1500 or less . . .
This past week I entered a short story writing competition! Yay! Go Court go! The story had to be 1500 words or less. And there were a few challenges I hadn’t expected.
My story started with too many resolutions, too many characters, and not enough conflict. And lets not talk about the conundrum I had deciding between 1st and 3rd person, and past and present tense for the narration. I had to go on a trip back to middle school grammar rules. So between reading articles regarding plot charts, characters, short story techniques and listening to a few short stories, the 1500 words were costing more in effort than I initially thought. Should I have been surprised?
At first, I thought 1500 words, will I be able to fill that? And quite quickly I loathed it for the opposite, 1500 words weren’t enough. Not enough ______ or too much ______ are wonderful excuses and/or fears that can aid in delay.
“You lack nothing. Use what I gave you.” – God (meme of Instagram)
I started brainstorming on this story at the beginning of October, the deadline was Tuesday, November 15th at 11:59pm EST. I finished and submitted on Nov. 15th at 10:30pm EST. I felt exhilarated and relieved that I had followed through and made the deadline, but unsatisfied with the story itself. I’m not 100% confident that the story will win, that’s not me being negative, it’s me being realistic in evaluating my work. If it wins great, and of course I hope it does! If it doesn’t, I’m still proud of the new risk taken, and what I learned.
- I procrastinated when I encountered challenges, by taking a long time to think about the problems versus being active towards solving the problem. 1st or 3rd person for example, I made more headway by just writing and getting the story out, then going back to edit, versus trying to decide, then write in hopes of cutting down the need for edits. Make smart mistakes.
- Procrastinating provides false protection from failure and actually aids in failure.
- If you don’t do well, you can blame it on the time & effort you didn’t give to this/that
- If you do well, “oh wow, I did great, and could’ve done even better.” But will you do better, considering the minimum effort got you some success.
- Stunts your growth
- If you work diligently and give your all, and don’t succeed, win, or reach the goal . . . then what?
- You learn valuable information on how to get better and you can try again.
- Competition motivates me.
- Competition can not be my main motivator. The exploration and discovery of the work itself needs to be the goal. Winning (growth) doesn’t happen without practice. If I only write stories when competitions are available, then my growth is determined by an outside factor and by how many competitions I enter.
- Limits can help me focus and simplify, get rid of the fluff/waste. I went from approximately 2200 words to 1496, and the story was still communicated and more effective.
- Anything worth having or doing requires effort and work, and how much can not be determined by past expectations set by any institution (school/work, etc.) or person (teacher/parent). Each job has it’s own requirements, it’s best to go forward prepared to give more than what you think it’ll take, and know that the work is good for you.
“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4
“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” – Proverbs 14:23
“Evil comes from the abuse of free will.” – C.S. Lewis
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” – Proverbs 13:4
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, . . .” – Luke 12:35
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” – John 9:4
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-8
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, . . .” – Colossians 3:23
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24