Friday, July 8, 2011


I got the idea to start using challenges to motivate myself form Dean Wesley Smith (among many other great ideas.) I am sure the idea doesn't originate with him either, but he makes great use of it.

Basically, the idea is that you come up with something that you think you can do, but that is at the limits of your abilities, and set a repetitious goal related to the concept as a challenge. Example - for competitive eating - fifteen hotdogs at a sitting, every day. This is a slightly silly (and possible completely wronhgeaded, by virtue of being to easy or too hard) example, but it shows the concept.

If you repeat a difficult task, it gets easier. Soon hard becomes bearable, becomes cake. And the achievements, small on day one, pile up quickly.

As a writer, my biggest self imposed challenge is writing 1,250 words daily. This is about two or three hours worth of work for me, but sometimes only takes me one hour, especially at the beginnings of stories. I find word count much more concrete and measurable than pages or time spent, and thus more motivating.

The magic here is that a week of 1,250 days is easily a short story, maybe two. Or a few chapters of a novel. A few months make a collection, a short novel, or half a doorstop. And so on. It all adds up.

I have two new challenges I am imposing on myself. One, My daily blog post challenge, you are reading right now. I am on my fourth consecutive day, I believe. Whee!

The other  is my day-off story challenge. I intend to complete, from scratch, one new short story every day I have off (once a week.) I will use existing ideas, or new ones, but nothing I have already been working on.

I am giving myself some wiggle room - editing later is okay, so long as the story is done in one day. I don't expect epic length opuses (opi?) here, flash fiction to a few thousand words is fine. I am also still counting these stories as my daily word goal, so no double pressure.

Can I do it? I don't know. Will I succeed every week? Probably not. But I bet I learn a whole heck of a lot about tight storytelling, and how to get my creative process on a fast track.

I haven't decided what to do with these stories, I may put them up here for free, for a short time at least, or I may shop the ones that I feel or saleable around. Haven't got that far yet. I am wanting to do podcasts, so maybe some of these will be useable for that purpose, after Tes-Nin is done.

All depends on what I write and how the challenge goes, really. Wish me luck.

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