Tuesday, 28 March 2017

NYC Midnight; a journey into the world of short story writing

I was absently scrawling through Facebook the other day, when I saw an advertisement for something called NYC Midnight. I love writing - I write everyday, whether it be note-taking, morning pages, stories and ideas.

NYC Midnight is such a brilliant idea - you enter the competition and there are three rounds. There's a prize for the best story, but I imagine most people aren't motivated by it. They're motivated by the sheer thrill of the process. Every contestant is assigned three prompts - character, subject and genre. Then, they are given a week to write an epic short story of 2000 words.

Untitled, book illustration, 2017 LMC

If you get through to the next round, you are assigned new prompts but are given 72 hours to deliver the goods.

If you get through to the third and final round, you are given new prompts and 48 hours to complete your story.

It's such an interesting process; often when writing, I'll hit a block or hurdle and I'll feel it impossible to overcome it. The NYC Midnight process helps me develop methods of quickly overcoming these blocks. The idea that if you leave it too long, or procrastinate too much you'll miss your deadline works like an energy drink. You have to do it, so you do. It's a similar way I create my illustrations for my clients;  I have a deadline, and I don't miss them. Even if I'm stuck, I just find a path through it, and deliver good work. I just never thought of applying this to my writing in the same way.

The number of people who enter this is insane; rolling through the list of fellow writers (I refuse to call them the competition!) it's pretty obvious why we do it. Not only are the judges highly talented writers themselves, but they give every single contestant feedback, whether you get through to the next rounds or not. It's incredibly useful, nurturing and productive.

There's also something beautiful in knowing that around the world, in all these different countries, people are working on the same thing as you - yes, everyone has different prompts and every story will be delightfully different, but the knowledge that all these people I've never met are pouring their love into their tales is a wonderful thought.

I've just completed the second round, and it was a wild ride! Yes, I got stuck occasionally, and yes I had moments of 'This is crap!' but I kept going, kept honing the words and tweaking the story until I loved it - and that's the point.   I would thoroughly recommend it for next year!

L xxx

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