How to write a short story in an hour?

Have you ever felt your lack of time is hampering you from writing? Do you feel it would be a lot better if you manage to write a short story in one sitting.

I have felt the same way several times during my writing journey. For a full time software engineer with a demanding work life and a family man having one wife and two kids now, it’s hard for me to get time. So I need to effectively use whatever time is available.

So, I generally make a point to write a short story in one sitting. There are few reasons why I want to do so.

I don’t want to break my rhythm

Assume I write for an hour today and I manage only 70% of one short story. I would have gained a lot of momentum by the end of the hour, but due to lack of time, I have to stop working on it and start work the next day. So, the next day it’s like I had to start from scratch. My mind has to get into that writer mode. So, I nearly take another half an hour to get into the groove probably by reading my story again and then start writing. Here is a problem. I can go into the editing mode if I start reading, because I could easily catch errors while reading. So that can take up some time as well. Sometimes I lose motivation and stop the work for the day. And sometimes, I finish the work. But the point is, I take two days to do a work that I could have possibly done within a day.

I want to get more done within less time.

Every writer wants to write more and more. I am by no means different. In fact, I also want to write more in less time so that I can get to my finished work fast. Nothing motivates me like finished work. So I want to get more done in less time.

And a blessing came to me in the form of my “A to Z short story challenge

In short, in this challenge, I managed to write 26 short stories in 7 days. And best part is I also managed to edit them and publish them all in my blog. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will obviously know what I am talking about.

To give an idea, I had to write 26 short stories each story starting with letter A to Z. So, on an average 4 short stories per day. Imagine the challenge, I was a person who was struggling to write an hour per day. And before I attempted the challenge, my work routine was quite hectic, so I had literally no time to write. So I had lost touch for writing short stories, but I knew maybe I needed this kind of challenge to get back into my writing best.

At the end of the challenge, I managed to finish all the first drafts of the short stories within an hour, on average.

So what were the key strategies/tactics I followed?

Came up with the words/theme before I wrote the story

Due to the constrained nature of the challenge, I was forced to do some planning in order to get moving. Single most good thing I did was that I came up with the words that I would write about. I had a list of A to Z words that would form the base of my short story.

For eg.

A – Anxiety, Addiction and Attraction

B – Boredom, Bookmark, Bankrupt

C – Champion, Cigarette, Clown.

And I chose words that struck some chord with me. I searched in google for words starting with A, words starting with B, etc. And I would note down the words that would trigger some sort of reaction in me. It’s a strange feeling, maybe it was intuition more than anything else. I ignored the other words.

Alternatively, you could always use Writing prompts or themes or events which you get inspired from, as a basis of your short story. Idea is to write.

The advantage of having a word, theme or an event is that it already triggers the writing process inside your head. For eg. when I heard Addiction, I wanted to tell the story of addiction from the point of view of an addict. So I started imagining a man who had been divorced due to his alcohol addiction. And what would go through his mind, etc.

So, by the time I had sat down to write the story, the words started flowing in. And once a writer moves past the initial inertia, he gets into a flow state which is critical. So due to this single activity, every time I got into the flow state faster than normal.

No distractions rule

Writing is a creative process. If there are distractions, it’s difficult to get into the creative mindset because our mind can be wandering.

So, as a rule, I switched off my mobile and closed down all browsers and opened just one browser tab which was for my writing.

Idea is anything other than writing during a writing session is a distraction.

No editing rule

Again, editing can be a distraction when writing your first draft. So, I decided that I would not edit during my writing session. My editing session would take place later.

Struck to my strengths

One of the key things that I did in order to finish the challenge within time was that I struck to my strengths. In the initial planning stages of this challenge, I was in a dilemma whether to write short stories (which was my usual style, a bit longer) or write Flash fiction (more shorter version). First of all, I haven’t tried writing flash fiction before so I stayed away from writing it. I struck to my strengths, which was short stories and it paid to me.

Point is when you are trying to write in a short period of time, you got to stick to your strengths. Experiments are for another occasion, not when you are trying to finish something fast.

Conclusion

All these strategies/tactics helped me finish most of my stories within an hour. Do let me know what strategies you follow to write your short stories fast? Feel free to share.

If you found this post useful, please share it with your writer friends.

If you are interested in more such tips and tricks, you can find them in my new Ebook “What I Learnt by writing 26 short stories in 7 days” where I share my journey of taking up a unique and daunting writing challenge.

You can try out the sample chapter from these Amazon links:

India: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B077DS73Z4
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077DS73Z4
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077DS73Z4

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