As a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) rebel this year, I completed my very rough draft of Desert Son on November 3, 2018 and then began a much larger challenge. The challenge was to write twenty-five short stories during the months of November and December, 2018. This went well, but not in the way I originally planned.
Was it Binge Writing?
NaNoWriMo may be referred to as binge writing, that is, writing a lot in a concentrated period of time. Lots of writers swear by this technique to tap into their creative flow, while others eschew it as rushing the process. As someone whose brain races all the time, I find NaNoWriMo to be fun. For one thing, I’m writing with hundreds of thousands of others during the same time period. Second, I find it hard enough for my hands to keep up with my brain. Yet I worry if I slow things down, many of those thoughts and processes going on in my head will just evaporate since no one wrote them down. So, I’m kind of hooked at least on this level of binge writing. And I also felt a little guilty for not following the normal NaNoWriMo process.
What’s a Type A Person to Do?
I began the short story challenge with very few story ideas in mind. I was also interested in writing flash stories so I could practice writing complete stories in fewer words and improve my craft. A quick search netted me over a hundred and fifty prompts which I reviewed, then chose the 60 that seemed the most fun to me. The interesting thing about the prompts was that fewer than half were for either science fiction or mystery stories, which are my primary genres. So the challenge really became one of stretching myself to write things I normally wouldn’t write and were out of my comfort zone.
When the smoke cleared, I had completed fifty short stories, with lengths varying from 187 words to 7,303. And beyond that wide variance, I had written three western stories, three romances, six police procedurals, five literary stories, and six I would classify as “creepy,” in addition to others making up the fifty. And while I’m not convinced they’ll all be excellent stories once edited and rewritten, there are a few that really strike me and struck the people who’ve read them as well.
If nothing else, I now have many more stories I can submit to contests and magazines, and for that alone, I’m very grateful. Looks like I may be a NaNoWriMo rebel next year as well.