One of my biggest takeaways from my current writing class is that patience is a virtue. If your mojo is on the rise, you can fly like the wind during the actual story-writing process. But then comes the patience part.
I’m learning to “incubate” stories. Instead of editing and revising right away, I let my work sit for a few days. I can think about my story, but cannot look at it during that time period. Then I go back and look at it through fresh eyes. Sometimes, I do this two or three times.
I’m learning to send a story to a friendly but honest critic or two and give them time to read, mull it over and give me feedback before I try to ship the tale off into the world.
I’m learning to attack my stories with a machete. I’m mastering the art of recognizing whether words are contributing to a tale or just there to over-describe something I failed to tell well enough. This can take more time for me than incubating and getting critiques.
Next weekend, I’m throwing that all away, or at least condensing it into a 24-hour-window, to participate in this: Writer’s Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest.
I must be a wacknut. Or maybe not.
I always think carefully before entering writing contests. My criteria for whether or not a contest is entry-worthy is this:
– Unless I have an existing unpublished piece that fits the contest theme or feel that I will “win” in terms of a good writing experience even if I don’t place in the contest itself, I leave it alone.
– Given the long shots for winning in these things, if I do write “for” a contest I need to feel it is an opportunity to create something I can try to publish elsewhere. I consider it lighting a fire under my writer’s butt.
For this particular contest, I couldn’t say for sure that this will be the case. Since the whole point is that you have 24 hours to deliver your finished product, I won’t know what I’m writing until hour 1 of that period. It is hard to evaluate what an experience will teach teach you when you have no clue what it will be.
But in this case, I felt like it was worth a shot anyway. First of all, it just sounded like fun.
More importantly, I’ve been flexing my “patience” muscles so much that my “speed” muscles are a little rusty. This is a chance to give them a workout.
I’ve never speed-written fiction. I’ve turned work around on deadlines all my life, first as a procrastinating college student and newspaper editor and later as an occasional freelancer. But I was always feeding the deadline monster essays, articles or web content – never fiction.
I’m excited to see what I’ll do with a story when I don’t have a lot of time to mull it over, plot it, re-plot it, obsess over it, write it, trash half of it, and write it again.
Have you ever done anything like this in your writing ventures? If so, what was it like? If not, would you?