How short is too short?

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!

― Audrey Hepburn

On the heels of the close of National Novel Writing Month I have to ask the question, how short is too short?

It may be that you simply don’t have a lot to say, or that words fail you at any given moment.  Notice I never mentioned the dreaded writers block, mostly because I don’t believe in it.

Can you Google fiction of less than fifty thousand words?  You’ll find it’s a pretty impressive list.  And I’ll even bet you’ve probably read the top ten, or most of the top ten.  I know you’ve heard of the titles on the list.

But the question here is the value of writing short.

Because, after all, this is a blog about writing; something most of us do every day.  So here are a few questions you might want to consider even if you’re taking a much deserved break after NaNo.

  • Do you write every day?
  • Do you set an individual goal?
  • Do you go by word count, page count or time in the chair?
  • Do you write down your goals?
  • Do you reward yourself when you meet your goals?
  • Or do you simply beat yourself up when the goal is not met?

Statistically we do better when we can see our goals in writing.  Write down what you want to accomplish and you are one step closer to meeting your goal.

This season of the year as we spend time with friends and family we look forward to the next big thing. With the approach of the New Year, many of us will think about resolutions.  Making ourselves better people in the coming year.  It’s kind of like a fresh start.

There are people around who want to help you and you can easily find them for free or at a very reasonable cost online.

Try Rose Writes Fifty Books, or Candace Havens Online Writers Workshops if you’re  looking for a leg up in the writing world.  These ladies believe in paying it forward.

And they will never abuse you for writing short.  Writing short is still writing, something writers do every day.

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Using your gifts

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

― Albert Einstein

Just how much of our brain do you think we use every day? Some people would tell you they use it all, while others might say that it’s never enough. The real problem for most writers is the inability to turn off portions of our brains, even selectively.

For many, the ability to “turn on the auto pilot” is the appeal of a thing like National Novel Writing Month.

Can you accomplish more if you just put your head down, tuck your elbows to your sides, and keep typing?  I bet you can, and  Chris Baty believes that too.  In fact, the belief is one of the reasons NaNoWriMo survives today.

So tell me, did you win?

If yes, good for you!

If no, then don’t sweat it.  Lot’s of people drop out.  Every one who takes up the gauntlet discovers something about themselves, and sometimes the thing you discover is . . .are you ready for this?  You don’t really want to write a novel after all.

That’s Okay.  You don’t have to do it.  No one does.  Writing is a choice.  Many choose never to return to the keyboard in an attempt at fiction, but some of us learn different things.

Like, let’s say, you don’t have a plot.  There’s no problem during the first draft, that plot thingy is fixable.  Eventually you will need a plot, hopefully a trim, tight little plot that delivers a great story.

But at the beginning?  Nope, you don’t need it.  Just keep writing.

In fact, in case you missed it, that’s the secret to success at NaNoWriMo.

Just keep writing.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before and I will credit Nora Roberts with the saying, I’ve heard her say it often enough;  you cannot fix a blank page, but you can fix a bad one.

So really people, this is like getting the meaning of life, just keep writing.

Don’t make me resort to the story about the monkeys, the typewriters and the Bible.  Please, don’t.

And keep you minds and your eyes open, for this Holiday Season, my blogmates are threatening our readers with more short stories.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Just member, I write horror stories, so what was Santa doing in the chimney, anyway?

Limitations

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

― George Bernard Shaw

Are we the victim or the master of our limitations?

As NANO draws to a close, I wonder if the month of November in retrospect will be viewed as a boon or a trial.  I know hundreds of thousands of us each year, succumb to the lure of the fantasy that we can win, we can finish the “sleeper” novel, the one that will put us on the Times list, the breakout novel of our lives—if we just finish the damn thing.
Isn’t that what NANO is really about?  Finishing the damn novel?

It’s true, writing is a struggle and a joy and our life’s dream, but if we tell the truth, most of us would rather ‘have written’ than aspire to be writers.

I do involve myself every year in the NANO frenzy.  I always go in with hopes high, expectations realistic, high energy, and a modicum of healthy skepticism.  I know I can write every day, or almost every day.  I do that in my real life.  In spite of keeping a full-time job and a family.  And my family is a keeper.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if I suffer from delusions of adequacy?

When does the day come when we accept the mediocrity of the first draft, the need for additional revision and the willingness to let go of the silly thing after the fourth or fifth or even the eleventh revision?  When is the novel done?  Is it when you know in your heart you simply can’t do any better than this?  Or is it when you’re just to exhausted to revise one more time?

Is the novel complete when you choose to abandon it?  Or is it done when you file it under the bed?  We all know if you do sell it, it’s not done, it will need more revision.

So is this all there is to the writing life?

Limitations

“There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.”

– Ronald Reagan

It’s true, as writers we believe we are limited only by our imaginations, and as writers those limitations simply do not exist.

Don’t believe it?  Check out the number of genres in fiction.

Futuristic, Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Women’s Fiction, Regency, Historical, Medieval, and the cross genres too numerous to mention here.

Even contemporary writing features a host of subdivisions which entice so many readers, even in a shrinking market for print publication fighting hard against epublishing, romance still dominates the market.

And do you know why that is?  Because everyone out there who reads a book—-any book –is looking for the validation that good triumphs over evil and the good guys will always overcome the odds against them and there really is a happily ever after.

Need I say more?

Apparently I do need to point out that many writers claim they suffer from “writers block”, which is a purely imaginary disease, (*Please note dis-ease) brought on by self-doubt inspired by outsiders who feel the need to criticize, demean, belittle or embarrass us into believing we cannot entertain others with the fruit of our imaginations.

I believe we empower others to disable us with that criticism and therefore there is no writers block.

After all, if you choose to believe the few who jealousy do not support your creative endeavors, maybe you should give up writing.  The road to publication is long and often tiresome and does require the development of a thick skin.

Most of us however, learn from our mistakes, and do acquire encouraging mentors and helpful constructive critics who assist us in our growth and allow and encourage us to improve on the talent we have.

What is important to remember here is limitations are self-imposed.  So if your story is too fantastical and no one would ever believe it, show me how it’s done and lift the curtain of disbelief.  Then you’re a writer.

Or maybe you are the type of person who aspires to be an author, and not a writer?

What’s the difference?

The difference friends, is writers write every day.  They writer above, around and thorough the criticism of their writing not being good enough, not publishable, and no one really wants to see that kind of story.  It’s too tired, too overdone, or the readers are too jaded to believe those of us with imagination can bring the “same old story” to life.

People, insert writers, do it every day.  Have you heard, or read the one about there are only 20 plots?  Anyone?

Whereas authors, if this is what you aspire to be, spend their time at book signings, book fairs, on promotional tours, and wondering when the hell they’re gonna find the time to write the damn book, because they were writers to start with, and really, that’s what they want to do, write you a story.

The inference here is, don’t bemoan who you are or where you are at this moment.  You are exactly where you’re supposed to be, so just sit down and write the story.  And if you need company, support encouragement or whatnot, join us for NANO.

Why?  Because writers write, and we’re all really writers, even the authors among us.

Happy writing!