3 Things I Learned from the Writing Challenge

Sorry folks for the lack of blogging! I had joined a writing competition!  It poppped up on my social feed, and since my highest rankinging growth goal is to be a better writer, I jumped on this one.  Its called the 11th Annual Short Story Challenge .  Here’s how they describe it : 

“A creative writing competition open to writers around the world.  There are 3 rounds of competition.  In the 1st Round (January 20-28, 2017), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment.  Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.  The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (March 23-26, 2017) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.  Judges choose finalists from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 1,500 word (maximum) story in just 24 hours (May 5-6, 2017). ” 

It sounded thrilling to me so I plunked down the $55 bucks and went for it.  Fortunately, with just a few hours to go I completed the 2499 word short story, Grembus Awake ( wait for the best seller in a store near you!) .

What have  I learned that would be relevent to the HappyWisdom world?

1. Deadlines Work – Deadlines are an incredibly focusing tool.  Couple this with an innate fear of embarrassment, and I was SUPER motivated to do good work. I was focused on the task, and let other things go by the wayside.  It’s akin to the Laura Vanderkam‘s concept of the broken water heater.  She tells a story in her TED talk of a lady who had a broken water heater disaster.  The flooding, the lack of hot water, etc.  It took that woman 7 hours to resolve the issue ( which I thought was rather quick).  But this lady was a super busy person. If you asked her in the beginning of the week – do you have seven extra hours this week, she’d laugh in your face.  The point is – its not about time management, but about priority management.  Find your water heater (there will be a sparc on this soon), but its better if its a simulated emergency, not a real one, like this one. (What’s the deal with the submerged power cord??)




2. You Need People – I finished my story a couple of days early, which attests to the power of the Water Heater concept.  Well, as I proudly deposited my draft to my editor/wife, I expected the traditional edit – commas ( which I love) and other mistakes I have not unlearned yet.  What I got was “this doesn’t make sense” and other head-scratching from my wife that I didn’t expect.  What happened was that I had to chop down my story from about 4000 words to the 2500.  Well, most of it was in my head, and since it wasn’t on the page, my lovely editor didn’t see it.  Writing needs people.  I couldn’t see what was missing because most of it was in my head. Only when I got it out there, and shared it, was I able to get the truth. Ultimately I made the changes and it was fine, and thanked my beautiful editor profusely.

Ball, Physics, Swing, Spherical Ball Joint, Pendulum

3. Accomplishment Feeds the Soul, and fuels more accomplishment  –  After completing the task, and feeling pretty good about the story, I felt so energized I was able to roll right into a faucet change. That’s right, home improvement.  Also a goal on my list, but much lower than writing, I thought I’d install this kitchen faucet that I purchased like 4 months ago before the existing one blew up and destroyed my kitchen.  I am, dear reader, not a home improvement guru.  Nope, not me.  But this went smoothly with only two trips to Loews involved.  I felt relaxed and calm and was able to focus very nicely on the radically different task.  My learning and tip is to try coupling different tasks together.  Writing is a stationary task that relies on sitting and typing, while doing the faucet is moving, driving, buying , watching YouTube videos and praying.  One is cerebral, the other, physical.  I find coupling these two tasks used different energies, and thus, I was able to have enough energy to complete the task with little negative stress going on.


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