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At the start of this year I set myself a challenge: I would write and publish a short story for every day of 2015, starting January 1st and ending December 31st. Three-hundred-and-sixty-five in all. Why, exactly? Well, at the time I'd just finished writing Hotel - my interactive collection of microfictions. I was getting a feel for the form, and I enjoyed writing in bite-sized segments. More than that though, I was following some advice that I'd heard and read in a dozen different places. The advice was this: write every day. Rain or shine, busy or not - write. It certainly seemed like a good idea, and I was keen to try out anything that might force me to write more regularly.
It's now five months into the year and I have indeed been writing every day. Some days I've finished six stories, and some days I haven't even finished one. Some days I write for three hours and some for fifteen minutes. It varies enormously, but I've managed to keep to my goal of publishing a story each day on a dedicated blog. Much to my surprise, I've not missed an update yet.
Not only that, but in the course of all this frantic writing, I've noticed a few interesting things about me and the ways I create - things that I wouldn't have discovered without writing every day. Here, for your entertainment, are a few of them.
1 - Writing becomes easier the more you do it.
At the start of the year, I found it a lot harder to keep up with the schedule I'd set myself. A story a day seemed like an impossible task. Thirty-one stories per month! Crazy. But I made it through January, and then through February too. March followed. By the time I'd done three months, it didn't seem quite so difficut to do a fourth. The more I wrote, the easier it got to write. In part this was down to knowing that I could write thirty stories in a month, and in part it was down to sheer momentum. Sitting down to write just became part of my day - something that, after a while, I didn't even have to think about.
2 - Words add up quicker than you'd think.
None of the stories I've written so far have been longer than three hundred words. I keep one master document with all the stories in. Its total length as of today? Forty-five thousand words. By the end of the year I'll have written a novel and a half. It doesn't feel as though I've written anything substantial though. When you spend a few minutes working on something every day, those short periods of time add up. Maybe you can only spare quarter of an hour per day to work on your book. That's fine. It'll take a while, but if you stick to it the words will stack up, and it will get written!
3 - You don't need to be inspired to write.
There have been times when I've had to force myself to write: days when I felt tired, when I wasn't interested in sitting down to type, when I had a dozen other things that I needed to do. On these days I forced myself to sit and work for a while, certain that whatever I came out with would be trash. A lot of it was. But then, so was a lot of what I wrote on the days when I felt genuinely energised and inspired. Being tired, bored, busy, or in a bad mood doesn't necessarily mean that you can't write. You might have to push yourself a little harder to get started, but the important thing to remember is that you can!
It's been a manic five months thus far, but with a little luck and a lot of coffee I should make it to my goal of a story per day for the entire year. You can read my efforts at unlikelyislands.blogspot.com - or sign up to receive them by email. Be quick though - there's only another seven months before I'm done!