This is another in the non-series series of posts that I hope you might find useful.
This morning I rolled out of bed right at 2 a.m. I’ve been getting up between 2 and 3 for quite awhile now. I consider it working the morning shift. Quiet time. Writing time.
And on this particular morning, I awoke realizing I had a short story due. In April 2014, I challenged myself to write at least one new short story each week. To help keep myself motivated, I created a website (HEStanbrough.com) and posted those stories live each week. I left each story up, free for anyone to read, until the next week’s story went up. Some of you, maybe, have been along for the ride. If so, thanks, I appreciate the company.
Well this morning, in addition to realizing I had a deadline due, I also experienced an epiphany.
After a year of following Heinlein’s Rules (Heinlein’s Business Habits) and Writing Into the Dark, I realized the greatest gift that process has given me. It’s rewarded me dozens of times in various ways, not the least of which are 59 short stories in 52 weeks, four novels (plus two underway) and a novella. Oh, plus the compilation of sixteen collections of short fiction and a trilogy. All of that in the past year. Cool.
But the most valuable gift I’ve received as a result of following Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Into the Dark is the ability to wake up on Sunday morning, suddenly realize that I have a story due on Monday morning, and feel Not One Ounce of Trepidation.
Instead, a sense of calm settles over me. I have no idea what I will write, how long it will be or what genre it will be. But because I follow Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Into the Dark, I know that sometime during the day, a character will come up to me. He will point to his problem and say something like, “Would’ya just look at this? Now what am I gonna do?”
Then he’ll trudge off into his setting and, being the nice guy that I am, I’ll follow him. I’ll watch and listen carefully as he solves his problem. I’ll also record the result, and at the end of the day I will have written a new short story. Incredible. I am without a doubt the luckiest man on Earth, Lou Gehrig notwithstanding.
To top it all off, this will be the 52nd consecutive week of writing and publishing at least one new short story per week. So there y’go. In April 2014 I challenged myself to write at least one short story per week every week for a year. Today, over on HEStanbrough.com, I posted “A False Sense of Finality” and with that short story completed my challenge.
Of course, I also have a streak going. I’ve written at least one short story every week for 52 weeks straight. So I’ll keep that going for awhile longer yet, but I don’t feel quite as much pressure over it now that I reached my goal. That was a major milestone, and I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.
Of course, a short story takes only a few hours to write and I was writing only one a week. Seems easy, right?
All I can say is I hope you’ll try it. If you enjoy writing short fiction, set a challenge for yourself to write one short story per week for a year. Lay your ears back and attack. If you fail, what’s the worst that will happen? Nothing. And if you succeed, at the end of a year you will have written 52 short stories and (I hope) compiled them in to ten 5-story collections and five 10-story collections. So you will have written 52 stories and created 67 publications.
But what about Heinlein’s Rules? And what about Writing Into the Dark? Will those things work for you?
In a word, Yes.
But you have to write.
Back on April 11 with the next post in the Microsoft Word for Writers series. Until then, happy writing!
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