Learnings – Writing Challenges

It’s been two months since I started this crazy writing challenge and there’s been a lot of stuff learned. I wanted to set aside just a minute to think out loud, not just for myself, but also for the lot of you that have been tuning in every week.

So, here goes my impromptu session of ‘what I’ve learned during my last two months’ session.

– First and foremost, I’ve been learning to cut things a little closer to their cores. I like to let things reel out and take as long as they take. Unfortunately, in a world of dwindling attention spans, that doesn’t always work.

Skip a bit, brother.

So Brevity is a thing I’ve been working on. In my editing passes, I look for two things primarily. the first is ‘Did I say this already?’ I like to repeat myself, I think for emphasis… but it doesn’t do any emphasizing.  Second, I ask ‘Do I need this?’ If a thing doesn’t serve a function in telling the story, I axe it. I feel these two things have tightened the work. I can even see it coming up as I write, not as I edit. Behaviors are being learned, and that’s good.

– Randomness promotes new ideas. The script has been doing well by me. Putting together things I didn’t think would fit made for things I wouldn’t have otherwise explored. Moneyworkers, for instance, put wizards, the temptation of power, the corporate world, and occult societies in one place in a contemporary setting. Then I had The Ferryman in which I did a horror pursuit story in a starship featuring biotechnology and dogs. I don’t think I would have come up with these on my own. I can write about each component individually – but it’s made me explore familiar components in unexpected ways, which has resulted in sudden intuitive bursts and creative explosions.

– Being on a schedule helps the process. I have a deadline to which I hold myself accountable. Every Wednesday morning, it’s time to post, whether I feel the story is shit or not. I only missed one challenge day so far, and given circumstances, I think it warranted the delay. Plus, the following week I had a double header in which I caught up. It was both gratifying and terrifying to take on 4,000 words in a week, and I finally digested a bit of a story I’d been working on for a very long time. Even if the whole deadline is artificial, it metaphorically makes the occasional diamond out of common coal.

– I also know now that maybe keeping my personal and business lives separate in social media hampers me a little. When I started this thing, I had about forty some odd likes on my Facebook Author Page by sending out invites over the course of two years. I picked up about fifteen more in a month when I took the page to my actual Facebook timeline. And then I saw the organic outreach quadruple in my post reaches. People actually subscribe and read a lot more (or let’s be honest, people click more) when I open myself up to more than just people who like the page.

– If Facebook’s analytics are to be trusted, there may be enough people taking an interest that I can seriously research self-publication of my short stories. If I could turn even a couple of short story clicks from the blog into a paid, ninety-nine cent borrows from programs like Kindle Unlimited, I might actually be able to make beer money of the project.

– If I look at everything I’ve written since I started this, we’re looking at 22,000 words in a little over two months. This is huge progress since my writing slowed down a few years back. If I could keep this type of schedule up for editing and writing, I could finally expand into the spaces I’ve always wanted to. I’ve always wanted to write novel length work, and these little exercises could snowball into the ability to do better work in a longer form.

– It’s made me get back into graphic work again as well. Every week I place an image. It’s usually not mine – the stuff up now is stuff I find in image searches, most times with some touchups or composition work done in Photoshop – one of my first creative loves. But, it’s making me want to look into providing my own illustrations/photos or to collaborate with other creatives in my circles. I want to take all of that stuff from online down and make something I can actually post that I made between my own illustrations and my photo edit skills. Plus, it’d make for good cover art for online publication or eventual print publication.

– People care. I get a lot of feedback from a lot of places. I have a critique from one person in particular just about every week, and several others to boot with more intermittent frequency. A lot of the feedback is very useful, and that feedback often times informs the work as I progress through my challenge.

– It’s rewarding personally. For a while there, I wasn’t writing. I was just numbing myself with Netflix and video games. Wrtiting makes me feel like I’m doing something positive, something constructive. It puts me in a better mood and makes me strive for bigger things creatively.

I’m sure I’ll learn more along the way, but this is what I have for now.

In the meantime, keep reading and I’ll keep writing.

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