Oct 23, 2010

Writing a NaNo Anthology of Friday Flash

In Readers are Everything, I wrote about posting short stories as gifts to readers.  Develop an audience by giving away writing of quality.

Time management becomes an issue.  If I let myself, I could spend all week preparing for one Friday flash and then the rest of the week responding to comments and reading the stories of others. While this would be fun, I would no longer be working on my novels.

My solution?  NaNoWriMo.

If I write 50K words of short stories, I'll have a year's worth of stories for my website.

I wasn't sure this was a legit idea for NaNo, but I'd heard of NaNo Rebels, so I pursued it anyway.  Being a rebel sounds nice, yeah? Then I read "Am I a rebel?" and I was kind of disappointed to find out I'm probably not.

This is from the above link:

  • I'm writing a collection of short stories. Am I a rebel?
    Probably not. There's no actual rule on this one. We define a novel as "a lengthy work of fiction." However, we the moderators feel that since you find short story collections on the shelves alongside longer works of fiction, if they're related, they count. They need to have some common theme, or linking thread that weaves them together that makes them a single, "lengthy work of fiction." Which leads us to the next:

  • I'm writing a series of unrelated essays/short stories/vignettes. Am I a rebel?
    Probably. Again, there's no official rule on this one, but if you're just combining unrelated work to get the 50k, it's probably not a novel.

So the only tiny, little problem I have:  the idea is quite likely a scrunchy little bit of INSANITY.

I've written novels quickly.  One scene leads to another, the whole book gains momentum, and words flow.  Stories are cute little monsters that devour entire days in the writing of 300 words.

So I waited to announce my intention until I tested the water.  For three weeks, I've been building up to writing two stories per day.  These aren't for inclusion in the NaNo anthology. This is water-testing. This is strength-building.

I still don't know if I can do it.

One story a day almost killed me the first week. Then I added one story plus a story built on a novel outtake (again, these results are not for NaNo). Finally, I worked up to writing two original stories a day.  This required serious stretching and anguish, but I did it.  And yet, even working at this level, I'm not sure I'll make it to 50K.

But you know what?  My exploration and strength training resulted in 19 stories written in Claire's world. I've posted four of them on Claire's website. If I write like hell all through NaNo, I'm going to have the results I want, even if I don't meet the 50K.

And you know what else?  That means I can start writing novels again on December 1st. Once a week I'll edit a story and get it ready for the site, but I won't need to write new short stories while I'm working on a novel.  (And honestly, it's difficult for me to work on anything else when I'm absorbed in a novel.)

If this works, I can take a break from traditional novel writing to write another anthology next November.

What do you think?  Anyone want to write their own anthology while I'm writing mine?

And hey--no matter what you're writing, rebel or not, If you're crazy enough to attempt 50K in a month, I'd love to be your NaNo buddy.  My identity there is same as twitter: johannaharness.  Tweet me and I'll be sure to add you back.

Let the games begin (you know, soonish).


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Johanna Harness, Dolly and Whiz Buzz, Reader Writer. Reader Writer said: My happy career plans (and time management): I started posting my new plans with my blog entry, Happy... http://dlvr.it/7RbWc #writerblogs [...]

  2. @johannaharness encouraging post. I'm doing #NaNo for first time! I'll find you to "buddy" (mine is same as twitter also).

  3. I think it's a fantastic idea to use NaNo to write stories which you then polish throughout the year and share on your blog, allowing you time to concentrate on a novel. Although, if the stories written during NaNo have to be linked or related, I might stumble at that hurdle.

    I wrote a #fridayflash for the first time this week and knowing how I work and write, I can easily see it taking over my writing week to the detriment of the novel I actually want to write, if I attempt one every week.

  4. My latest Claire short story (http://clairemorgane.com/blog/2010/10/th...) and my decision to write an anthology of stories for Nano (http://johannaharness.com/blog/2010/10/2...)

  5. @johannaharness great! didn't see the links this week! Heading to read the Claire short story! thanks :)

  6. @johannaharness Won't do it this year as it's my first time but that's a novel idea on how to approach NaNo. I like it.

  7. @katheastman Thanks. I haven't done NaNo b/c it never fit w/ what I needed to accomplish at the time. This I need.

  8. @johannaharness It sounds like a great way to make it work for you. Look forward to hearing how you get on with it.

  9. @johannaharness I've considered doing something like that just for myself as a way of fleshing out characters backstories.

  10. @jennspiller All of the short stories on Claire's site take place before the 3rd chapter of my first book. (No spoilers)

  11. @jennspiller It's amazing how much back story I'm uncovering. Great intro for readers & great for me too.

  12. @johannaharness Your short stories are great! I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year. My ID is OneWordAtATimes See you there :) #amwriting

  13. Best of luck with the anthology, Johanna.

    I'm writing a traditional NaNovel and very much looking forward to it.

  14. @clairesvendsen Hooray! Just added you on #NaNo.

  15. @johannaharness An anthology of shorts is a great idea for #nanowrimo. I congratulate you on your ambition! :)