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.

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Word Choice Word Cloud

Do you ever feel as though you keep reusing the same words in your writing? Whenever I notice this in my own writing, it annoys me. (I used the word “conflagration” in two consecutive sentences? Argh!)

Out of curiosity, I decided to generate a word cloud from all of the stories I’ve posted this year. Using this word cloud generator, I came up with the cloud shown below.wordcloud

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My Flash Failures

As the last Friday of 2014 passed, I found myself looking back on a year of Flash! Friday writing. Over the past year, I’ve read countless1 wonderful works of short fiction by some brilliant flash authors.

I also participated in the contest myself most weeks, writing forty-three2 stories for the contest, and even participating a few times as a judge3.

A few stories I wrote for Flash! Friday this year I’m quite happy with, including (shameless plug) winning entries The Sands of Space and Time, L’Enfer, C’est La Guerre, and Terminal.

But every failure is a lesson, and many of the stories I wrote fell disappointingly flat. So here I go, taking a look at a handful of my many, many lackluster entries for Flash! Friday this past year4.

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Once again, November is almost upon us, and with it comes National Novel Writing Month. For thirty days in November, anyone and his cousin Rory can be a novelist. How does it work? Easy! Just start banging on a keyboard after midnight on November 1st, and keep typing until you reach 50,000 bananas — er — words.

For this year’s NaNoWriMo, rather than start on a new project, I’ve decided to work on a second draft of last year’s so-called novel. Why? Even though it kinda violates the guidelines of the competition, at heart I think the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to bring people together and provide encouragement.

Some people need the extra encouragement to get started. (I know I needed the encouragement that first year.) Nowadays, though, I find it easy to start a new writing project — but much more difficult to finish it.

So this year, why not use the opportunity to try to finish something that I’ve started? It may not quite follow the rules, but I still think it fits the spirit of the competition.

Is anyone else using NaNoWriMo to rewrite a novel you previously worked on? I’d like to hear about it.


In order to spiff up FTL Pizza just a tad, I’m in the process of adding some nice colorful artwork. (Ok, some of it is tacky, and some of it is black-and-white.)

The stories I’ve written for Flash Friday now include the original image prompts for each week.

For the other stories, I’ve put together some “artwork” using public domain (CC0) images that I’ve found online. I’m no artist (I can’t even find my old Photoshop install CD — all of these images were edited in Paint.NET), but hopefully the new images add a splash of color to the site.

(Incidentally, I found public domain images off of Wikipedia’s public domain image resources page. Most of the images I found were off of Pixabay, one of the sites I found off of that list.)

Novel 0.1 — Why Can’t I Finish?

When I first found NaNoWriMo back in 2004, I thought it was an interesting idea. Getting started is the hardest part of most projects, so, for anyone who keeps thinking about writing a novel someday, make that someday the month of November.

NaNoWriMo is an exercise in collective human suffering. For thirty days of November, just sit down and write. Write at least 50,000 words to finish a first draft. Suffer along with countless other would-be novelists. Share your writers block woes, listen to the sorrows of others, and benefit from the encouragement of the group.

In 2004 I easily met the 50,000 word goal. “This is great,” I thought, but I never finished that novel. Nor did I finish one the next year, or the year after. In fact, every subsequent year, I failed to even come close to the 50,000 word goal.

Skip ahead to 2013. For the first time in almost a decade, I sat down during the month of November and wrote. By November 30th, I had a grand total of 50,138 words, putting me just past the goal. A winner again, right?
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