2020 marks the StoryADay Challenge’s 10th birthday and Therese was kind enough to offer me some bytes here, so I could invite you to the party.
What StoryADay May Is
StoryADay May is a month of extreme short story writing. It’s also a challenge, with optional writing prompts, and an online community with a sensibility you’ll recognize – friendly, supportive, feel-good.
In its purest form, during StoryADay May you pledge to write (and complete) a short story every day in May.
We write first drafts, with no editing or critique allowed during May.
It’s just you and a commitment to creativity. This concentrated focus allows you to block out the voices that tell you not to write, because you’re ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’.
StoryADay is my modest attempt to save the world, by saving writers.
What StoryaDay May is Not
It is not an attempt to write 31 good stories.
In fact, it’s an attempt to lower your standards enough to get you writing prolifically so that you can find out:
- What you love to write
- What you hate to write
- When you write best
- How to persevere on good days and bad
- When you are most creative
- Where you write best,
- What tools work for you on different types of days
And so much more.
StoryADay is also not strict.
You make up your own rules and use our community to keep you accountable to them.
You can use my prompts when you need them or completely ignore them. You can pledge to write every day, or three days a week or every day except Thursday, because you never could get the hang of Thursdays. It’s up to you.
In the past people have used StoryADay to write
- Collections of linked short stories
- Random short stories
- Backstory for novel characters and settings
- Chapters of novels
- 31 100 word stories
- 31 ideas for picture books
You also get to make your own rules about how often you write. Just make sure you’re pushing yourself a little.
Why Short Stories?
I know a lot of people here at WU are novelists. Heck, after my first year of writing a StoryADay I became a novelist too, because I realized that writing the same story for months wouldn’t be any harder than writing a new story every day for one month!
But short stories are great as
- Palate cleansers when you are between novels or when you are in the thick of your novel
- Promotional pieces – either for your current novel or for yourself as a writer. Editors and readers are much more likely to take a chance on you for 1,000 words, than for 100,000
- Test-labs for ideas – have a weird little idea you’re not sure you could support a whole novel with? Have a quirky character you’re not sure what to do with? Have a grudge you just want to get out in a story? Short stories are excellent for these little explosions of emotion or for testing out ideas, either for yourself or with readers
- Cool, clever puzzles – sometimes it’s fun just to write something experimental, where you don’t have to spoon-feed the reader all the details.
My favourite StoryADay story from a novelist comes from Sarah Cain (The Eighth Circle, One By One) who was struggling to keep her enthusiasm going for writing, during her search for an agent. She took part in the first ever StoryADay, reminded herself of what FUN writing can be, and got back on the submissions horse.
By the following year she had an agent and a 2-book deal and hasn’t looked back since!
Other people have used StoryADay to
- Write their first stories since high school
- Write the first story they ever submit to a publication
- Write the first story they ever have accepted
- Get their 50th acceptance
- Find their first ever writing friends
- Spark their next novel
Imagine what you could do if you wrote a story a day for a month this May.
Why You Want To Participate This Year–of All Years
It’s the 10th Anniversary and I’ve lined up writing prompts from all kinds of cool and generous authors including Joanne Harris, Hallie Ephron, Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Simon Rich, Julia Elliot, Mary Robinette Kowal, Premee Mohamed, Naomi Kritzer, Grant Faulkner among others, including a talented up-and-comer called Therese Walsh.
This is your chance to see how their minds work!
Also, this year is…weird. You might be suffering from anxiety, a sense of dislocation, difficulty concentrating on longer works, a lingering worry that writing is somehow trivial.
StoryADay is a chance to plunge back into writing, no strings, no great stakes. Just an explosion of creativity for one concentrated month, in the company of other extremely creative people. It’s a chance to be silly in your daily writing goals, while being serious about your overall writing journey. It’s a chance to reboot your writing practice and figure out how to make it work for you, now.
I’d be honored to have you as part of the challenge and part of our community. I’d love to help lead you through a four-ish week program of reconnecting with and strengthening your inner writer so that you can get back to creating fictional worlds that heal the hearts of the people who will heal this beautiful world we share.
If you’d like to join us for StoryADay May 2020, you can sign up here.