The Daily Story Project

This weekend I was a volunteer at XOXO Festival, a conference put on by the two Andys, MacMillan and Baio, where there were tracks for Story, Social, Games, Film/Animation, and Tabletop. It was wonderful being even a small part of it, and by volunteering I was also able to partake.

I could write so much about the awesome people I met and the presentations I watched, and the creative energy that suffused the entire event start to finish, but that’s for another time. I want to mention one particular speaker, a man who has already been an inspiration for me and whose presentation cemented my admiration for what he’s done.

I’m talking about Jonathan Mann, the Song A Day man. I’ve got several of his songs in my music collection, and I’ve known about him for several years at least, but it took seeing him in person to drive home the point that what he’s doing is the musical equivalent of Neil Gaiman’s writing advice:

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.

Jonathan Mann has written and posted a video of a new song, every day, for 2084 days in a row as of this writing.

When the video of his presentation gets posted I will make sure to share it, but essentially his epiphany boiled down to: he’s happiest when he’s making something, and whether he’s inspired or worn out, he can do this one thing every day. He wrote a song on the day his grandmother passed away, and he wrote a song on the day his son was born, and every other day. Hearing him tell the tale was moving, and beautiful, and I do it a great disservice by my thin description.

But a more fitting tribute, I think, is the idea I had while listening to him. I can do that. Well, I’m not a musician, but I am a writer. I could write a story every day, and post it. How long could I do that? Could I reach 10 in a row? 100? 1000? More?

Jonathan Mann shares his pie chart of creativity.

He suggested that, in his experience, the total output of a creative person would be approximately 70% stuff that’s just OK, 20% that’s bad, and 10% that’s actually good. So the way to increase the amount of good stuff, you have to create more stuff in total.

Sitting there in that converted factory space, along with 800+ other creative people, listening to someone I’ve known and admired convert himself with his words into one of my heroes, I resolved to start my Daily Story Project. And it starts today. Here’s the rules, simple though they may be:

  • I post one story, here, every day.
  • That story can be of any length.
  • It can be fictional or not.
  • It might be bad, good, or somewhere in between.
  • Each story might, or might not, connect with any other stories. Who knows, man?
  • I see how many in a row I can do until I can’t do any more.

That’s it. Longer stories may be broken up over several days, or I may just hide it under a break. As much as I want to aim for at least one story written a day, I may find myself inspired enough to write several, and I’ll schedule them ahead. But, honestly, I really hope I can write one a day.

These won’t be diary entries, or “just type for 20 minutes and call it good,” though. These will be stories, with a beginning, middle, and an end. Maybe vignettes or scenes, but hopefully ones that stand alone and make a point.

Check back here tomorrow for the first Daily Story.

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