If I were a short story writer …

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

I’d be done. I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and it’s an intensive activity that engages writers around the world to write the equivalent of a novel, 50,000 words, during the 30 days of November. (That’s 1,667 words a day if you were wondering.) NaNoWriMo has a great website and a supportive community. I encourage anyone who wants to dive into writing to have a go at this annual event. 

This isn’t my first go at NaNoWriMo but I’ve gone further than ever before with more than 12,000 words. I find myself stalled out. I love my story and my characters and the world-building I’ve done. I have completely entertained myself with my story but I’m not sure where to take it next. While I am way short of novel-length territory, but 10,000 words is a legitimate short story, so I’m thinking about claiming victory and imagining the bumper sticker that says, “If you were a short story writer, you would be proclaiming victory.”

Maybe I am and maybe I will. Keep writing, my friends!  

Ready, set, write.

Journal, computer and coffee--all the tools to start writing! Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I have always wanted to be a writer, and I meet a lot of other people who want to be writers. But most people stop before they get going. They give up because the prose doesn’t flow out in the perfect way they imagine in their minds. Or they don’t plan their writing projects and get slammed by fast-approaching deadlines. Sometimes people give up because they get frustrated with their bad results, the editing process, the self-doubt, and sometimes the soul-crushing feedback. Many people don’t realize that many accomplished writers deal with the same frustrations and must face their demons again and again.

Don’t let self-doubt derail your writing aspirations

In a recent interview with Stephen King in the New York Times, David Marchese asked King how he knew whether a piece was working. King, author of 60-plus books and more than 200 short stories replied, “I never did anything that I thought was working. When I get in the middle of something, a part of me is always saying to myself, This is certainly a piece of [expletive].”

It might be a piece of crap or you might think it is, but don’t let that stop you. Realize that the words aren’t going to flow from your pen in perfect form on the page. Writing doesn’t work that way.

Don’t give up your writing dreams!

That’s why I love these Study Hall: Composition videos by ASU with Crash Course hosted by ASU composition student and fellow Sun Devil Yumna Samie.

Study Hall: Composition is a great intro (or refresher) on what works. It helps new writers get started and seasoned writers get back in the game.

I like this seven-video series videos because Yumna is engaging, the videos are short, and the content is actionable. You will learn a repeatable writing process from these videos.

I Googled Yumna to learn more about her because that’s what curious people do 🙂 and I found this short TEDx talk from 2019:

I admire her willingness to retire from being over competitive and her willingness to pursue something that she could not do well–running. It endeared her to me all the more.

So if you have always wanted to write, start here and start today.

Want to know the secret to better writing? It’s more writing!
(And more revising. And more editing.)

Time to start! Or start again. You’ve got this.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Five to Follow

Canada Geese flying in a formation, Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

I am subscribed to an insane number of email newsletters. Some are fantastic, others get the delete key more often than not.

Here are five favorites:

Morning Brew

“Did you read Morning Brew?” is a common question in our house. It’s a great mix of tech news, business news, world news, and the quirky shiitake that I love. I get credit for referrals. I’m hoping to score a coffee mug someday.


This is a new email newsletter from Bill Murphy, Jr., a former Inc. writer that I like. (His story about quitting a job on his first day makes me feel better and normal every time I think of it.)

Zen Habits

I have had more a-ha moments than I can count reading Leo Babauta’s newsletter. And seriously, he has the best email archives EVER. 

Apartment Therapy

I haven’t lived in an apartment for a long while, but there’s a lot to learn here about plants, home care and cleaning, decorating and more. 


Hyperallergic is an art and art news website with an email newsletter. I learned about it following a story about the largest private collection donation of African-American quilts to the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Three thousand quilts! I was trying to picture how the collector stored 3,000 quilts. I told Robert that I couldn’t picture it, but I was willing to give it a try.