I did it! Last year I set myself a challenge to write in the Liberty Hall Flash Challenge every week for a year. We get 90 minutes to write a story, sometime during the weekend (story submission is timed from the moment you request the story prompt). Then during the week, people critique (gently – after all, we only had 90 minutes!).
Today I submitted my 52nd flash. YAHOOO!
What have I learned or accomplished?
First – I had no idea how to create “story.” Rambling ideas, great starts, things that petered out – sure. But a complete, whole story with a beginning and end? Um. How? I still feel that’s my weakest point, but I’m no longer afraid to try. And, I understand where I want to go when I start (not how to get there, but at least what I need to do by the end). My stories end now (not always with a bang, but even a whimper qualifies compared to my previous dribbles!)
Second – the idea of writing a story in 90 minutes? Ack! And let other people look at it? Double ack! I have definitely achieved confidence and a much thicker skin. It helps that everyone is kind, as we’re excruciatingly aware that we only had an hour and a half to spit something out! But I click on the start button with total confidence now – I can get something out. It may not be great, may not even be good. But it will be something I can work on, and more and more frequently, it has been something I like.
Third – I’ve gotten quite good at writing under pressure. I have ideas floating around in my head, but when I sit with plenty of time ahead of me and try to write, I can get trapped in chewing on those ideas and thinking of sixty million other things besides the story – I can get quite bored with it. Yet with the 90 minute deadline, I can get inspired by the prompt, or grab it and combine it with things I’ve been thinking about, twist it a few times and then tap out 1400 words no sweat! Or 600, if that fits the story.
I would never, in a million years, have predicted this last year when I started. Wow. Thank you Liberty Hall, thank you Mike Munsil and all the volunteers who work hard to make the challenges happen.
My next challenge? Enter every short story challenge (we get two weeks to write those) for the next year. That’s harder for me. Those pesky distractions. Perhaps I should wait til the last 90 minutes of the time frame!