It is the first day of May. For me that means I write a story for each day of this month.
It is a challenge I have been doing since 2016.
I always charge myself with an added layer of personal intention for this challenge. One year it was to just get the stories done completely [no skeleton stories]. Another year it was to freewrite first and then compose the story. Sometimes I pick a theme to use for the month. It often depends on what I need to work on or what I am currently obsessed with.
I am a reflective writer who likes to grow and I always learn something about process in May. This year I am going to be more intentional about the reflection in a public way.
Since I started taking my own writing more seriously and sharing that with others I get questions all the time about my process and how I write what I do.
This year’s inspiration is a combination of Felicia Rose Chavez’s book and process, classes I have taken over the last year with Nina LaCour, Jane Brunette, and Sarah Selecky and my own need to light myself up with writing.
- Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
- Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
- Would I use this prompt again?
- Reflect if the writing surprised me.
- Did I learn anything?
My overall goal is to produce better first drafts. I plan to incorporate a theme of EVERYDAY MAGIC in my stories and to pay attention to my intuition while writing.
I am hoping that blogging about it will require me to be more accountable to myself and also share my process which is asked of me often. I also hope that blogging will require me to curate and synthesize with a bit more polish instead of just ramblings within in my notebook. If there are specific questions that arise for you if you follow along with me on the journey, please ask! I hope my stories and reflection will help you with your writing in some way. Even if that is only that someone else is writing at the same time you are!
How did I prepare for this challenge?
I have a series of month long challenges I do each year. May is slated for Storyaday always and I start thinking about it one on and off for a couple of weeks before the first of the month.
One of my regular practices is to keep notes of inspiration. I call them my lists of 10. [Most of the time there are more than 10 things on the list.] I write down snippets of conversation, lines that come to me, story ideas, observations, etc. These ideas are logged in the Keep app on my phone and I move them to a Google Doc usually. Sometimes I write using the ideas from the day before and then delete them before they get put into the Compost Pile folder.
When composing, sparks of inspiration are not an issue I have. I have files of ideas and I use my intuition to guide me. An idea MUST light me up in order to use it. I often have a lot of writing ideas during my walks but often the ideas that light me up while I am walking does not work when I sit down with my notebook. I have learned to honor that feeling.
I learned the first year I did the challenge that finishing the story is a critical part. It doesn’t have to be good, but it does have to have an ending. Learning how to circle a story back is an important skill for a writer. With practice I have gotten better at this aspect of the process. Reading great flash fiction also helps. I recommend Sherrie Flick for her powerhouse stories that end beautifully each time.
I have an established daily writing practice that works for me. I go to bed with the idea that I will write as soon as I wake up. This helps the words flow most days. Sometimes not. I write anyway.
Every morning I use Sarah Selecky’s daily prompt in addition to morning pages type writing and dream work. In May, I will read the Selecky prompt and the Storyaday prompt and see if I can mash them together. This is typical for me. It leads to interesting stories most of the time that go in a direction I couldn’t do otherwise.
The prompt is about a Bridge. You can read the whole prompt here.
I connected with this prompt in a strong way today. I am fascinated by bridges and they have come up in the notebooks in various ways over the past several weeks. I liked the idea but was having trouble thinking about exactly what I wanted the story to be.
I had my coffee and brainstormed in my notebook for about 45 minutes. I recorded snippets of dreams and other thoughts this morning. The Sarah prompt was about a coffee cup rim which didn’t work. The Sprinkled Inspiration prompt was about socks which reminds me of the Naomi Shihab Nye poem, “Secrets” that I love. There are suitcases and socks in that poem which made me think of travel.
I thought about all types of bridges in life, not just a curved cobblestone bridge that looks like it belongs in a fairytale which is what emerged in the story. A plane can be a bridge from one time zone to another. I write bridges between words to create new metaphors all the time.
The story came together fairly quickly and I decided to type it. I feel like this one is a draft and a start but will think on it more. I feel it is a skeleton story at the moment, but if something comes to me I will come back to it. I am going on a walk here soon so if something comes to me I will make notes. I do not consider the story something that must be done in one sitting although that is usually how I work.
I used the images I recorded from my walk the other day to begin the story. I like the idea of an image of a tarot card to be the last image and can see the drawing in my head. This could be a reoccurring theme for the month as an ending image for each story and could tie the stories all together and also create a way to make a collection by the end of the month. Cards can fit in your pocket and that image intrigues me as well.
Anchors for this story: thunder clouds, cobblestone bridge, lightning, questions
Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!