Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, December 30, 2016

Writing a short story for every week of the year: I did it!

At around the beginning of the new year, I got the idea to challenge myself to something. For some time, I often came across this quote by Ray Bradbury: “Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

Well, I decided to give that challenge a try! At the beginning of the year, I remembered that quote and thought, Challenge accepted! I soon put together my plan on how to make that happen.

And I am happy to report that I DID make it happen. I did it! I wrote a short story for every week of the year! Yay!

And I now have 52 short stories. Nice!

This was not something easy to accomplish, though. It was damn hard to meet this challenge. But I was able to do it and I am just so happy.

But I think it’s going to be a LONG time before I do a weekly challenge for the year again!

Seriously, I ran into so many problems as I tried to meet this challenge. It wasn’t writer’s block that held me up every once in a while, because I always got ideas for stories! It was EVERYTHING ELSE that was an obstacle!

Like that one time I was sick for an entire MONTH. I was constantly coughing my head off and enduring severe pain in my ribs and chest from the horrible coughing bouts. But I still wrote a short story for every week of that month, anyway!

Then there was the time I had an eye injury and, because of it, I could only open one eye. That was the week I was typing a story with only one eye open!

I also ran into a few creative differences. I so did not expect this to happen: My son, who recently turned 9, often joined in on the writing of the stories. I often shared snippets of things he wrote on Facebook via a snapshot of his writing. (Jesse was not the only one who decided he wanted to write something, either. My daughter’s Bearded Dragon, Spike, once invaded the keyboard and, by the way he moved across it, ended up typing a whole bunch of gibberish! But see, it was all in Lizard. He alone understood every single word.) Well, I didn’t mind Jesse adding things to my stories, but there were a couple of times we disagreed over a character name or what should happen next. I even told him he should write his own story with all that stuff if he really wanted a story like that. But in the end, I left his stuff in the stories and just moved on to writing my stuff. I am glad those experiences did not create huge problems between us.

And let us not forget the most recent frustration I had to endure: Problems with the keyboard. Yes, I could have written a story in my notebook instead of on the computer, but it was a long time before the keyboard would be fixed and I didn’t want to end up on a time crunch typing up many stories. All of my stories were kept in one file – which is now 265 pages long! And I wanted them all together. Plus, it made it easier for me to do the word count for the stories. (As it is, the keyboard was finally fixed today – when I was halfway through this final week’s story.)

There was also the problem of time. Sometimes I got so busy, a day or two would pass where I wasn’t able to write in a story. There were MANY times I was so busy and running around with the story playing in my head and being unable to type it all. But I still managed to get it all done at some point – even if I had to get up early or stay up late to write it.

In the end, I got all of the stories written up for every full week of this year. I started on a Monday (and sometimes on a Tuesday) and finished on a Friday (and sometimes earlier – but I never called it “done” until Friday because sometimes I’d go back to a story and add or change things). There was one story I couldn’t come up with a title for, and some of them might get new endings too. Some of the stories are not all that great and some of them could probably use a rewrite, but they are “done” as far as my muse is concerned.

Here is a list of all the stories – including the word counts and genres. All word counts are from when I finished writing the story. Some of them were later edited and revised and that changed the word counts. Only one story has been sold – I still have some others I submitted and others awaiting submission to a market if I ever find the right home for them.

1    Almost Human    4,606 words        Sci-fi

2    End Times             2,928 words        Sci-fi

3    Settling An Old Score    1,876 words    Ghost

4    Reboot        1,577 words        Sci-fi

5    Dangerous Art    3,715 words        Monster

6    The Ghost of Baron Hill    2,535 words    Ghost

7    The Writing on the Walls   4,066 words   Ghost

8    Play With Me    2,195 words        Horror

9    Secret Shame    2,511 words        Bad Girl

10    Sweet 16  4,536 words   Bad Girl

11    When You Believe in Magic 2,617 words Fantasy

12    Blood Money    5,749 words        Bizarre

13    The Revenge Business    4,336 words    Bizarre

14    Monday Coffee 600 words  Humor/Satire

15    Astraya  1,962 words  Fantasy

16    A Christmas Blessing    2,767 words Holiday/Drama

17    Cause of Death    2,457 words    Ghost

18    Intruder Alert!    852 words      Humor/Satire

19    Eulogy        1,517 words        Drama

20    The Friday the 13th Dance     1,138 words Bad Girl

21    A Slow Burning    718 words            Ghost

22    Blood Scent   1,561 words   Vampire/Paranormal

23    Birthday Gifts    500 words            Dark

24    A Girl's Best Friend  1,133 words  Monster

25    Losing Sunny    5,811 words        Drama

26    Untitled            2,460 words        Sci-fi

27    Love Slave    1,285 words            Erotic/Horror

28    Waiting for My Pirate    2,698 words    Erotic/Romance

29    Monsters     1,252 words        Monster

30    Lost Time         1,462 words        Fantasy

31    Book Review           939 words        Ghost

32    Salvaged Video  959 words    Horror

33    Back to Life  583 words  Paranormal

34    Something Fishy     633 words    Sci-fi

35    Old Friend            1,148 words   Ghost

36    A Guilty Conscience  1,136 words      Horror

37    Angels Unaware           752 words        Fantasy

38    The Fatal Blow           2,411 words        Ghost

39    A Thousand Words  1,000 words Paranormal

40    The Paradise Pill   2,017 words    Horror

41    Rainy   1,543 words   Ghost

42    After Ted    2,744 words  Fantasy/fanfiction

43    The Brave New World  1,084 words Political satire

44    Mad Maddie  3,480 words    Bad Girl

45    Dead Weight   2,624 words    Bad Girl

46    Wanna Bet?       1,512 words    Humor/Satire

47    Becoming Charlie    1,537 words    Ghost

48    pickyourpleasure.com    3,442 words    ??????

49    Conduit        875 words        Ghost

50    The Visit      939 words            Ghost

51    Departure Time   476 words            Ghost

52    A Visit From Krampus  1,046 words        Holiday/Spooky

Some of the stories will be put into a short story collection but all the rest will be sent out somewhere after I fix them up. There are a few of them, though, that I think could be turned into a novel. Time will tell if that happens.

As I was writing these stories, one of my sisters, who was told about this challenge, often texted me to ask about what story I was writing now. She liked the sound of one of them and asked me to send it to her to read. She later texted back that she loved the story and so did her daughter. (Alas, the editor I submitted it to wasn’t so crazy about it.) Some of these stories were inspired by my dreams (like “Astraya”), some of them were inspired by movies, some by things that I witnessed or me just asking myself, “What if?”

This was a very challenging and very difficult year-long project for me to get through. But I am happy that I got through it. I am just so thrilled and pleased with myself that I took on this challenge and pulled it off. I am glad I never gave up on it. It was important to me to be able to do this and I am glad that I hung in there for it to keep going until the end.

For other blog posts related to this challenge, go here:

Writing Challenge 2016

How I write a short story every week

A little story help for this week's short story

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