The Reserve Bucket

and why you should hold on to that lame ass story you wrote

Artwork: Erika Sauter

I don’t want to write a book or a novel. It’s never been my goal. I have the attention span of a bouncy ball, or a drunk person who keeps forgetting they were in search of a public restroom. Sure I can write 50,000 to 80,000 words, just not on the same subject at one time. Maybe at some point I’ll consider publishing a collection of essays, but for now I’ll stick with writing and publishing those essays as standalones.

There are times I’ve fallen short or felt creatively drained when “Fuck it” feels the best route to take. Other times I could write three stories a day, swiftly and with grace, and at times I’m even willing to lose sleep to keep the groove going. I utilized both as the positive and negative they are.

I discovered this thing I’ve come to call my reserve bucket. It’s sort of a never empty bucket of stories and articles. It’s never ending because you regularly take stories out and put stories in.

As writers we’re going to come up with just as many bad ideas as we do good. We’ll write as many shit stories as we do perfect stories. It’s a legitimate part of the writing process. There are aspects and loopholes and all sorts of #lifehappens we weren’t prepared for, but we were prepared to keep our writing career rolling, no matter what, with our reserve bucket.

The definition of a writer is not to just sit down, pump out a story and poof our job is done for the day. That’s not how being a writer works at all, no. Just, no.

In a sense being a writer is similar to a plague. It’s 24/7/365. Generating ideas never stops nor does our power of observation. It’s more like; Dear lord, please let me take this train ride into the city without a single realization that, whoa, I just had an idea! This is the real deal. The reality of writing, writer, write. It’s a process that never ends.

There are three #major #valuable #important reasons why every writer should have a reserve bucket of stories and articles.

You need to be more than a writer

Writing is only a portion of what it means to be a writer, especially if your goal is to have a readership. There are lots of buzz words we hear such as influencer, niche and brand. I don’t know exactly what those words mean. Maybe that’s another story for another day but I will say this; If you’re not everywhere in the digital world chances are neither is your readership.

25% is to be a social media personality.
25% is to be responsive to your readers.
25% is to focus on generating creativity.
25% is actually putting words to paper (a.k.a an electronic device).
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
100% a writer

It’s basic math.

Oh, huge bonus tip! Don’t be the guy who never responds to readers. Total douche move.

There will be days when you’re inundated with the of 75% of the pie and there won’t be enough time to pull the other 25% out of your ass. This is where your reserve bucket comes in.

You’re already prepared. Bam!

Some days suck

Some days I feel like shit #depression. We all have days when we feel shitty, unmotivated, uninterested or our creative spark is dampened like a wet matchstick #writersblock. Success waits for no man #triumph (or something like that).

In other words, consistency, and for emphasis repeated three times. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

There will be days when you produce nothing but you must still be present in the digital world to keep the flow going, even on your regularly scheduled days off. The larger the following, the bigger the audience, the more colossal the readership, the more you should be creating.

There’s a shitload of bullshit content out there that preaches how important it is to be productive and utilize every minute of every day. Here’s my thoughts on these types of content writers:

A. They scheduled that post to go live while they were napping.
B. They are full of shit.
C. They are addicted to meth and/ or crack.

What if you don’t want to utilize every waking moment? What if today blows and you’re just not feeling it? What if you’re trapped on a stranded island or taken hostage by Guerrilla militants? These are all occasions when your reserve bucket will save your ass (well, maybe not the hostage situation).

You never know when that lame ass idea will come in handy

I have an unnecessary amount of genuinely bad stories written. Some are drafts. Some clearly needed to be put aside and returned to later #frustrated. My OneDrive is crammed packed full of #shakeshead that I thought was a good idea at the time. Here’s why the reserve bucket is a super handy writers tool.

A. It will take me a week to clean out my OneDrive as I approach maxing out my 50 GB of space. It’s cool, though. I have the time. I’ll just pull one of those stories out of my reserve bucket.
B. Is that story really as bad as you think it is? I bet with a dash of revision and a bit of polishing you’ve got something good going there. Phew. Thank goodness when you were pissed off and threatening to tear it up and stuff it down the toilet you took a deep breath and put it in the reserve bucket instead.
C. You might write a story on a topic you love but feel no one else would have interest in. I mean, are you truly willing to lose readership over that story you wrote that one time about when you were milking cows? But, what if by some random freak chance that story actually earned you a bit of cash someday? (this last scenario is based of a series of true events #Iowa)

There are websites out there who regularly update writing opportunities where your useless story might potentially turn a profit or worst case earn unexpected promo for your writing career. Or it could be that perfect story you were waiting for the perfect time to publish.

The best part about these two websites I’ve listed is you can sign up for their weekly newsletter so new opportunities will come to you, and while you’re reviewing the newsletter you may think to yourself, Holy crap! I have the perfect story ready to submit kicking around in the bottom of my reserve bucket! Sweet Jesus!

If you don’t have a reserve bucket, this is the moment to make it happen. Right now. Do it. Damn it. Go!

How do you get started? Well, by writing, even the idiotic ideas you come up with and shitty first drafts, too. Then stuff ’em in the bucket. #Moo

Behavioral Science ed/ reporter in Eastern Iowa. Informed and opinionated. My hobbies include petting cats, research and farming.

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