I’m all about challenges.
I like to be challenged by the world around me. But even more so, I like to challenge myself. So when I started writing flash fiction (super short stories that are usually less than 1,000 words), I challenged myself to write at least one new story a week.
In order to hold myself accountable (because as much as I’m all about challenges, sometimes I can be all about excuses), I created Little Write Lies (littlewritelies.com).
When I launched the site, I told my family and friends. I posted links to it on Facebook and Twitter with the tag line “Weekly Short Fiction." Despite my being terrified that my stories would fall flat or readers would criticize my writing, I told everyone I knew about the site. I did this because I wanted to grow as a writer and - more importantly - I didn’t want to let myself quit before I had given myself a chance to excel. I knew that if I had people watching to see if I either succeeded or failed, I would succeed.
And I did. I’ve been posting for nearly half a year now, my readership has been growing like crazy, and I can feel my writing evolving with each story.
“But why flash fiction?” some of my readers ask. “Why so short?”
Writing flash fiction is a challenge. It’s tough to write a complete story - beginning, climax and resolution - all in such a limited space. I’m not saying that it’s easy to write a novel or a traditional short story. I’m just saying that flash fiction presents a different type of challenge. One that most writers don’t encounter too often. By trade, we writers can ramble on as much as we want. That’s the beauty of art: the freedom to say whatever you want to say and to take however long you want to say it.
But slap a word limit on your story and suddenly it becomes a whole new kind of art. Each word becomes so much more important. You start to question the necessity of entire paragraphs. You obsessively weigh the merits of ‘the’ versus ‘a’. You spend hours editing only 500 words. No matter how short a piece of flash fiction is, it is never simple. And that, in itself, is the challenge.
The most challenged I’ve been in my writing has been in flash fiction. But with each completed story that I post on Little Write Lies, I feel a deeply satisfying sense of accomplishment.
What I'm getting at here is this: challenge yourself. Take something you love, set the stakes a little higher than they already are, and watch yourself succeed.
About this Guest Poster:
Taylor Eaton is a writer and linguist who is constantly fascinated by language. Playing with words makes her far happier than it should. Her flash fiction can be found at www.littlewritelies.com and in the forthcoming issue of Em Dash Literary Magazine. Between bouts of writing, Taylor tweets about words, wine and Southern California at twitter.com/tayloreaton.