The Importance to a Writer of the Personal Challenge

Hi Folks,

Recently I undertook a personal challenge in my writing.

In writing, challenges are often attached to goals. This one was no different.

The challenge was to write at least one short story every day for the month of June 2017. Additionally, almost as an afterthought and to make the challenge a little more difficult, I decided to undertake it “in public.”

A few decades ago, Harlan Ellison set up a desk in a storefront window and wrote short stories, one after another, on a manual typewriter.

A crowd of curious onlookers gathered outside the window.

As he finished each page, Harlan stood and taped it face-out to the window so those interested could read his stories as they were being written.

No editing, and (OMG!) no rewriting. It’s called “writing in public,” and it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

In my version, initially I set up a new Facebook page, titled it Harvey Stanbrough Writing in Public, and started posting my short stories there one scene at a time, as they came out of my head.

After a few days, I remembered that what you post to Facebook is there pretty much forever. So I created a new dedicated page over on my main website and started posting the scenes there.

That was clunky at best.

Because of some family commitments, I finally ended the challenge after only 8 days. However, I had 8 new short stories I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

So I decided to do it again.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I quickly learned this challenge was extremely beneficial to my work. Even abbreviated, this challenge

● dramatically increased my production. As I said, now I have 8 new short stories I wouldn’t have had without the challenge. Also, I’ve averaged just under 4,000 words of new fiction per day.

● increased my proficiency. Because I was posting the stories “live” scene by scene, I felt a sense of urgency to write them cleanly and get them out there.

● actually decreased the harmful influence of my critical mind. Again, because I was posting the scenes “live,” I cycled back through them one time to add any obvious omissions. Then I spell-checked them, and then I published them. The sense of urgency kept me from getting mired in the process. (No rewriting, remember?)

● enabled me to learn and practice new techniques more quickly and more cleanly, again because of the sense of urgency that was attached to it.

● handed me 2 new novel starts. That’s right. Out of only 8 new stories, 2 of them will be developed and expanded into novels.

I’ll use the rest of this month to gather story ideas (story starters), finish my novel and maybe write a second one, and create covers for the stories I wrote this month. Then I’ll distribute them.

And I’ll have 8 new streams of income from my writing. Plus two more from novels soon. All from having a good time.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

2 thoughts on “The Importance to a Writer of the Personal Challenge”

  1. This is solo cool. I shall ask some young writers wannnabes to try. If I ever join face book I shall try it. So now that you started writing in public do people expect you to write more ?

    • Hi Munir, This was a challenge to stir my own creative juices. It did, so I will do it again. As for how it affected others, only they can speak to that. If you try it, don’t do it on Facebook. Do it on your own blog.

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