Challenge,  On Writing

Reading Stories

Going Slow…

There are few enough in the Great Challenge writing a short story per week (a number haven’t started yet), that I can just read a few stories each day during the week and really enjoy the process. A couple of the stories turned in that I have read today really worked, a few didn’t end. But that’s pretty standard.

I am really going to enjoy this. The key is going to be the writers keeping my voice out of their heads and me out of their writing offices.

Here is how that problem goes…

— If I liked a story, the fear then crops up that the next story won’t be as good.

— If I didn’t like a story, the fear crops up that they won’t be able to write a good story.

Lose, lose either way if the writers in the challenge let my comments on their stories in. Like never reading reviews. Too dangerous to let in either good or bad.

With the two month challenges to do thirty stories, I never sent back comments until after the two months, but with a story a week, I have to do all the reading every week, usually from Monday through Saturday. Some weeks I might not be able to read if I am traveling or doing something else like the licensing show here. But it will be easy to catch up from that, but I can’t leave the story comments until the writer misses.

Some writers might not miss and get in 52 stories.

But that will happen only if they can get my comments, one way or the other, out of their minds and just write the next story.

So this challenge has a number of elements. Teaches discipline in the writing and releasing. And helps with learning to keep other people’s voices out of your writing space. Both lessons are fantastically important.

And it gives me some great stories to read. Thanks!




  • Philip

    Excellent point about the pitfalls of good comments.

    It’s a common psychological problem in general, not just in writing, to discount positive feedback about anything you do.

    For example, when I took your Depth Workshop (highly recommend this workshop), I received some great, encouraging comments from you about my work and I very quickly thought, “Naw, he’s just saying that to keep me happy about enrolling in his course.” Meanwhile, had you ripped into my work, I know I would have given THOSE comments full weight and likely thought, “See, I knew it, my writing stinks.”

    Great advice here, Dean. Gotta just tell your stories, trust YOUR Creative Voice and then, later, let your (Dean’s) professional comments go into the subconscious to make you a better write for the next story.

    • dwsmith

      And a lot of people are laughing right now about the idea that I would say anything to keep anyone happy in the Depth workshop. There are people that have redone the same assignment five times before getting it. Not uncommon for someone to redo two or three assignments, actually. I see no reason to say something is good when it is not. Does not help the writer learn.

    • David Anthony Brown

      I’ve taken a lot of workshops, including Depth. When you miss the point of an assignment, Dean tells you so and doesn’t blunt words. He’s not mean, he just says it like it is. When you understand that about him, the positive comments feel more meaningful, because he doesn’t say “great job” to make you feel good.

      Keeping voices out of your head… I’ve been thinking about this lately. I need a system for when I start the Great Challenge. Maybe toss your comments in a folder, unread, and once every month or so, long after the stories got sent out, I’ll read your comments. I’ve been dealing with critical voice a lot lately. But I’m still writing through it, even if not at the speed I want to be at.