Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How is the Experiment Going?

W1S1 Q1 is over. It's incredible to think that we're already 25% of the way through the year. I thought I'd take the opportunity to review how it's all working after three months, for me at least.

When we set this scheme up we called it an "experiment". Is it possible to write and submit a new story each week as Bradbury did? And if it is, is doing so a good idea? Is it helpful to the writing process or just a burden?

I guess we'll all have our own views, but my honest answers after 3 months are that it is possible and that it's both a help and a burden, actually. But mostly a help.

On the plus side, the incentive of "having" to write a story each week works for me. Obviously if I failed one week, nothing bad would happen, apart from my fellow Write1Sub1ers laughing and calling me names. But wanting to keep up is a great incentive. It puts me in the mindset of thinking, "Right, what's this week's story going to be?" Having to write something no matter how good or bad is a great spur. I know I've written a bunch of stuff, some of it already published, that I wouldn't have otherwise. I've also written stories that have been bouncing around in my head for a long time which I just wasn't getting round to. So, yay for Write1Sub1.

On the negative side, concentrating more on shorter fiction has probably meant I've spent less time on the longer stuff. I'm editing a novel at the moment, and that's coming on nicely. But the novel I'd hoped to start this year : haven't touched it. Equally, I've tended to focus on shorter short fiction, if that makes sense. A 10,000 word novella doesn't fit very well into a week's writing in my universe. If I was doing the monthly scheme, that would work better. So I've tended to write short short stories, flash stories and microstories for Twitter etc. Again, this has worked well for me and I've produced some stuff I'm proud of. But a small part of me does worry that it's cheating, I'll admit. One Twitter fiction story a week is pretty easy to do, let's be honest. I find myself writing and submitting four or five Twitter stories and maybe a flash story too in a week to feel like I've done the scheme justice. Does anyone else feel like that?

I think there's also a danger of rushing things. I've fallen into the pattern of drafting out a story one week and editing/polishing/submitting the next. That works pretty well but it's still a tight timescale. It leaves little room for beta readers to get involved, for example. We were very clear up front that it doesn't have to be the same story you write and submit each week/month and I think that's important. You need time to set things aside and come back to them. Actually I think it might be a good idea to submit things written several weeks or even months ago - but obviously that makes it hard to be submitting early on in the year.

Overall, I'm thrilled I got involved in Write1Sub1 and will most definitely keep it up for the year. Next year I may seek a different balance though. We shall see. What do you think? How's it been for you so far?


  1. I'm finding W1S1 keeps me focused. Knowing I "need" to do a story a month (at least!) makes me WANT to write that story more. Does that make sense?

    I think it's also about community, like with NaNo - knowing others are with you, supporting you, encouraging you is a huge help when those rejections come in.

    And I don't think it matters how long the stories are - some stories just don't need as many words to be told. (Of course, I might be biased since I'm in the Hint Fiction antho, so take that for what it's worth.) :)

  2. I can honestly say that prior to W1S1, I've never experienced this much eustress and distress with regard to my writing. But I'm so glad we started this experiment, and I know I'm better for it.

    I have 14 new short stories submitted that probably wouldn't have been written yet, if not for W1S1.

    I have 27 published pieces of microfiction and haiku that probrably wouldn't exist, if not for W1S1.

    And I have a giant ulcer that is enlarging daily--

    Just kidding.

    For me, W1S1 has been about pushing my writing to the limit; so I've committed to write and submit a new short story every week, just like Mr. Bradbury did so long ago. Nothing accepted yet, but I'm pleased with my work and consider it some of my best stuff.

    Now if only the editors would agree...

  3. Before this experiment, I wasn't into writing short stories. I was into novels all the way, and my writing was sporadic at best.

    Now not only am I writing nearly every day, but I can call myself a published author. I have three stories appearing in anthologies that never would have happened if I hadn't started this. And I've discovered I love the whole process: writing, polishing, submitting, rejections and acceptances, resubmitting. I love all of it.

    I do miss working on my novels. This weekly pace of writing and submitting means I have no time left to spend on the several novels I have written over the years.

    It's been a struggle. Some weeks I cheat: I don't write or submit, but then I make up for it the next week. Or the week after.

    But I have already achieved my goal: to write more and to get my work out there. And I am continuously amazed with how much I am enjoying this journey.

  4. Guys,

    Three hugely encouraging and inspiring responses there. It really is a privelege to be involved and to know others are going through the same thing.

  5. My expectations were a little too high, honestly. I signed up for the monthly (x2) without anticipating have as rough a Feb/March with the family as I did. Despite that, I am 4 and 4 as of today. I'm sure I could have squeezed a few more flash pieces in there, but it would have been a fight. I get the character and the situation first, and the complexity of the conflict is what determines the format for the story.

    So what did I learn so far? I can't control my committments, nor my muse. I CAN keep my fingers on the keyboard and aim in a particular direction. I've learned I really have to choose what I want to work on. The carefree hopping from one project to the next has decreased in an honest effort to get the closest-to-ready story in tip top shape.

    I imagine this is closer to experiencing a full time writer's schedule than what I'd previously envisioned.

  6. Since I don't work, finding writing time has not been a problem, even if the ideas have been sluggish at times, BUT I am appalling at selling myself, at putting stuff anywhere but in a folder, so for me W1S1 has been brilliant in terms of making me put something out each week.
    One one level it still feels inadequate, and will continue to do so until I actually get paid for anything ... maybe in the second half od the year. But, yes W1S1 is working for me.

  7. I went overboard, as I often do, and now I'm settling back into the Ray Lite, or the modified version of it. Two stories a month. I think I can handle it, but I may need to retool as I'm now "work shopping" my pieces.

  8. You hit on a lot of great points. This has been a largely positive experience for me. I've discovered twitter fiction, which has been incredibly fun. On the other hand, more of my subs have been twitter fiction than I'd anticipated, and yes, it does feel a bit like cheating, since I had anticipated writing longer stories.

    The weekly time frame is tight. I do feel there's a danger of rushing revisions, and I don't want to sub stories I know aren't as polished as they can be.

    What's interesting is the writing part is easy. It's the revising and subbing that's harder to pull off week after week, especially since I like to let stories sit a day or so between revisions, and I do a lot of revising! I'm building a backlog of stories to revise (mostly all of the longer ones), while I'd hoped W1S1 would get me revising stories from last year! Now, to figure out how to do that, keep up here, and keep moving on the novel I'm working on!

  9. I'm not participating in w1s1 (as I've just today found out about you); however, I have committed to producing one flash fiction piece daily for the next year. So far, so good but with these observations:
    - I love having to produce daily completed stories
    - I'm hoping my quality doesn't fall off trying to keep up this pace
    - It does tend to push other, longer projects off the calendar
    - I'm using all my first pub rights by posting these all on my blog but I'm trying to build a readership
    Just some random thoughts that I thought might apply to w1s1 also.
    I'm going to think about joining by just expanding and submitting on flash piece per month...
    Good luck everyone!