May 28, 2017

A Short Story Writing Marathon: Introduction

Run/Write: The Briefest of Intros

I’ve been writing seriously and regularly since 2009. I started running in 2015 and it has given me great perspective on writing. You see, writing is a subjective art, running is a measurable, quantifiable sport. Applying the lessons of running (the need for training, a race plan, proper support, gear, etc.) all help illuminate writing for me. I will be applying this concept to this series of blogs and plan to write more about this run/write concept. See all the posts about run/write.

A Short Story Writing Marathon

What in the world is a short story writing marathon? Well, there is no official description, but I’ve decided to do a challenge started by one of my writing mentors, Dean Wesley Smith, and applying run/write thinking to it, it is a marathon because I’m going to write 30 short stories, one after the other, for however long it takes. A running marathon is 26.2 miles, so it seems fair to call a writing marathon 30 stories. The term “marathon” also properly captures the need for training, preparation, and pace.

And just like if I was running a marathon, I have a target race time. I am shooting for 60 days.

Here’s what the math on that looks like (lots of guesses, but a starting point):

Stories 30
Average Story Length 3,500
Total Words 105,000
Words/Hour Finished 700
Hours Needed 150
Days in Challenge 60
Finished Words / Day 1,750
Hours / Day 2.50

Dean wrote 30 stories in 30 days in April. He’s a long-time professional that I think of as the equivalent of someone who can run a marathon in 2.5 hours. Me, I’d be happy to run one in 5 hours. So he did 30 stories in 30 days, I’m going to try for 60. And if I don’t make 60? I’ll keep going until I finish the “race.”

This really is all Dean’s fault. I’ve been coming out of some difficult times personally and loved following his daily posts in April when he wrote those 30 stories (yup, I’m copying that too. Doing this in public and recording what I learn will help me do this). A light bulb went off when I was reading those blog posts and I knew that this was possible (more about strategy in the next post). Dean offered to be first reader for a few writers crazy enough to try this. With the support of my wonderful wife and my amazing team of beta readers, I took Dean up on his challenge. The madness… err… fun, starts on June 1st.

But Why?

Why would anyone want to write 30 stories in 60 days (or 30 days for that matter)? Well, why would anyone want to run 26.2 miles in a few hours? The answers are individual, of course, but for me here are some of them, in no particular order:

  • To prove I can. Getting my writing productivity to this level really changes everything and will force me to confront the doubts that slow me down.
  • Because life has been tough for a few years and I need a fun, and yes, fairly overwhelming, challenge.
  • Because I love short stories and I love to write.
  • It’s time to take this to the next level.

What’s Next?

The next blog post will be about preparation and strategy from a very run/write perspective. Once June 1st hits, I will blog about it once a day until the writing marathon ends (i.e. the 30 stories are written). These posts will be short, as I will need to save my time for writing the stories. After it’s all said and done, I’ll do a wrap up post and a few months after the dust settles a followup to see what happened with all those stores and how it changed things for me.

Feel free to follow along. This is going to be interesting.

Next post: A Short Story Writing Marathon: The Plan

Daily posts start with Day 1.

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Robert J. McCarter

Robert J. McCarter is the author of more than ten novels and over a hundred short stories...... learn more

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  1. Dean got me started as well, some time ago. Refreshing to see you posting your experiences. And I’ve shared the comments from Dean’s site as well as your blog with my writer-readers. Keep writing.

    1. Harvey, thanks so much for stopping by. Only a week in now and this is proving to be a very interesting and fairly difficult challenge. I’m having fun with the stories and learning a lot too.

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