Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Solitary Pursuit

Writing is an alone experience.

I don't say lonely because, I suppose, some people might be built best for time alone and might never feel a moment of loneliness.

That said, there's no denying that it's a solitary, isolating pursuit.

Novel writing, particularly, tends to isolate. So long between inception and any kind of feedback.

The novel has always been the holy grail to me. Being a writer meant being a novelist.

But in the last couple years, thanks to a friend's influence, I've occasionally written short stories targeted at contests.

The discipline of trying to tell a compelling story in a confined space, and to do it on a deadline, has been very good for me.

I have, for a long time, thought I could write, that I had a decent facility with words on paper. What I lacked was the ability to tell a compelling story (a far more important skill). Chasing the short story contests has helped with that.

The contests have also helped with the isolation. In a relatively short span, you can conceive a story--often based on a promt--complete it, and get some kind of feedback . . . even if it's only that you didn't place.

And, occasionally, you just might perform well enough to get happy feedback. This, too, is a cure for the isolation. And it is wonderful fuel for the long, silent road to a finished novel.

Try it and see if it doesn't make your writing better and make you a happier writer.

In service of this little tid-bit of advice, I'll be posting links to contests now and again.

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