This afternoon I participated in a 24 hour short story writing contest sponsored by www.writersweekly.com (I think they have these contests twice a year.) As far as writing marathons go, this was much, much simpler than November Is National Novel Writing Month, although I suppose I shouldn't even compare the two--this contest was more like a 50 yard dash than a marathon (it took me about 2 hours rather than 30 entire days!) The hosts email all participants with the topic and word limit the day of the contest so people can't cheat and write their stories ahead of time. This time, the story (950 words or less) had to somehow address a situation where a woman is watching tv during a blizzard and then someone who had died 10 years before appears on the screen. I wasn't quite sure what to do with that, and ended up writing a weird little tale about a woman dying of hypothermia and hallucinating about her dead husband. It sounds pretty grim, but it was a lot of fun to write (I should mention that the woman, much to her dismay, winds up getting saved in the end. I couldn't quite bring myself to kill her off. One of my downfalls as a writer--I tend to be too nice to my characters; it's hard for me to let them suffer in peace. I'm getting better at it, but it's not easy).
It was an enjoyable writing day; I love contests/themed journals like this one where they give you certain hoops to jump through. It's nice to have a trigger, to see what emerges from it. I love it best when an idea for a story strikes me like lightning, out of the blue, but I really appreciate prompts, too. It's a cool way to get the juices flowing.