I’m not one to turn down a challenge, if it seems like something worth doing, but sometimes I do wonder whether what comes as a result is at all worth the effort. Recently I saw a challenge – or a target more than anything – leveled by someone on Twitter. The challenge was to write fifty-two short stories, one per week, for a year. What made it less interesting for me, as I tend to write somewhat slower than this challenge would require, was the added line that at least one of the stories would be worthwhile. I asked myself, as I read the whole Tweet: what is the point?
I know that some people simply have the need to write, and that simply writing is also a catalyst to writing better or, which is probably a better target, writing something worthwhile. I can also understand a challenge of this nature when it comes to photography – where it is more usually three hundred and sixty-five photographs in a year. But the idea of having one good story at the end of a year of writing, with fifty-two themes, fifty-two sets of characters, plots, conversation, settings seems, to me, to be a waste. Why not concentrate on one or two good ideas? Why not work through an idea or two over a longer period and guarantee a good story at the end of it? Why not set yourself a target of writing one very good work packed with ideas and then beginning another one?
Photo Credit: Lívia Cristina – Creative Commons
Few of us are really professional writers, we do not rely on writing to make a living, to bring bread to the table. We are not journalists with a deadline to produce a set number of words each day, although I can well understand those who do attempt to meet a writing target of one thousand, five thousand or more words each day. What we should be doing, as far as I am concerned, is producing something worthwhile, and not simply exhausting our capabilities with mass. Quality is far better than having thousands of pages of stuff which is going nowhere.
Once an idea is there it is worth spending time on, worth bringing out and polishing. I would much rather have one good idea and work on it to completion, than have several mediocre ideas which I work through simply to meet a target. What happens when the good story is there in week five, or week ten or even week thirty? Do we just leave it there and move on to the next story because time is pressing? Because we have a challenge we need to meet? Shouldn’t we take that good idea, work on it, expand and polish it with editing, re-writing and new ideas?
I am all for a challenge, but there are times when we should be prepared to turn around and say: stop! This is the one I’m going to work on, and never mind the rest of the year. We do not fail, as far as I am concerned, in not completing fifty-two works, we succeed in completing one where the time spent was worthwhile.
Love & Kisses, Viki.