As I thought about the topic, so many ideas flooded my mind. Would I write about the over 90 anthologies I’m published in? What about the 9 books I wrote? Maybe the two others that are waiting for release now? Or, do I look into the future and talk about the books I’m planning on writing within the next year?
All seemed like acceptable topics, but they seemed to only benefit me and not the writing community, as the focus should be. So, I searched deeper and remembered back to a couple of years ago when I took on the challenge to write one short story per week for an entire year. I've actually spoken to a few people, here and there, about this when they ask me how I happen to think of ideas for my work and never run out of ways to tell a story. Many respond with something along the line of whether I am insane or not. Maybe I am, but that was actually quite a fun year of writing.
The challenge of writing 52 stories in one year came about form a Facebook page I was invited to. I was still trying to figure out who I was as a writer at the time and thought the exercise would be the perfect opportunity to search deep inside my imagination. Within the first couple of weeks, the challenge was rather easy. I had some open call anthologies that I wanted to write for and took the time to focus on horror as the theme. Each of those stories were published and I was instantly excited to write more. Some of the weeks I wrote poems, rather than short stories. A couple of weeks I wrote what I can only describe as complete trash, yet I chose to keep them because the ideas were pretty solid despite the horrific execution. In all, I think about twenty of the pieces I wrote were actually published.
For me, the experiment was a huge success because I found out who I am as a writer. I discovered that I am not one that can be defined by a single genre, but instead choose to write what I feel. I don’t write for the sole purpose to please others, but instead write to please myself. If others choose to read what I write and enjoy the story I provide, then that is a bonus that I never force myself to expect. As a result, I've written many horror pieces, but also two children’s books, Sci-Fi, Thrillers, and more.
As I stated at the beginning, this post isn't about my writing, though, but instead about those that want to know more about writing and how to find out who they are as a writer. To that I say, don’t define yourself in any genre. Instead, let your writing define you. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Instead, run head first into the unknown. Take the challenge, write something every week for an entire year, don’t focus on whether it is good, just focus on the idea. You can always revisit the piece at a later time. Some of it will be great. Most might be embarrassingly bad. But, who cares? This is about you. This is about finding your way. This is about expanding your experience and discovering what works and what doesn't.
Over the course of the next 52 weeks, you’ll find yourself frustrated, overwhelmed, and thinking of quitting. But, when you get that one story that clicks, you’ll also feel inspired and ready to move forward. Then, if you really focus, you’ll find yourself within your writing.