Gimme a Jawbreaker – Writing 52 Short Stories In 52 Weeks

What does one do when life, after a chaotic interlude, begins its return to normalcy?

Bite off more than one can chew, of course!

In the fashion of a teenager vowing to never drink again after his first hangover, a big part of me wonders if I’m going to regret this decision in a week:

In addition to posting every day on the blog, starting July 31st, I’m going to finish a short story a week for the next 52 weeks. Once completed, I will post each story here.

Yup. Absurd.

But it will be done, because as Ray Bradbury says:

“It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

I’m betting I’ll really test the truth of that statement. It’s all in the name of practice, though.

At the moment, I’m writing fiction every day, but I feel like I’m not making any forward progress. The wordcount is there, but in the past couple of months, I’ve lost steam over three different stories. I’m never sure if I’m writing a novel, a novella, or a short story. And I get stuck and find that, hey, there’s no deadline, so I’m in no hurry to work myself out of a bind.

A finished story a week gives me a deadline and no room to waffle.

The critical voice in the back of my head tells me that this will be one more year that puts me behind the eight-ball. It will be the middle of 2018 and I still won’t have a novel to publish.

But you know what? Just like most first graders, I’m not ready for calculus. I keep telling myself that the race to be an author of a published novel is a marathon, but I keep looking for those shortcuts.

So go ahead, bring on the jawbreaker. By the end of this experiment, I’m sure to need a maxillofacial surgeon, but I’ll have 52 finished stories under my belt and if I haven’t learned anything, well, at least I’ll know that I’m better off twiddling with bits and bytes than stories and imagery.

-Phillip

* Image courtesy of Eric Kilby on Flickr.

12 thoughts on “Gimme a Jawbreaker – Writing 52 Short Stories In 52 Weeks

  1. Good luck! It will certainly get you closer to those 10,000 hours of practice they say are necessary to hone our trade. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Carrie! That’s definitely the idea. I’ve already gotten more comfortable with blogging after doing it every day, so I’m hoping the same idea takes off with my fiction.

  2. You. Are. A. Nutter. But I love that you face into that nuttiness. Head first. Eyes open. Mouth-a-grinning.

    I’ve been feeling similar recently. I gained momentum, words were flying, even a bit of character was poking through, but eventually, as always, it all spluttered away. No plot. No story. Just a series of events that weren’t going anywhere. Nothing anyone would stick at reading. Even me.

    So I’m going back to a few basics at the moment too. Strengthening the story muscles, ready for some heavy lifting later on. So I can empathise and relate.

    Still think you’re nuts though [insert winking emoji here].

    1. 😀 <-- Definitely mouth-a-grinning. Glad to hear you're heading back to the basics as well. I think we all need to work on our own handicaps, and mine, at the moment, is getting down solid story structure and making it to a proper ending. However things work out, I intend to have fun with things the majority of the time!

      1. Feel like I’m devouring craft books at a rate that will leave me bloated at the moment, but the simple approach outlined (pun intended) in Jim Heskett’s Juggling Author is helping give me some structure – and importantly for me, I’ve decided to be disciplined about getting a start-to-finish outline down first (can always tweak it later). Should have said: I’m very much looking forward to reading what you come up with. Please don’t make them too good, I may have to try it.

        1. Colin, you’re like my personal book recommendation machine. Thanks for giving me another to add to my TBR pile. 🙂 And don’t fear my stories being too good. I imagine most of them will require lots of nose pinching. But, I do hope it inspires you to keep at it!

  3. If this works for you go for it.

    1. Thanks , John. I’ve been happy with the results of my daily blogging deadline. Don’t see any reason not to carry this philosophy over to the craft of fiction.

  4. […] It was a potent reminder of a more personal battle of mine — focusing my energies on one thing at a time. I get bored easily. I know it’s a habit that hurts me and it’s a large part of the reason I have trouble finishing my work; hence my need for artificial constraints (like completing a short story every week for a year). […]

  5. […] spent an hour this morning planning and brainstorming my first short story in the 52-week challenge. I hope this gets easier. Some parts will, I’m sure, but there are always new challenges to […]

  6. You are a better man than I, Gunga Din!
    I thought about doing this exact thing quite some time back, but decided it just looked too hard – too much of a commitment – too (fill in generic excuses ad nauseam). So I didn’t. My hat is off to you for even trying, but just because my hat is off does not give you an excuse to quit or take my hat. So don’t.
    Now, I’ve got a whole bunch of other goals and deadlines I’ve tied myself to, so I won’t be joining you in your adventure anytime soon. However, I look forward to seeing the results.
    I’d wish you good luck, but I don’t think that’s what you need, so I’ll wish you bon voyage!
    Who knows, maybe your results will encourage me to take the plunge.

    1. KC, thank you kindly for stopping by and words of encouragement! I have a habit of jumping into absurd situations. They don’t always work out, but I’m hoping this one sticks. So far, so good, but I’ve barely scratched the surface. And don’t worry, I’ll leave your hat just where it is. I promise it will be in the same spot once I type in the last period of story #52. Then all bets are off!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.