Huzzah, it’s time to submit!

Greetings, writers! The link to submit your story to the judges is finally open. Submit HERE.

Please note that there’s NO RUSH. The submission deadline is Sunday, May 29, so you still have a several more days to make your story as good as it can be.

(P. S. Don’t forget to keep helping your fellow writer in the Spring Contest workshop!

How to Write a Story a Week: A Day-by-Day Guide

As a fiction writer eager to improve my craft, I’ve long wanted to try out the story-a-week approach recommended to aspiring writers by Ray Bradbury. After all, he said, it’s impossible to write fifty-two bad stories in a row.

How to Write a Story a Week

 

For years, developing my novel took precedent over short stories, as I tried to fit any writing in at all into my schedule around work, family and the rest of life.

But then I started freelancing full-time, and I’m officially out of excuses—if I can’t manage to find time for short stories when I have total control over every aspect of my schedule, I’ll never do it.

So I started cranking them out this month… or at least trying to. Turns out that writing a story a week is even harder than I thought.

But with some experimentation, I think I’ve found a way to get it done. Here is a day-by-day plan to write a story in a week: 

Monday: Settle On Your Story Idea

First, pick an idea to build your story around.

Maybe you’ve got a running list of those idea spark moments from eavesdropping at the coffee shop. Or maybe there’s a concept that’s been sticking in your head that you want to play with. This is your chance. Or, there are plenty of creative writing prompts and exercises out there to choose from.

However you get your idea, take some time on Monday to fully flesh it out to get to know your characters and identify the key points of your plot.

I know you pantsers out there will scoff at the idea of outlining, but I’ve found it to be absolutely critical to writing fast. 

Tuesday: Write Your Opening Act

Following the classic three-part plot structure, on Tuesday, draft out Act One.

This opening act should establish the key characters, as well as the setting. You also need to clearly define the conflict and motives.

These are the key factors that will serve as a foundation for the rest of your story, grab or lose the attention of readers (and editors), and move the plot forward.

No lies, it’s a lot to accomplish. But put in your time here and the rest of your story will come a lot easier.

Wednesday: Write the Climax

Today we’re going to pick up right were we left off by writing act two.

Now that the story’s key elements are established, it’s time to up the tension and stakes. Go ahead, cause your protagonist some true pain, and don’t forget to make your conflict three-dimensional.

When you wrap up your writing time today, you should be at the story’s climax. 

Thursday: Resolve the Plot

Now, all that’s left to write is act three: the resolution.

In this final section of your story, you’ve got to pull its elements together into a resolution. What are the consequences of your protagonist’s choices in the story so far? Let them unfold and come to a conclusion.

Then, rejoice—you’ve got a complete draft! 

Friday: Revise Your Story

You’ve got a complete story now, but that’s only the beginning. Today, go back and revise your draft.

This is your chance to take a close look at what you’ve created and make it the best it can be. Fill out those details. Nitpick over word choices. Finesse those transitions.

And most importantly, this is where you assess how much more investment this story is worth. Is it good? Is it publishable?

For stories you deem worthy, you may want to continue revisions into Saturday and Sunday to make sure it’s the best it can be. Then, submit it for publication or share it as a freebie on your author website.

Writing a Short Story a Week Will Make You a Better Writer

Sure, writing a short story a week may sound like a lot of work, and it is. But it will also pay off exponentially.

For writing, as with most creative work, quantity breeds quality. This means that the more your write, regardless of how good any specific story is, the more you will improve.

So don’t worry about making every single story a jewel of perfection. That’s not the point. The point is to constantly cycle your brain through the stages of storybuilding, from concept to final product. Every time you do it, you’re making yourself a little bit better.

How about you? Do you think you can complete a story in a week? Share your thoughts in the comments.

PRACTICE

Get started writing a short story a week right now! There’s no time like the present. Get a premise for your story and start your outline. Then, share your premise in the comments. Be sure to lend support to your fellow writers by replying to each other.

About Emily Wenstrom

By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.

  • I gotta recommend this highly. Good one, Emily! Folks — she’s a professional writer so she knows all about deadlines and how they help to hone one’s talent. So I see here a discipline to set a weekly deadline and by sticking to it, the results will be magical. The pressure to perform may not work for everyone, but if you’re even remotely attracted to this kind of challenge, then go for it. From my experience, I don’t know any single thing more sure to develop talent than this kind of practice. This is the kind of thing that always excited me as a young writer. Heck, I might even get out of my rocking chair and do this myself.

    • Thanks so much PJ 🙂 You’re right, deadlines hold a kind of disciplinary magic.

  • Great, Emily. I’d like to add I think your same premise could apply to a novel, writing one new chapter each week. You could have a completed book by the end of the year!

    • Absolutely – just 1000 words a day is 365,000 a year! Go for it, Marcy!

    • LilianGardner

      I’d like to do the same from a story I started last month. I must be sure not to overstep the 1000 word count, and make the break at the right place.

      • Go for it, Lilian. You won’t know unless you try!

        • LilianGardner

          I will do, thanks Marcy. I’m revising the first 1000 words to post ASAP.

        • LilianGardner

          Marcy, I realise that I must write a prologue to show readers the reason why the couple immigrated, and a summary of their early lives. I’ll make some notes in longhand to get the events in the right order. It’ll take time and I’ll probably post it next week.

  • ConradThomas

    The premise of my short story is about how drastically life can change based on one particular circumstance. In this case, it’s how a sick wife’s cough changed the trajectory of her husband’s life and career. Here’s Act One if you have time to read it:

    The Cough

    Conrad had just dozed off when he was awakened by his wife’s loud cough.

    “Are you getting sick?” he asked, feigning concern.

    Sara answered with an even louder and longer coughing fit.

    “Well, I can’t afford to get sick before my business trip,” he said. “I’m gonna go sleep in the spare bedroom.”

    “Gee, thanks for your thoughtfulness,” Sara wheezed, triggering an even greater coughing fit.

    Conrad shut the bedroom door and crawled into the twin bed in the spare room. He had hoped to get a good night’s sleep before his trip, but sleep wasn’t coming easily. He just had too much on his mind. He tossed and turned for a good while before finally giving in and wanking one off. It wasn’t long after, that Conrad finally drifted off to sleep.

    Conrad’s cell phone woke him the next morning.

    “Where the hell are you?” asked the voice on the other end. “Did you forget the meeting this morning?”

    “Shit!” Conrad yelled. He hung up the phone and looked at the time. It was 8:27. There was no time for a shave or a shower. He yelled across the house to Sara that he was late, grabbed his overnight bag sitting by the back door and slammed the door behind him.

    The traffic was running a snail’s pace. Conrad checked his watch again.

    “Shit! Shit! Shit!” He gave the steering wheel a pounding with his fist and then swerved into the carpool lane. “Please God, don’t let there be a cop out this morning.”

    By the time he arrived at the office, the meeting was in full gear. His boss stopped speaking as Conrad slithered to his chair. His buddy, Steven Hayes gave him a look, then quickly darted his eyes away.

    “Glad to see you could make it, Conrad,” his boss said, never taking his eyes off his laptop.

    “Sorry, Mr. Phelps,” Conrad whimpered.

    “Please come see me before you and Hayes leave for New York,” his boss said, still not looking up.

    “Yes sir,” Conrad said. His felt his face turn hot. Sweat beaded on his upper lip. He glanced over at Steven in quiet desperation.

    The meeting seemed to go on for hours. Conrad had a hard time concentrating. His mind was racing, imagining every worst-case scenario possible as to why his boss would want to meet with him before his trip.

    When the meeting finally adjourned, Steven grabbed Conrad by the arm and ushered him to his cubicle.

    “Why were you so late?” Steven asked.

    “Sara kept me up all night with her incessant coughing,” Conrad answered. “But never mind that. Why do you think Phelps wants to see me before the trip?”

    Steven shrugged and then swiped his hand across the front of his neck in a decapitation gesture.

    “Gee thanks,” Conrad said.

    “I’m kidding,” Steven answered. “Who knows, maybe he wants to give you a raise.”

    “Sure, because being an hour late for an important meeting should always be rewarded with a raise, and let’s go ahead and throw in a promotion while we’re at it,” Conrad said with a smirk.

    He felt his stomach cramp in knots and the beads of sweat reappear on his lip as he headed toward the corner office.

    Conrad poked his head in the door, “You wanted to see me, Mr. Phelps?”

    “Oh, yes,” his boss said. “Close the door and sit down. I’ll be with you in a second.”

    Conrad readjusted in his chair hoping to control both his bowels and his bladder during the upcoming conversation. He wiped the sweat from his lip with his shirtsleeve and combed his fingers through his unwashed hair. He prayed quietly that whatever was about to happen would be as quick and painless as possible.

    His boss finally finished rummaging through his file cabinet. He sat down behind his oversized desk and opened up a thick folder.

    “I’ve been watching you, Conrad,” Mr. Phelps said, his eyes still perusing the folder on his desk. “This is your personnel file.”

    Conrad could hear his heart pounding through his chest. He readjusted in his chair again. He searched for the nearest trash can, just in case.

    “Conrad, you’re fired,” Mr. Phelps announced, pointing his finger in Conrad’s ashen face.

    Conrad grabbed his stomach and leaned forward. He could no longer hear his heart pounding. Perhaps he had just died of a massive heart attack.

    “Nah, I’m just kidding,” Phelps said with a laugh. “I have always wanted to do that.” He let out another big guffaw. “Do you watch Celebrity Apprentice, Conrad? I get the biggest kick out of Donald Trump.”

    Conrad sat there stunned as he felt a wave of intense relief collide with his state of utter shock. And that’s when he noticed a little something wet seep out around his nether-regions. He clinched tight and took a deep breath. He looked at Mr. Phelps through his watering eyes, just to make sure he was for real.

    “Seriously, I want to talk to you about your future in this company,” Mr. Phelps went on to explain, totally oblivious that he had nearly given his employee a stress-induced heart attack complete with a raging case of diarrhea. “I’ve been watching you and I think you have great potential, your recent tardiness notwithstanding.”

    “About me being late,” Conrad said, “Let me explain.”

    “Don’t need to hear it,” Mr. Phelps interrupted. “Just don’t let it happen again.”

    Conrad immediately stopped his explanation and sat back in his chair. His boss continued.

    “Conrad, you’re leaving today for New York. You and what’s his name, Hayes, correct?”

    Conrad nodded.

    “So here’s the deal. If you can win over the Kaufman account while you’re in New York, you stand a real good chance at one of the Vice-President openings here in the company along with a nice fat bonus and a twenty-five percent salary increase. How does that sound?” Mr. Phelps asked.

    Conrad clinched and readjusted again in the chair, praying silently, “Please don’t let me crap my pants now.”

    “I don’t know what to say,” Conrad said. “I’m shocked and I’m honored and I promise I’ll get you that account.”

    Conrad stood and shook his bosses hand tightly and vigorously.

    “Very well then,” Mr. Phelps said. “That will be all. I’ll take my hand back now.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Phelps,” Conrad said. “And thanks for not firing me.”

    “Yeah, I really had you going, didn’t I,” Mr. Phelps laughed. “You’re fired,” he repeated, sticking his finger at Conrad again. Conrad faked a quick laugh and hurried out of the office before his boss had a chance to say anything else.

    Conrad walked quickly down the hall; straight passed his cubicle where Steven had been patiently waiting to hear about his meeting and proceeded directly to the men’s room.

    He got to the toilet just in the nick of time. A flood of stress and relief gushed out in waves. He shivered as droplets of sweat ran down his back and tears welled up in his eyes. Then he heard the bathroom door open.

    “Buddy are you okay?” came the familiar voice of his pal, Steven.

    “Yeah, I’m great,” said Conrad. He wiped his eyes and forehead with his handkerchief. “Just a bad case of the runs. I’ll fill you in when I finish.”

    “So, he didn’t fire you?” Steven continued.

    “No, I’ll explain later, dude,” Conrad answered. “Now, please, let me shit in peace.”

    On the flight to New York, Conrad told Steven all about his meeting with Mr. Phelps.

    “Wow, what a great opportunity, Con,” Steven said. “I ‘ll do what I can to help out.” Steven downed his drink and caught the flight attendant passing by and ordered a second. “You want anything, Conrad?”

    “Nah, I better not,” answered Conrad, who was getting up to go to the restroom. “All the excitement this morning must’ve really taken a toll on my digestive system.”

    By the time Conrad returned to his seat, Steven had finished his second drink and dozed off. Conrad pulled out his laptop to write a quick email to Sara to fill her in on the big news. When he pulled up his account on the plane’s wifi, he noticed an email from Mr. Phelps entitled “One Last Thing.”

    When he opened the email, he felt all the blood rushed out of his head making him dizzy and nauseous. He blinked a couple of times and reread the one sentence email. “I forgot to tell you, if you should get your promotion, your first assignment would be to fire Steven Hayes.”

    • I like it … it’s kind of ‘butterfly effect’-y!

    • Very nice. The bowel problems seemed excessive, but shit who cares. Good work.

    • Rachel Evelyn Nichols

      One little technical problem. You used nauseous instead of nauseated. Conrad got nauseated from his boss’s nauseous email. It’s a common error though. I like your story!

  • Gina S

    I love this guide, thank you so much.

  • Kieran Meyer

    I’m going to try writing a story about a writer who’s told to write darker stories yet struggles to find inspiration for the darker tone. It’s based off a prompt from this blog last week. We’ll see how it goes.

  • David Nelson

    I am writing a tale of fate and the strong of individual to accept or defy it. I will try this technique

  • Funny you should mention it. I sat through a presentation on flash fiction, given by an editor for Splickety magazine (well known in Christian fiction circles, though it’s not Christian fiction). Splickety buys stories of 1000 words or less. So I sat down and wrote one for the scifi issue, then another. Now I’m working on one for the romance issue (just because). And I can see doing this during my lunch hour, shooting for one per week. It certainly teaches me a lot about trimming a story to its bare essentials. And I get some novel ideas out of it as well.

    Thanks for the post. Great advice.

    • Wow, you can really crank ’em out! I’m going to have to check out Splickety. Sounds like you’re on a roll, keep it up 🙂

  • LilianGardner

    I enjoyed your fast- moving story, especially the unexpected ending, which gave me a jolt.

  • I write short stories as an outlet to pursue my love for literary writing, but I always set them aside for later, after my novel is finished. I haven’t worked outside the home in years, so I really have no excuse. Thanks for giving me a schedule to follow.

  • Mike Mada

    Wow, this is great to get me off my arse!

  • Gary G Little

    When I first started posting in March, I found I was lucky if I could knock out 250 words. Now I’m easily throwing in descriptive prose that use the senses that easily blast through 1000 words. These later efforts I see fitting into this mold. Not perfectly, but fairly close. Here is my latest, a WIP, because I have not resolved it. And yes, Sarah is the petulant character that would not play well in the sand box last week.

    My hide is thick, I value your comments, so please make it bleed.

    John threw the covers off his nude, portly form, and sat on the edge of the bed. He looked down at the expanse of his belly, and for the thousandth time mumbled something about getting to the gym, again. Maybe he’d call Howard and set up a game of racquet ball.

    “Oh yeah, that’ll be great,” he thought. “Coronary in court 3!!”

    “Hey Tip, how’s your day,” he said to the Jack Russell terrier sprawled at the foot of the bed. Tippy wagged his tail, stretched like all dogs do, jumped down from the bed, sat in the bedroom doorway facing John, and waited.

    The morning sun pooled at John’s bare feet, a light southern California breeze billowing the curtains his mother and sister had insisted he needed, bringing with it the acrid odor of another smoggy day. In the trees outside, sparrows and blue jays were having their normal territorial squabbles. He scratched his hair, noted a thinning spot in the mirror, scratched other areas, and stood up, all 5’9″ of him. Grabbing the blanket and sheet, he pulled them into place, threw the pillows on top and decided “bachelor made” was good enough.

    Glancing in the mirror and seeing his profile he thought, “God damn, I’m as round as I am tall. Look like a bowling ball on two legs. Gotta get to the gym.” Out the bedroom door, Tippy as his shadow, John entered the bathroom just a few steps down a small hallway, and made normal male splashes, mumbles, groans, and shivers as he emptied his bladder. Grabbing the shorts he had discarded in a corner of the bathroom last night, he pulled them on and buckled them around his middle.

    “You ready for breakfast,” he asked? Tippy, immediately responded by bumping into John’s bare calves, doing a quick turn or two, and of course whining.

    “Well, lets get it done.” Off to the kitchen, John picked up Tippy’s food bowl, washed and cleaned it, spooned in some canned food and added a scoop of dry.

    “Hell Tip. You eat better than I do. Ok, I know, just not as much.” He sat the bowl down and Tippy gave his approval by burying his snout in the bowl. John next took care of Tippy’s water.

    That done, he added water to the tank of the coffee brewer, added a filter and three scoops of the new roast he had bought, and hit brew. Two eggs into a bowl, a splash of milk, beat the hell out of it with a fork, and turn them into a buttered skillet. Ten minutes later he sat at the table, scrambled eggs, sausage, toast and coffee in front of him.

    Now fed, he trundled back into the bedroom to find yesterdays T-shirt and socks. Digging in the closet he found his lawn mowin’ shoes, the oldest sneakers he had, stained green with grass from ages past. Outside he sat on the front porch, put the socks and shoes on, realized the first task for this Saturday morning was to fix that busted sprinkler head, and pulled the socks and shoes off. Forty five minutes later he was mud from his bare feet to his shorts, and hands to elbows, with a streak of mud across his forehead and receding hairline, but that sprinkler was fixed. Another forty five minutes and he was putting the lawn mower away and tossing the grass clippings in the green bin. So much for Saturday chores.

    As John walked back to the side door of his house, Tippy came bursting out of the doggie door with his favorite tennis ball. A brisk game of fetch and catch resulted, until Tippy grabbed the ball, and disappeared back through the doggie door. The sun was climbing over the peak of the garage and the day was beginning to warm up, the hills hidden in a lovely tan haze. Another smoggy Saturday in the San Gabriel Valley.

    John walked back into the house, turned on the swamp cooler in the bedroom and made sure the windows were open or cracked. Back in the bedroom he stripped off the now sweaty shorts, T, and socks and added them to the dirty clothes bag he kept in the closet. “So let the neighbors get a peak,” he thought as he walked back through the house and into his office/HAM shack. The office chair whooshed as he settled his bulk into the chair, turned on his two meter rig, and tuned it to the Rio Hondo repeater.

    “Anybody on, this is KA6ETP, over,” he said into the microphone and released the key.

    Nothing. Normally he would have met his HAM friends at a local restaurant for breakfast, but not enough of them could make it today so they had called it off. So now what? Home Base? He could do that tomorrow. Groceries? Tomorrow. He pondered a trip to Penny’s to replace some thread bare socks and underwear, but that could wait till tomorrow as well. Mr. Big Man, that was where he needed to go. He had been fitted for a new suit two weeks ago, and it should be ready today. So shower, shave, head over there and get some lunch. That was right next to Penny’s so he should take be able to take care of that as well.

    He had turned off the shower and grabbed the towel when he heard, “KA6ETP, N6WI you still there John?”

    Toweling off, he walked back to his equipment, picked up and keyed the mic of the two meter rig, and once again settled his bulk into his office chair.

    “N6WI, KA6ETP, still here Bob.”

    “How’s it hanging, buddy,” Bob said?

    “Mostly to the left,” came John’s reply.

    A discussion of the latest centerfold then ensued, and for these two, the centerfold had nothing to do with Playboy. Their centerfold was in the latest HAM magazine showing the latest in 6 meter transceivers. By the end of the conversation, John had managed to dress and had Tippy at his feet.

    “Let me give you a call on land line. N6WI out,” came Bob’s final call.

    “Sure, no problem. KA6ETP out,” John ended his side.

    Turning his two meter rig off, John stood and walked out to the kitchen to get some water, Tippy shadowing him all the way.

    When the phone rang, John picked it up and said, “John.”

    “Hey, you wanna go with me to a PWP meeting tonight?” It was Bob. PWP, Parents Without Partners. John winced as he remembered the last meeting he had attended such a meeting with Bob.

    “Ah man. You know I’m no good at dancing.”

    “Hell John, all ya gotta do is shuffle your feet and grab their ass now and then.” Bob was a two-time divorcee, about 10 years older than John, and roughly the same size through the middle. John figured Bob had the evil eye on a lonely widow or divorcee and wanted him there as camouflage.

    “I gotta go pick up a suit …”

    “That’s perfect John! The ladies will fall all over you.”

    “I can’t. I’m going to help setup for a yard sale tomorrow for my Barbershop chapter.”

    “Ah man, I was hoping you could be my wingman,” said Bob. Confirmed. Camouflage.

    The next morning, John was up and out early, wearing khaki shorts, white socks and tennis, and his dark blue chapter polo shirt. Off to the yard sale his Barbershop chorus was having, he first loaded a few items into his Lincoln. Leroy and Joyce were an older couple, Leroy singing bass to John’s baritone, and had volunteered their yard for the sale.

    It was early Sunday morning and things were slow. A few of the guys were setting up the tables, and moving heavier items, while many of their spouses were arranging the items on the tables. John was helping set up the stage that would be used for a chapter quartet or two to sing. Hey, it was a Barbershop Harmony chapter, and quartetting was part of Barbershop, so why not have a song or two?

    John felt a touch on his shoulder and turned to see Joyce.

    “Morning,” he said.

    “John, could you and Sarah take a run up to Sam’s Club and get some coffee creamer and sugar? Maybe some cups too. We just don’t have enough. Leroy said we did, but he didn’t know,” Joyce said.

    John set the generator down he was carrying, said “Sure. No problem. Sarah?”

    “Come with me, I’ll introduce you.” Joyce led him up the steps to the side door of the house and into the kitchen. The aroma of fresh baking cookies, brownies, and only the Quaker in Joyce knew what else, assaulted John’s senses as he walked into that kitchen. Joyce led him over to the oven where he saw the faded blue jeans covered behind of a women bent over and pulling another sheet of brownies from the oven.

    “Sarah,” Joyce said, “this is John, and I was wondering if you two could go do some shopping for us?”

    “Uh sure.” Sarah stood. Short, ok shorter than John. Brunette, hair done up in a bun. Blue eyes. Small nose. Nice smile. Cute. “Hi John, I’m Sarah,” she said offering her hand. “Ooops,” she pulled the hand back, pulled the oven mitt off, and offered the hand again.

    “Hi Sarah,” John took her hand but did not give the typical male on male squeeze. Dishwater blonde, seasoned with grey. Mustache, liberally seasoned with grey, shadowed by not a huge, but not small, nose. Blue eyes, metal framed glasses, square jaw. Nice smile. Cute.

    “What do we need to get?” John asked turning back to Joyce.

    “Here, let me make you a list. I’ll be right back.” Joyce disappeared into an adjoining room off the kitchen.

    “You here by yourself?” John said.

    “Mmm hmm. Drove up from Long Beach last night. I’ve known Joyce and Leroy for years.”

    “Nice folks,” John said. “Those Joyce’s brownies?”

    “Actually they are mine. Triple pecans. Remind me to get some pecans too. I used an awful lot of hers, and she said she wanted me to bake another batch.”

    From the room Joyce had entered Leroy started to say, “What!? We don’t need (ooff!).” Smiling, Joyce walked back into the kitchen and handed Sarah a list. She was closely followed by Leroy, rubbing his ample middle, and who handed John the chapters Sam’s Club card.

    “I can use mine,” John said waving it away.

    “Nah, use the chapters. We got credit on it, and it should be enough,” Leroy said.

    Turning to Sarah John asked, “I’m in a dark grey Lincoln out back. I can meet you out front, if you want?”

    “Let me get my purse and I’ll walk with you.” Disappearing into the same hallway Joyce had used, Sarah was back in just seconds with her bag over her shoulder.

    “Take your time you two,” said Joyce and waved to them.

    John opened the door for her and they walked down the back steps, and towards the alley where John had parked his Lincoln. He opened the door for her, and then walked to the drivers side, sat down, buckled up, started the car, and drove out of the alley.

    John looked at Sarah, smiled, and said, “You get the feeling we’ve been setup?”

    “Oh I know we’ve been setup. Joyce has been looking out the window all morning and talking about nothing but this fella named John that should be here any minute. You’re a software engineer, contractor, live alone and own the ‘nicest little house in North Whittier.'”

    “Hacienda Heights, just off Turnbull Canyon at the base of the Whittier Hills but it used to be called North Whittier Heights.”

    “Ah. I also note you are a gentleman.”

    “Huh?”

    “Doors. You opened the door for me at the house and again at the car. Its a small thing, but nice.”

    Grinning John said, “Could not have done otherwise. I got my head thunked by my grampa, Dad, and older brother if I didn’t. So how about yourself?”

    “Divorced. Apartment in Long Beach. Son up in Bakersfield, working for Kern County. I was born just outside of Dallas, but grew up in Bakersfield.”

    “Really? I’m a Texan. West Texas, down around oil country. Odessa, Midland, those places. Here we are.”

    John pulled into the Sam’s Club parking lot, parked, got out and headed for Sarah’s door, but she had already exited and had shut the door by the time he got there. They walked into the coolness of Sam’s Club and found a flat bed cart.

    “Not sure where everything is but the pecans are just a couple aisles over there to the right.”

    “You know where the pecans are?” Sarah said.

    “Yeah, my Mom taught me how to bake her tollhouse cookie recipe.” Patting his girth he said, “And this didn’t come from salads. Here they are. How many do we need?”

    “Oh, these are the big bags. I’d say 3, two for today and one to replace Joyces.”

    John picked up 4 bags and sat one aside. “I use’m too, and I’m out.”

    “Brown sugar?” Sarah asked.

    “Next aisle over.”

    “Hey, now I am impressed. Software engineer, who knows his way around the kitchen and bulk food aisles.”

    Smiling, John winked at Sarah and said, “Bachelor desparation. Eventually you have to cook something. Mom and Dad moved to Arizona, and I missed the smells of pies and cookies during Christmas, so I learned. Tippy got a few of the first attempts, but even he wouldn’t touch some of them. I even bake my own bread.”

    John loaded the boxes of coffee cups Sarah had pointed to. “Tippy?” she said.

    “My ten pounds of arrogance called a Jack Russell. Plays ball when he wants to, and only as long as he wants to. That all of it?”

    “Yes,” Sarah said double checking the list. “Let’s go check out.”

    They went through the checkout line, loaded the car, pulled out of the parking lot, and John headed back toward Joyce and Leroy’s.

    “There’s a Carl’s Jr. Like a cola?” John said.

    “That sounds great. Diet Dr. Pepper if they have it.”

    Pulling up to the drive-through John ordered two medium sized Diet Dr. Peppers, and handed the young lady in the window a $10 bill. Bare seconds later she handed him the two soft drinks and more change than he expected.

    “This is too much,” John said and started to return the extra change.

    The young lady, maybe a day over 16, said “Oh sir, your senior discount.”

    John, flustered, suddenly reddened, stammered, “Oh … ok … sure,” and pocketed the extra change. Sarah, meanwhile, was fighting to keep from spitting soda out of her nose.

    “An old geezer, huh?” she said, laughing.

    John, embarrassed, had pulled over to the side of the parking lot, to collect himself. “No, I’m only 50. Damn, that’s the first time I’ve received a Senior discount. Must be my stupid mustache. And by the way, you were a big help.” By this time he was laughing with Sarah. Turning back onto the street, they headed back to the yard sale. Sarah, reached over and placed her hand on John’s knee for a few seconds, and they both just felt good about the day.

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  • After reading this post it inspired me to take on the challenge. I managed to convince my friends, who are also interested in writing, to join me. A few months ago we set up a collective blog where we could express our creative needs, but we don’t really post as regularly as we initially wanted.

    Starting from Sunday, until the end of the year, we’ll be taking on the challenge. We decided to keep it a little interesting so we included a variety of creative writing forms such as poetry, writing prompts and even comic strips.

    This is our post: https://theinsomniacowls.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/one-submission-a-week-challenge/

    Please wish us luck! And thank you for the great content as always!

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  • pyotr_leflegin

    I have loved Ray Bradbury’s work since I first read The Martian Chronicles, as The Silver Locusts, more years ago than I can remember, and I have also read some of his inspirational stuff as well. Howver, I can’t find myself able to agree with his idea that fifty-two awful stories cannot be written on the trot!

    I have written hundreds, and not one of them was good enough not to end up in the shredder; I have said it before, and I shall say it again; ‘Writers are born, not made’.

    Thank you for a fascinating and lively web-site, and good luck to everyone who dares to take up a pen. You are better than me!

    • LilianGardner

      I agree, ‘Writers are born, not made’. So it is for me; I enjoy writing but I’m definitely not a writer. My aim is to have fun and learn more about writing with this course. I’m a bit ‘bashful’ to post my writing, but the community will understand, I’m sure.

      • pyotr_leflegin

        I’m happy that you are enjoying your writing, Lilian; my problem is, that much as I want to write — or possibly to have written — it isn’t always easy to separate the two, I don’t find writing fun any more, and haven’t for a long time.

        It has taken on most of the attributes of an unloved chore that needs doing but will not bring any joy in fulfilling it. So, where next?

        p_l

        • LilianGardner

          So sorry about this, but bless you for being straightforward. At times I feel like you do, and after a while an inner voice prods me to write; leave something that one day maybe family or friends will read it and ‘delight’?

        • Nockian

          Re-discover why you began. Forget what it is you are trying to achieve. It will come back to you if you remove expectation.

          This malaise often happens with athletes who once ran simply for the joy of running, then came competition, wins, defeats, endless training and dieting to win a medal. The question is always to remember what you liked about the activity in the first place, place one foot in front of another, be simple, write shorter, go detail, notice funny situations about the most mundane things, bring boring things to life, decorate, embellished.

  • This is some great advice. As a storyteller, I want to make sure I’m prolific and always producing something, and this is a great way to approach it. I love how you broke it down day by day. I’m definitely going to try this.

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  • Tami Sinclair

    I have been using the tool “Write Or Die” to help me with those fast drafts and really enjoy the way it pushes you forward. I don’t know the guy who created it, but I just love using is to I recommend when I can. I has helped increase my pace of writing and thought I’d share that.
    Very good article that gives a good structure for getting started. Thanks for this!

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  • Steve

    I love this idea. But one question… Is this even possible if you work full time, go to college part-time (2 classes), and have a 15 month old baby girl?

  • I just came across Bradbury’s method and this has been extremely helpful.

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