For my birthday Sara gifted me a subscription to Storyworth. I’m having a great time using it all wrong.
For a year’s subscription of $99, Storyworth (storyworth.com) sends you questions about your life. You submit your answers, and when the subscription is up they’ll print everything into a book and send it to you. The questions are chosen by the gifter (as Sara did in my case) from a list of several hundred suggested by the site, such as What television programs did you watch as a child? What things are you proudest of in your life? What was one of the best dates you’ve been on? How is your faith different from your parents’ faith? What is one of the strangest things you’ve ever eaten? How has your life turned out differently than you imagined it would? Or the questions can be chosen randomly, or the writer can choose a different question, or either person can write up new questions. Nothing strict about it.
Each week, the next question is emailed to the writer. He or she can submit an answer by email, or use a simple text editor on the Storyworth web site to submit and tweak the answer. I initially had trouble with the submit-by-email feature in that it would join my paragraphs together or split an existing paragraph into new ones seemingly at random; this is anathema to a writer. After a few false starts at understanding the problem, tech support suggested I stick to submitting and editing via the web site, and that’s worked fine for me so far. (I do my writing in a text file on my own computer, and copy/paste it to the site. That way I have my own copies of my answers – just in case.)
There aren’t any options for presentation (there’s a predefined font, and no boldface or italics), but the site seems to do a nice job of formatting the text when I look at one of my answers as a PDF. The nice thing is that it’s completely freeform: I can go back and edit my past answers any time (or even submit answers in the first place if I had skipped any weeks), even past the end of the subscription. After the year is up, whenever I feel satisfied with everything, I can submit the order for my book.
So here’s how I’ve been using it wrong. The site seems like a perfect fit for anyone who’d like to chronicle details about their lives for posterity; it could even be a great tool for someone who’d like to ask these questions of a family member and give them a book of their answers. Neither of these use cases are me, however. I’m an aspiring fantasy writer who has trouble figuring out what to write. And that’s where this service excels; it has a year’s worth of prompts and a soft deadline for each. I’ve been responding to the prompts with a somewhat fictionalized version of my own life, introducing any elements I’d like to work into them while basing them on my own experiences, seeing if there are common threads I can pull through the weeks. It keeps me writing on a regular basis, and it keeps me thinking creatively. It’s a great experience.
Today I need to finish up my fourth answer and go back and figure out how to conclude my second, and then tomorrow comes my fifth question.
I *LOVE* that you are writing again 🙂 and that you have found a way to use this service in the best way possible for you. I can’t wait to read what you’ve written and I hope this unlocks the creativity blocks you feel you have. <3
… and I think I still have the creativity blocks; this just forces me to wrestle with ’em. I’ll probably come out bruised.
Definitely the best and most creative use! I’ve thought the concept was rather cool, especially for those who like to gather family history stuff. I’m liking your use of it even more.
So glad to see you are writing more and it seems like this is creating a much more positive result than what you’ve done in the past.
What a great idea! I am so very, very blocked on my own blagnation. Maybe something like this would work as a prompter for my needs as well.
Give it a try! Even just as an exercise, to get your ideas out on paper. You don’t need to share it with anyone if you’d rather not!