A Year of VSS365


A little over a year ago, my New Year’s resolution was to write more. And in particular, I challenged myself to participate in VSS365 every day in 2018.

The outcome? I did it. 2018 is over (hooray), and I posted a VSS365-tagged tweet each day. Not all of them were good, and I may have cheated a couple times early-on by doubling-up after missing a day, but…

Assuming on average I filled up half a tweet (140 of 280 characters), then for an average word length of 5 characters, I wrote 10,000+ words. While that’s not terribly impressive (only a fraction of what a NaNoWriMo winner writes in a single month), it’s a good start.

What is VSS365?

In the words of (what I believe is) the post that started the contest, VSS365 is “Short stories every day. Actually, Very Short Stories (VSS) every day.”

Each day on Twitter, the contest runner tweets a one-word writing prompt. Participants write a story contained in a tweet (280 characters or less) based on that prompt, tagging their tweet with that word and the #vss365 hashtag.

And that’s it. No contest money. No judging. No prizes. No winners — or if you prefer — all winners.

Why is it helpful?

Do you have trouble starting to write? Starting from a prompt can help, and VSS365 provides a new one-word prompt every day.

Do you have trouble finding time to write? A tweet is 280 characters, tops. When inspiration strikes, you can do thumb-swipe that on your mobile phone in a couple minutes.

On the other hand… is your writing too wordy? Squeezing a story into a tweet is an excellent exercise in brevity. Some days you’ll find yourself juggling letters, rephrasing, rearranging, and *gasp* dropping that Oxford comma to meet that limit.

Or maybe you’re curious about writing. The VSS365 community, and the wider Twitter writing community, is a friendly place to try your hand at writing a tweet a day.

Who is involved?

Every month a new contest-runner starts posting prompts. Anyone is welcome to join, and you’ll find every genre. Sci-fi? Historical fiction? Comedy? Religion? Horror? Erotica? All there.

Where do I find it?

If you’re on Twitter, search for tweets tagged #vss365 to find short stories posted to the contest.

Or, if you want to join in, search for tweets tagged with both #vss365 and #prompt. Sort by “latest” to find the most recent prompt more quickly.

And if you’re not on Twitter, come take a look. The writing community there is quite a supportive and talented bunch.

How did it turn out?

For me? 365 days, 365 tweets. (I think. Twitter’s a little hard to search.) All of them got at least a few likes. A few picked up some retweets.

I experimented a few times with chain stories, taking place over several consecutive days. I even went crazy in October and continued one for about 20 straight days.

Dabbled in poetry a little. A few rhymes. Some haikus.

Found that I tend to favor dad-jokes and puns in my stories.

Even had a few tweets that I decided to expand into longer (short) stories, which are still works-in-progress.

But the biggest win is being exposed to so many other writers, all trying cram a story into a small number of words. I may have ended up following a hundred new people, all based on seeing a clever story or two that I liked.

I’m taking a little break from it in 2019 — not because I’m burned out, but because I want to do other things. But if you’re looking for a writing challenge for the new year, check out #vss365 on Twitter and jump in.

(Seriously, though, don’t drop that Oxford comma.)

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