Here’s the deal: I’ve been busy of late.
19.5 credits of an engineering course load do that to a person. Therefore, I haven’t had much time for writing. It’s a big reason why I’m pulling back from this blog a bit, and only writing posts I mean.
When I’m busy, I don’t have time to write anything. Novels, blog posts, anything. It’s been a dry spell for about two months.
Sure, I’ve written a few things, but I’ve certainly not written enough for the creative part of me to be content. I’ve been filling it with theatre-related art and creativity, but the part of me that desires to write and tell stories has been slowly shriveling up.
I’ve got a prune for a writer’s heart, right now.
Everyone has these times. Everyone has a phase in their life where their creative spark turns into a prune. It’s not something to panic about or worry over, but it is something you have to overcome.
Today, I’d like to offer a potential solution, a simple and easy way to water that prune and let it flesh back out into a full emotive spark: the short story.
When you’re not feeling creative, it’s hard to dig into a full-blown novel. It’s hard to be… well… creative.
So when you’re feeling prune-ish, don’t expect yourself to be able to handle one of the most difficult tasks of the mind right off the instance. Creativity is a muscle. It’s only as strong as the application you give it and the consistency with which you use it. When you’ve had a long break from working out, you don’t go and lift the heaviest weights you can: you start out smaller, lighter, easier.
Then you work your way back up to where you were before, and then continue to lift heavier and heavier weights.
So it is with creativity.
While writing short stories can’t be said to be easy, it is easier. It takes less effort to come up with a storyline and characters for a short story than it is to come up with, fall into, and keep with characters, plots, and themes for an entire novel.
In short, writing short stories builds confidence and awakens your creative muscles.
Novels take a long time to write. It takes most writers months or even years to finish a rough draft manuscript (especially when the plot is complicated and when the book itself is going to be long). That’s a long time for the final payoff. Delayed gratification is good, yes, but when you’re a prune it’s hard to be patient.
Short stories, on the other hand, can be written in a day or two. You can write flash fiction in two minutes. These shorter time spans allow you to create art and prove to yourself that art is worth creating.
Short stories create immediate results, which can inspire more creativity for the long-run.
Of course, it’s hard to stay writing short stories for very long. I’ve never been able to write more than two short stories before being drawn in by some other longer project. And that’s okay.
Short stories aren’t meant to be dwelt on. If you end up publishing or sharing your short story, people aren’t going to devote hours to reading it. They’ll spend time reading it, then move on.
They’re not an investment. They’re a brief moment of escape into a world of “what-ifs”. They’re a chance to really pursue what it means to be a writer. Through these short stories, you don’t have to be a prune anymore.
Take a drink. Write a story.
Fill yourself with creative inspiration and exercise your creative muscles.
Then move forward.