughly 15 photo prompts this month – and really got into the habit of just being able to look at a photo and almost instantly draw ideas from it. I think it’s a skill you have to practice. It’s about getting in the habit of letting your mind open up and explore an image.
I also tried a new word processor this year (though I still monkeyed around on Microsoft Word Starter for some of the challenge) – I downloaded the trial for Scrivener after hearing great reviews about it over at my favorite writing/critiquing website, Scribophile. Scrivener’s actually pretty sweet and really helped out on days where my stories had multiple sections. (Day 12 with it’s time-travel story made Scrivener a huge help!) I definitely recommend taking a look at the program, especially if you’re writing a novel or something with many more parts.
Generally this month, I was able to start writing as soon as I woke up the following morning. Falling asleep at night, I’d think about the story plan I had and play it through my head as I fell asleep. I arranged words and tried to remember them when they came out just right. Then in the morning, I’d know exactly what to write.
Now this didn’t work every time. I still had a few days where I struggled, but not nearly as many as last year. Also, I did work some days this month so I had to spend my 15 minute break, lunch break and any spare moment I could get at work to scribble down bits and pieces of my story for the day. That was mostly frustrating because my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain.
All in all, the challenge was a huge success for me. I’ve a full armada of stories ready to be edited and sent out (watch out, world!) – several of them I’m really stoked about and have high hopes for. Of course, there are the few that I already know are junk and I probably won’t touch.
I highly recommend the Story-a-Day challenge to any writer, especially if you’ve struggled in the past with writer’s block. I’ve learned how to get in the habit of drawing inspiration from prompts, photos and life in general. I’ve learned how to make myself write, to get in the habit. And it feels great.
Until next year, I’ll be back to my usual posts and updates. Thanks for stopping in.