Every year, I go to a group of cabins in the mountains on the banks of the Mackenzie River here in Oregon for Ghost Story Weekend. We set the goal of starting Friday night and having at least one story ready to read out loud on Saturday night. Most years, pretty much every writer gets a first draft of at least one story. Some of the more practiced and prolific writers will produce as many as three in a twenty-four-hour period.
Every year, someone finds out about this event and tells me I’m lying.
“Nobody can write a short story that fast.”
My response is pretty simple. I say, “Okay.” Then, I go about my business.
Every year, someone else who finds out about it says, “How can they do that?” There’s a hell of difference between the first person and the second. For the second person, I settle in and answer as best I can.
As near as I can tell, there are 4 components to being able to write 1 to 3 short story first drafts in 24 hours.
- You have to believe it’s possible. See it happen, and you start to believe.
- You have to have internalized a sense of what makes a story. This is easy. If you grew up in a family that uses language, you automatically internalized a sense of story by the time you were three years old.
- You have to abandon the concept of making it good or getting it right. This is easy if you’re still four. It’s harder if you’re an adult; however, it can be practiced.
- You have to train yourself to produce in order to discover possibilities. See 3 for caveats.
Originally published by the author on Shadow Spinners with the title, “Brains Don’t Do Random.” Re-posted with author’s permission.
About the Author:
Award-winning writer Eric Witchey’s background in theoretical linguistics, course development, and creative writing combine with over 27 years of full-time freelance experience to allow him to distill nebulous concepts normally attributed to talent or internalized through years of trial-and-error into clear, executable techniques writers can begin to practice immediately. These techniques have been tested in the marketplace, and he has sold 2 collections, 5 novels, and 150 short stories. His stories have appeared under several names, in multiple languages, and on 6 continents. Using the techniques he teaches, he has garnered many awards and accolades, including recognition from Writer’s of the Future, New Century Writers, Short Story America, the International Book Awards, the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Irish Aeon Awards, Writer’s Digest Awards, the Eric Hoffer Prose Awards, and a number of other organizations. His fiction how-to articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, and other print and online sources.