“In the digital age, short writing is king. We need more good short writing — the kind that makes us stop, read, and think — in an accelerating world.” ~ Roy Peter Clark
You’re staring at the blank page.
Ideas float in, float back out, and you find yourself asking, “where do I start?”
The question of where to start on a writing project can get loaded down by the weight of where it will end, and the size of it all can often be the undoing for many writers.
Overwhelm. Distraction. Fear. Doubt. Procrastination. Perfectionism.
Have I left anything out?
For the new writer, and even for those who have been writing for a while, such things can derail a writing project in no time.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the tale of the writer who has been working on their first novel for five, or ten, or fifteen, or more years.
Call it the first-book time warp.
Maybe it’s your story. I know it’s mine.
And the more epic the final product, the worse it can get.
As the experts are quick to tell us, changes in the book publishing industry are just beginning.
Self-publishing is huge and gaining in influence and respectability. Everyone is jumping in.
With the growth of self-publishing in its many forms, changes to the writing landscape are inevitable.
The big ones: volume and speed.
The more you can write and the faster you can write it, the higher the probability that you can make a living with your writing. (Assuming, of course, that you offer quality too.)
In the blogging world, it’s about getting as many posts out there as possible, on your blog and elsewhere.
Likewise if you’re writing books: the more, the better.
It makes a lot of sense. It’s a massive sea of words out there; the more of them that are yours, the more likely it is that readers will find you.
This is where I’ve been struggling.
Those people that make a living with their writing, and even flourish with six figure incomes—they have a lot of material out there, and more all the time.
I look at all of it and I don’t know if I can write more, faster. (Yes, there’s that nasty self-doubt chiming in, again.)
I also wonder, “do I even want to?”
More is not always better. There’s a lot of fluffy filler out there.
Now Add “Short”
“A good short writer must be a disciplined cutter, not just of clutter, but of language that would be useful if she had more space.” ~ Roy Peter Clark
More, faster … and short.
It dawned on me while I was compiling the “Writer’s Liste” post.
Seven of the ten bestselling novels of all time prove the advantage of being a part of something bigger. They were either written as serials to begin with, or they evolved to become a part of a bigger series.
They started small and built big.
Take that thought and consider many of the success stories in the self-publishing world today.
If you look at the self-published authors listed in my recent “Make Money” post, you’ll see it: most of their books are episodic or serialized.
This is the case whether they’re fiction or nonfiction.
And most of them write short.
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that writing short is just about getting more out there, faster. Many short pieces can be just as fluffy as one long piece.
Writing short is an art form.
But, done right, you are getting more quality work out there, faster.
“Where do I start?”
So, we return to the big question for a writer staring at that blank page.
A huge writing project can be daunting for all of the reasons mentioned above.
But what if you break it down and focus on one smaller text at a time. Fine-tune your words in that smaller text and then, when it’s finished, start another piece and do the same.
Now imagine a set of small, focused, fine-tuned pieces coming together in one larger set.
Does that seem a little less daunting?
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” ~ Aristotle
For the sake of your writing craft, your writing mind, your writing life, and your writing business …
Start by writing short, and then see what takes shape.
Have you ever thought of writing short? Do you currently write short? Is there anything you’d like to know about writing short?
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