52 for strength

My novel died in February of 2014. It died because I wasn’t good enough to save it.

I spent a long time with one set of characters, with one set of situations and one, albeit large, plot.
Writing is like exercise, they say.

So writing my novel was like I just got on the bicep machine and worked a bicep. It’s big. 200k words. So that’s good. I learned a lot, too. I don’t regret it. I learned how to write every day, and what it felt like to write 2000 words. How to be committed, and how to trick myself into thinking that it’s actually fun to write.

But it was time that I recognize that I’m all bicep and no core.

I got lots of valuable stuff out of the experience, but what I didn’t get to do was practice. Practice writing different types of characters, scenarios, settings, moods, themes, etc. The core muscles, to continue with the exercise thing.

So how does one go about building up that core of writer strength?

I’ve taken writing classes and seminars. I’ve read books on writing. I’ve watched videos. I have writing software (Scrivener). I’ve got a great keyboard, the best computer, and time and space that I can use to write. But none of these things make a good writer.

Only writing does that. Writing lots of stuff. All the time.

This is where a quote from Ray Bradbury comes in.

“Write a short story a week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.”

I like those odds.

So, in early February, with my novel wheezing it’s final breaths on the screen before me, I started thinking about my story a week project, or 52 for Strength.

I did a little googling for some help with strategy and for any info that might come in handy to know before setting out on a big long journey like this one, and I found a pretty good guide.

Something published by writer Jay Lake. It’s just a six-page PDF called Jay’s Guidelines for Writing Fiction outlining his writing process. But it was exactly what I needed.

It’s just a few simple rules to stick to:

  1. Write a story every week.
  2. Finish everything you start.
  3. Don’t self-critique while you’re writing.
  4. Work on one thing at a time.

I like it. Simple. Common sense. Nothing too elaborate. He goes on to flesh these things out, and it just made sense to me. So I’m doing it. Now there’s just one thing missing…

The stories.

Where does one get 52 story ideas?