for writers and readers….
The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week—it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done. At the end of 30 weeks or 40 weeks or at the end of the year, all of a sudden a story will come that’s just wonderful.
Ray Bradbury at The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, 2001
Photo credit: Fathromi Ramdlon
I love this approach
Me too, Beth…but I’ve never achieved it (or come close). Have you?
I haven’t either
Yes, it’s enough of a struggle to produce a novel a month, short stories are much harder.
there is a story of a famous writer who visited a school and told them that the keys to successful short story writing were brevity, unconventional language, the arisocracy, a question, and scandal. One girl took his words to heart, and wrote, as her whole essay:
“Oh gawd!” said the Duchess. “I’m pregnant. I wonder who done it?”
It’s an old one but a good one…I’m tempted to try doing my own version.
“So, you think I am the ghost writer, c’est ça?” Prince Harry’s butler sighed. “Not so, but there is a real ghost in this condominium.” He lowered his voice, “haunting the swimming pool.”
Over to you Sarah & anyone who wants to join in…
“In the *Swimming pool*, Jeeves? how… extraordinary!”
“Yes, your highness. Turns out the poor fellow was gassed in the first world war, and turned up in the chlorination process.”
“But of course, sir, the business in hand is finding out who wrote your supposed memoires, and as I know it was not I, and one can scarcely believe that the ghost did it, there’s only one person who can be assumed to have done this dastardly exposé.”
Prince Harry gasped.
“Even so, your higness.” Jeeves inclined his head, and extended a hand as the door burst open to reveal the secret ghost writer….
Bradbury is right, though, in principle. Success is in writing something every day, however short, even if it’s only 500 words when you’re banjaxed and can’t manage a proper day’s work for being ill, blocked, or whatever. It’s worth cutting out pictures from magazines which give you an emotional response and keeping them in a scrapbook, and then, when hit with block, getting out the scrapbook and writing a short story or poem based on the next pic in the book from the last you used… or leafing through to see which gives you a nudge.
That is an excellent idea and one I have used and shared with students.
Heather King used to post prompts of pics or short paras on a FB page, but she is no longer on FB, alas. I have a folder full of paragraph length starts, half a dozen poems, and three full short stories from her prompts.
“…a novel a month…” It takes you a whole 28 days? And I was wondering how a ghost could haunt a swimming pool but you have come up with a very satisfying explanation.
Best time is 15 days, but that’s only the first draft. When I’m going well I can write 10k a day, but it’s usually only 3-5k.
hehe I had to flow with your whimsy; I’ve left it for someone else to reveal the ghost writer….
I love this! What great advice.