Most writers are not one trick ponies. Think Zadie Smith. As well as best-selling novels, she writes newspaper columns, lectures, short stories and essays. Even for writing super stars, variety is a financial necessity, but for those who are not, it can still have a positive effect on your writing skills.
Short stories, poems or flash fiction can give you a break from getting bogged down in longer projects and can also give your confidence a boost. Think of it like your diet. It can be great to work on creating the perfect spaghetti bolognese, but you don’t want to cook it every night.
In order to develop your writing, say yes more. Say yes to new projects, different ideas and watch your writing diet improve. Joining a writing group, course or following industry newsletters and writing prompts can get many projects started. Hopefully, these mini-projects will grow into bigger ones, or at least add some new techniques to your writer’s toolkit.
I am currently involved in studying flash fiction, writing a novella in flash, submitting short stories, building story collections, working with forthcoming anthologies, polishing a novel, participating in an online writing group, creative writing teaching, and running a monthly short story book club. Yes, there’s a lot of information to take on board with new formats, but most of my writing tasks compliment and help with the others.
While I am still exploring my writing options, I believe I’ll keep up the variety for years to come. It has such a strong effect my understanding of storytelling, as well as improving technical ability. Of course, by writing in many forms, you also read many forms, which is great for generating ideas and gaining insight into others’ work.
Though I am missing travelling and lacking new experiences, 2020 has provided me with the support of my family and the stability of being back in the UK. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to explore my writing while working from home. In the coming months, I have two published stories to look forward to – one in The Lit Quarterly and the other in SciFi Lampoon. My work will also be featured in an anthology about migration called Vigorous Roots (Ooglian Press).
Another reason to celebrate came in August, when a piece of mine published in FlashBack Fiction was selected as one of the 50 best British and Irish fictions by TSS publishing. I am in great company on the list and am thrilled with the accolade.
While I hope to get back on the road in October, I am filling the time by writing about . . . time. I hope to complete my novella in flash on the topic by the end of the year and will keep you all updated with my progress.
All this activity has kept me motivated and moving forward with my writing, so I recommend it to any aspiring writers out there. Don’t get bogged down in any one project. Stick your fingers in a few pies and eventually you will taste success.