So you saw me do the 30 Day Flash Fiction Challenge and you’re feeling like you want to give it a try too. Good for you. I think we can always use more short fiction in the world and one of the best ways to improve your writing is to write … a lot … Every. Single. Day. To be honest, before the challenge I hadn’t been doing that at all. That’s why it came about. It was a way to whip my lazy behind into shape. It worked. If you want to establish the habit of writing fiction this challenge is a good place to start. Here are some things I learned along the way.
I’m very much influenced by what other people are doing. Constantly looking around at what everyone else is doing to see what I should do is my weakness. Most writers I read about wake up early and write in the morning. I’ve tried to force myself to do that too. It doesn’t work for me. In the morning, I write garbage mostly. Waking up too early makes my brain hurt. I’m useless in the morning, but after dinner, once the rest of the day is out of the way writing is a breeze. It stops being torture and starts being magic.
When I first started the Flash Fiction Challenge I decided that I would wake up really early and write a story before the rest of the people in my house got up. (I never learn my lesson.) That was a disaster. I would set the horrible story aside with plans to revise it in the evening. I usually ended up writing something completely different from the first story during my revision time. For a little while, I was writing two stories a day.
Being as hard headed as I am is tough, but I think I’ve finally learned that I need to respect my own creative rhythms and stop trying to be like someone else. I’m useless in the morning. I need to own it and move on.
Story ideas can come from anywhere and there is no shortage of them. Having to write a new story every day put me on high alert for ideas. Every strange story I heard or conversation I overheard had the potential of being a story idea.
Sometimes you need a plan and sometimes you need to throw that plan away. I started out trying to do some outlining for these stories and then I realized that writing an outline for flash fiction was kind of silly. I like to be spontaneous and some of my favorite stories during the challenge were the ones that surprised me. Being flexible is a real asset.
Doing this challenge forced me to write on days I really didn’t want to. Recently I’d been having more days that I didn’t want to write than days I did but making myself do it even when I didn’t want to help me re-establish the habit of writing.
Those are the major lessons I learned from doing the challenge. I’m glad I did it and hope you’ll give it a shot too.