Monday, June 27, 2011

Like an SAT Essay for Writers

I took the plunge.  On the recommendation of a friend, I entered a 24-hour short story contest sponsored by WritersWeekly.com.  Here's the idea:  you sign up for the contest, receive a prompt at 10 am Pacific time on a certain day, and must submit a short story that fits the prompt within 24 hours.  The prompt is, of course, a secret...and you don't know how long the story can be until you receive it.  According to the website, past word limits have ranged from 500 to 2,000.

Argh.

I hate timed exercises.  I already feel like I'm taking the adult version of some SAT II essay.  But I'm doing this for two reasons:

(1) I've been focusing heavily on revising lately, which means I haven't written squat that's new.  This sucks.  Big time.  The contest will force me out of my revising mindset and help get me geared up for the NEW BOOK IDEA.

(2) I'm an obsessive reviser.  I am never, ever done.  I'll revise until kingdom come if you let me.  And although this usually results in better work, I feel, there does come a point at which enough is enough.  The 24-hour turnaround time is going to force me to think out my idea very carefully beforehand, and will forcefully limit the amount of revising I can do.  Even if I freak out and spend all 24 hours on this one story, after the deadline...that's it.  Show's over.  Go big or go home.  I really need this kick in the butt, and there's nothing like a non-negotiable deadline to force my brain into high gear.  (Or, Top Gear, if you get my drift....I'm the American female version of Captain Slow!)

The contest begins on July 9th.  I'll keep you all updated on how I do...and how much I drink to do it.