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I've never really considered myself an author. Writing is just something to do to entertain myself when I’m bored. And sure, I seek validation for my hard work by posting short stories on Wattpad, Tumblr, and even here on Vocal, but this is still just a hobby for me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make a career out of it.
Still, writing takes practice. Recently I began looking back over some of my works, mostly shabby fan fictions and overly angsty teen poetry, and realized there was something that they all had in common. I suck at writing endings. I’ll begin stories with clear arcs, planning out where I want to go and what I want to do, but as soon as I hit the halfway point the story falls flat and I lose interest in it. I just can’t finish to save my life.
My best guess is that I really lack writing endurance. I can sprint to the halfway point but stop there, losing wind of what I want to do and where I want to go. Because of this, I’ve decided to challenge myself.
Five-hundred words every single day. No more, no less. My prompt is a single word. It doesn’t matter what I do with it as long as I write some sort of story. My goal is quantity rather than quality, just writing with reckless abandon. Already I’ve begun noticing patterns.
I notice that five hundred words is not as many as a person might think, leaving it for single scenes with deep description rather than full plotted stories with dialogue and layered plots. I find myself relying more on symbolism and surrealism rather than set facts, leaving the stories open for more interpretation.
Why five hundred though? The number may seem random, but it was actually carefully chosen. This is not the first time I’ve challenged myself like this. The first time was with two thousand words, because an English teacher told me that was what she used. The second was with a thousand. Both of these left me struggling for time and writing pure nonsense just to give up half way through the first day. With five hundred, I have enough time to think of a scene and write it. Usually in under an hour. Two if I get too into the story. It works and I can publish my work on several social media platforms for peer review to help me grow into the next day.
This challenge will only last me thirty days. Thirty days of writing five hundred word short stories. Next I might make them longer one word at a time, or perhaps I’ll just jump to six-hundred words per day for thirty days. I’m still not sure. But I know that through this challenge, my writing will improve. I’ll find things that work, and things that won’t. I’ll see where I struggle, and where I breeze through. I’ll do other projects on the side, but I’ll stick with my challenge so that I can always say that I did something rather than nothing.
Hopefully I’ll gain some attention and get some reviews, I’m not social media popular by any standard, but anything helps. The more I post, the more likely I am to be noticed after all, the more likely it is that my biggest fan will find me.
As I said in the beginning, writing isn’t my career. It’s just a hobby for me, a skill that I would like to improve and cultivate just to see what I can do with it. I write because it keeps me from doing something stupid and keeps me motivated to try something new. Writing five hundred words a day will give me the practice and skills to maybe do something with it. Who knows, maybe this hobby could turn into quite the career.