I may share a name with our dear cabin girl, but I don't share her problem. Mine is that I have written very little in the past five months... or more like a year. Ever since last spring break, when I started to home educate my family.
Since that time, I get up every morning, stretch, and feel a slight creak. It's the rust. It creeps and spreads, chewing, gnawing, eating away at my writing implements. Ruining them! So when I finally get a free hour to write, I sit down and start oiling my tools with a little writing exercise, or I look over a tangle of partials, or write a (blog post), and before the tin man has said nary a word, something interrupts and the moment is gone.
And every day, it's a little bit worse.
Do you go through periods like this? Does the feeling resonate with you?
Well, I have found a satisfying way to keep my arsenal shiny and oiled: SHORT STORIES.
Yep. Now, I know short stories are not the enticing vixens that novels are. I have shied away from them in the past... it can be hard, particularly, to write a short story with a sci-fi/fantasy bend because you don't have much time for world creation. But short stories are great for exploring characters and situations. They give you a chance to create a satisfying arc, a cycle with a beginning and an end, something with emotional kick. All in just an hour or two!
Some of my shorts have been totally new ideas, a chance to test drive (before laying out 50k and finding out it stinks). Some have been shorts of longer partials I have laying around. Or self-contained scenes that don't fit in the main storyline. A short is a fantastic way of spotlighting a minor character that you love (or can't find a way to love) without letting them take over your novel manuscript.
So if you haven't written a short lately -- or ever -- here's your nudge. Write a complete short, say three thousand words, and see if it makes you feel just a bit more limber than before.
And then, if I didn't fear being called a hypocrite, I'd tell you to submit it! Or, at least, think about making it into a novel or screenplay.