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I wish to write short stories based on the experiences I have from my life.

Also, I love writing inspirational stories. But somehow, when I start to write them, I could not focus on the subject; also I fail to maintain a seamless flow.

I have been trying this for more than half a year, but could not do it.

Please help me or else guide me.

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    Hi, and welcome to Writers. What do you mean by "you can't focus on the subject"? what happens? Are you distracted? blocked? Start writing about something else? – Lauren Ipsum Feb 4 '16 at 13:50
  • Oddly, pleases first see that you wish to write short stories. If it maters whether they’re based on life experiences or pure fiction, please explain how. Similarly, how could “inspirational” stories change your writing method? No-one cares about flow, seamless or otherwise; please, vitally, explain how you could not focus on the subject? What happened when you tried? How did your attention drift? – Robbie Goodwin May 6 '18 at 17:06
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Easy question. When you start to write them, do not focus on the subject, do not attempt to maintain a seamless flow. Just write them out. What's coming out it a compilation of all the things you consciously or unconsciously put aside as worthy of thought and retelling. However, this is just your raw material.

Then, with the benefit of a daily writing schedule, go and pick through your raw material. Find a piece that evokes a feeling of potential. Now rewrite that piece, expand on its incompleteness. Gain insight into the conflicts and emotions it raises. Amplify those until you've got a whole story. It's still a rough draft, but it is somewhat whole. You might feel excitement or disappointment: Don't worry about either feeling. Put it away for a week or so while you work on something else.

Now, go back to the rough draft. Don't edit it. Just reread it. Open a new file, on new paper, start rewriting the story. You'll find that you're moving elements around, adding new elements, and tossing out others. Finish this story. Spend some time editing/revising it. You've got a finished story. Put it away.

Come back to it one month later. If you see a way to make it better, have another go. If you don't, it's really finished, and ready to share with others.

Start with this approach, but figure out what works for you. There are no good first drafts, there are only good revisions.

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Note: Written in response to How do I start writing? which was closed as a duplicate of this. Not a question about short stories specifically, but hopefully it will help.

Everyone has different methods for starting, but I’m happy to share mine if it helps.

I’m a plotter. I wrote my first book by ‘pantsing’ (to write without a plan off the seat of your pants) but because the story changed through the life of the novel, those changes rippled all the way back to the beginning and I ended up rewriting the beginning maybe twenty times. It took three years and felt like such a waste of time. So, my second and third novel I have plotted. The story still changes, but much less than just making it up as I go. My second novel took ten weeks to draft by comparison.

So, the first thing I do is pre-writing. I use Scapple and Scrivener. Scapple to plot and Scrivener to write and I find both exceptional tools. I gather photos of what my characters look like, and photos of people I’d like to base them on (I usually composite my characters from people I know well) until these people inhabit my mind on a daily basis. I visit settings (where possible) and take photos and notes. I do lots of research and keep notes. I imagine scenes that I really want in the book and start writing snippets of dialogue. And then I put this whole lot into Scapple. From there, I do a rough outline of the plot.

The next part is by far the hardest for me: starting the book.

I procrastinate for at least two weeks. I sit at my screen, staring at the blank page and check Facebook, Gmail and answer questions on here. Then I chastise myself … A LOT. Every day I try to spend less time procrastinating and at least try to write something, even if it’s just a line or two. And then I chastise myself for only writing a line or two. After beating myself up for a couple of weeks, I find I’m spending less time procrastinating and more time writing.

As @SimonWhite points out, the secret is to write every day, even the weekends, even if it’s just a few hundred words. The reason is that writing a muscle that atrophies without use. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to use. Annie Dillard expresses it perfectly when she says:

A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, "Simba!” ― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Start with a few lines of dialogue. A short scene. Write something in the middle. Write a scene that’s already clear in your head and is going to be easy. Make starting as easy as you can for yourself and start with small goals. And write every day, Even if it’s awful.

Anne Lammott (Word by Word and Bird by Bird are wonderful) says:

Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. People tend to look at successful writers, writers who are getting their books published and maybe even doing well financially, and think that they sit down at their desks every morning feeling like a million dollars, feeling great about who they are and how much talent they have and what a great story they have to tell; that they take in a few deep breaths, push back their sleeves, roll their necks a few times to get all the cricks out, and dive in, typing fully formed passages as fast as a court reporter. But this is just the fantasy of the uninitiated.

I also find word counts a huge help and Scrivener handles those brilliantly. I don’t allow myself to get up from my desk until that word count is completed. Without word counts, I wouldn’t have a hope of finishing. So, set yourself a really small word count per day, like 300 words, and write them every day, even if it’s 300 words of rubbish. This is how I start.

Good luck!

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You don’t have to write in a seamless flow. You don’t even have to write a first draft that flows seamlessly. It may take a number of rewrites before you have a story you are happy with.

Also, you can’t necessarily sit down and write for 4 hours or 8 hours if you haven’t already been doing that regularly. Writing works the same as any other exercise: you have to do a little each day and build up to where you can do as much as you want to. Try and write for 5 minutes a day. Then next week, try to write for 10 minutes per day, and the week after, for 15 minutes per day, and so on until you are writing for 4 hours a day or however long you would like to write. As you go, your body will adapt and you’ll get better at it. Same as lifting weights or doing yoga. It takes some time to adjust.

A really good tip is to read as many short stories as you can. The length of stories, the way they begin-middle-end, the tone and voice they use, and other characteristics will rub off on you and inform your writing. If you are writing short stories, there is nothing better than to be a student of short stories, to really dive into the form and experience as many examples of it as you can.

One of my favorite writing tips comes from Kurt Vonnegut: “start as close to the end as you can.” That is even more important in short stories than in novels. A great short story is not the same story from a novel just shrunken down — it is just the end of the novel. A novel is like meat and potatoes and rice and salad, but a short story is just the meat. You get right to it.

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