Wait — Don’t Write that First Novel Before You Try a Short Story
How to get started as a new writer without committing to a full novel yet
Maybe you don’t have the attention span. Maybe your time is so limited a full novel will take you years to complete. Maybe you want to write, but you’ve never dipped your toe in fiction. Maybe you don’t have a comfortable-enough chair to sit for six hours a day.
Whatever the reason, my friend, there’s still hope for you.
Instead of going face-first into a novel, there’s a better choice for cutting your fiction-bearing teeth. Novels are cool and all. You’ll probably want to write one eventually, but for now we’ll refer to Ray Bradbury for this advice.
Bradbury said no one can write fifty-two bad short stories in a row.
This is exactly what you’re going to do — write a short story a week. You don’t have to stop at fifty-two either, but we’ll start with that. We don’t become better writers without the writing part. Shorts are great, because there are so few rules. There are few expectations. And you can finish them in one sitting.
You don’t need to stick with a genre. No one has to read them. And they accumulate fast.
There’s also a bonus with shorts: If you write a handful of good ones you can use them as an opt-in offer for your reader’s list (please don’t call it a newsletter).
Short stories aren’t easier to write. No story is easy to write. But they’re faster to get wrong than a novel is. You’ll spend less time screwing up and more time learning. If you screw up a novel you end up with a single, screwed-up novel. If you screw-up a bunch of shorts, well, you’ve got a nice little library to learn from.
Short stories help us fail faster. And writing well is all about failing fast.
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