Ten days in… short stories.

It’s ten days into the New Year and already I’m flagging! I became a little addicted to a weekly writing competition, run by WriteInvite, where you have to write a short story in twenty minutes online. It’s held at 5.30 on a Saturday teatime, which is in itself a challenge to me.
This week, amongst the kebabs and salad preparations in the kitchen, I felt like I did before I took my school exams, butterflies and perspiration. I sat down, at teatime, complete with apron and oven timer (set to twenty minutes) and checked out the three themes, chose one and set off.
It turns out that I can write about five-hundred words in twenty minutes. It turns out I can write a decent short story under pressure. It turns out I am very pleased with myself, because I came second and third with my first two entries.
Enough of my showing off, the real lasting benefit of this writing exercise is the kickstarting of the creative process. One of the most difficult aspects of writing is thinking of suitable plots and characters. This way, the seed of a story is on the page in twenty minutes. Both the short pieces I’ve written for the contest hold the promise of a full story, ripe for expansion into something fuller.
For the first time in years I’m keen to write short stories again, and with lots of short story competitions to go, I’ll be busy for a couple of weeks. 
I’ve also been doing the 100k in 100 days. From now until April I will be joining other writers and completing at least 1000 words every day for 100 days. So far I’ve managed to keep up, but I’m at the 10k point in my novel, the point where I always review whether there is enough story for another 80k words. This isn’t a quick review, as I need to take a few days to let the concepts arising for the first three chapters to flow together and to plan the rest of it. So, while I gestate ideas, I’ll be developing the shorts.
This novel is like nothing I have written before and it’s proving to be and enjoyable challenge.
A great start to the new writing year.