Fears About the Challenge

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Fears About the Challenge
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein

Fears About the Challenge

Yup, I’m not exempt.

Yesterday, I announced a personal challenge to write at least one short story every week for 100 weeks. My personal report date will be Sunday at midnight every week, beginning with this coming Sunday, March 26.

I invited others to join me in the challenge. One writer jumped in immediately, and a second one came aboard a few hours later. Others, for varying reasons, said they were “thinking about it.” That’s fine. Hey, whatever you need to do.

But all of that gave rise to this little article. Because believe me, I understand. As I wrote above, I’m not exempt from the same silly, unreasoning fears that assail other writers. The difference is, I see them for what they are and don’t let them stop me.

Even with all the writing I’ve done in the past, I was assailed with these silly, unreasoning fears almost from the time I published yesterday’s Journal. Here’s a rough transcript of my self-talk since then:

1. What about the novel? Writing short stories will take away from writing the novel, won’t it?

Okay, first, as Ray Bradbury said in the Quotes of the Day yesterday, “A new piece of work will drag the old piece of work after it. … I go do another short story. The energy I borrow from that, I go back to the novel, and boom, everything comes into focus again. .. Find ways to borrow energy.”

So this challenge and the stories that will result are my way of borrowing energy.

And second—Oh, you mean the novel I started way back in January and then all but abandoned during all of February and most of March so far? That novel? Writing one short story per week certainly won’t interfere with writing (or not writing) the novel, will it? (grin)

2. But the first story due on Sunday, March 26! before midnight!

Yeah, I know. I set the deadline, remember?

But first, it’s only a short story. Second, from the next hour on the clock as I write this until midnight Sunday night, there are 65 hours. Some of those hours will be lost to sleep, but if I a) want to write a short story, and b) can’t steal a few hours to do just that, then where do I get off calling myself a writer?

3. Still, this coming Sunday is so close!

Okay, fine. Here’s the thing—nothing bad will happen if I write the stupid story, and nothing bad will happen if I miss writing it. At worst, I’ll slide my opening date to April 2. Or even to a different day and time. That’s all up to me, and none of it matters.

A streak doesn’t start with 0. A streak starts with 1. Duh.

That said, I refuse to slide the opening date. The whole purpose of a challenge in the first place is to drive the writer to the keyboard, isn’t it?

4. Ah, but the pressure of the looming deadline makes it all but impossible to come up with a good story idea.

Ah, baloney. That one’s easy. I don’t need a story idea. I only need a character with a problem in a setting, don’t I?

I only need to slip the veil in my subconscious aside and peek in on a character, then write down what happens in that world and what s/he says and does as the story unfolds. In other words, I need only trust myself and the character and write whatever comes.

5. But what if the story’s no good?

Right. Don’t let’s get confused. My job as a writer isn’t to judge the story and decide whether or not it’s “good.” My job as a writer is simply to provide the story. The reader decides whether the story is good or not and to what degree.

Of course, you are also a reader with an opinion, but—and get this—it’s only one opinion. Fortunately. Because no other reader will see the story exactly the same way you do. If you love it, some will agree, some will be indifferent, and some will hate it. Likewise if you think it sucks pond scum from all 50 states, some will agree, some will be indifferent, and some will love it.

Okay? Now, as Bradbury also said, “Don’t think.” Thinking spoils the creative process. Get over yourself and just write.

Barring any unforeseen external complications, I’ll have the first short story of this challenge started and finished today. Then I can return to the novel and/or start “worrying” about the story that’s due on April 2. (grin)

There’s still plenty of room in the pool. Come on in. I’ll report numbers for all participants each week on Monday morning. (And yes, if you write two or more stories during a week, I’ll report each story.)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Branding” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/branding-2/. And click the next link too. (grin)

See his first post on “Branding” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/branding/.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 860 words

Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal 2 (WCG9SF4)

Day 1…… 3231 words. Total words to date…… 3231
Day 2…… 2990 words. Total words to date…… 6221
Day 3…… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 8026
Day 4…… 2025 words. Total words to date…… 10051
Day 5…… 1451 words. Total words to date…… 11502
Day 6…… 1886 words. Total words to date…… 13388

Total fiction words for March……… 3337
Total fiction words for 2023………… 56161
Total nonfiction words for March… 14140
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 55470
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 111631

Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 72
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. See My Best Advice for Fiction Writers at https://hestanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/My-Best-Advice-for-Fiction-Writers.pdf.

9 thoughts on “Fears About the Challenge”

  1. Hello, Harvey!
    So cool, I’m also in!
    First, I wanted to wait until I finish the story I already started, then I just realized it can be the first in the streak. I will definitely do this challenge! Last year I did a similar one for half a year, every second week I wrote a short story. This year I will do it in every week.
    And I have tons of ideas. I won’t necessarily use all of them, of course, and I am eager to see what new stories will come to the paper. I’m excited!
    …and about if there will be good stories, there should be. Everyone writes good stories and sometimes stories not everyone likes, why would I be the exception? And I’m tired of writing stories that others see as good (or I think they see as good) and I don’t really like. I want to write stories I like. And I also want to read stories I like.

  2. Wow, it’s like you pulled my personal stream of stupid self-talk out of my own head! This was encouraging and gave me the push I needed. I’m definitely in.

    • Yeah, I’ve heard that a few times. 🙂 That’s because the conscious, critical mind works pretty much the same in all of us.

  3. The idea of joining you Harvey, frankly makes butterflies in my stomach. But I have been wanting to kickstart my riding. This would be a good way. And to keep from hiding and shame because they didn’t write the short story, I’d rather join you in the challenge and follow through. Count me in.

    • Yup, butterflies, fears, etc. They affect everyone. And the only way to defeat them is to push them aside and do what you want. 🙂 Welcome aboard, Loyd.

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