Cover art from MabelAmber.
Creators all over the internet are taking advantage of this quarantine to create more than normal. There are more podcasts, more blog posts, more art. Every other post online seems to be about how everyone’s stuck at home, so we might as well have good things to read, watch and listen to.
Every time I see one of those posts, I kind of want to smack the person who wrote it. Yeah, lots of people have more free time than normal. Some of the rest of us are working harder than ever because we work in essential jobs.
Now, I work from home. Please don’t think for one second that I don’t understand what an awesome privilege that is. I am safe, my family is safe. I’m not one of the many trying to get unemployment right now. I’m thankful for that.
I’m also stupid busy again. I’m working extra hours, trying to get a book out, writing more for some of my freelance clients and PBW. Now seems like the dumbest time to add something else to my plate.
So, I’m not. What I’m doing instead is taking every other weekend off to write short stories. I don’t work on the novel, I don’t work on promotional stuff. I just write flash and micro fiction for a whole weekend. If I were a painter, I would liken this to stepping away from my work in progress to wash the paint off my hands and sketch.
If you’re a creator, here are five reasons why you might consider doing the same thing.
Lets stories out that are talking to me.
Any writer will tell you that getting ideas is not the problem. It’s never been the problem. The problem is what to do with all the damn ideas! I have this great novel I’m writing and I’m super excited about it. But I also have this idea for an eerie little piece. And I want to write about some dark moments from my childhood. And some bright moments. And maybe I’d like to talk about some things going on in the world right now.
There was a time when I thought serious writers worked on one project at a time. I thought that chasing all of these different stories was childish. It went right against the Lion meditation I love so much.
But here’s the thing. When I ignore those stories, they start digging away. They become the distraction that I can’t ignore. They make me resent the story I’m working on. I can’t have all these other stories because I’m working on this one! That’s not a good way to work.
Gives me new material to get up faster than novels.
Novels take time. Anyone who has a favorite author knows this. I have a list of authors I check on monthly to see if their new book is coming out soon. This month. This year? Please?
I hope that somewhere a reader is waiting for my new book the same way I wait for Tamora Pierce’s new book. And if that person is out there, I want to be able to put out other things that might give them something entertaining to consume while they wait.
I also like to get my name out there every so often, to make sure people don’t forget me.
Lets me play with ideas.
I am an artist. I know I don’t put it that way often, but there it is. Writing is art. And I want to explore that. I want to try new things, new points of view. I want to write about weird little shit that might never make a full novel. Who’s that old man I saw on the bus, where’s he going? Can I write a story in a weird pov? Can I write a story about the lifetime of a shoe, or a bird, or a gift card? Can I write a story about this creepy picture I just found?
I need the freedom to explore. To write things that might not work. To write things just for me.
Gives me a break.
Frankly, I need a break sometimes. I need to take my eyes off the project at hand and do something else.
I’m writing dark science fiction. I might want to put that down and make a ghost story. Or maybe a little smut. Maybe a nonfiction essay. A change is as good as a rest, is what I’m saying.
Sends me back to my WIP with fresh eyes.
Of course, the weekend will end and I’ll get back to my novel. Of course, the work I did when not working on my novel is still writing. So maybe I learned something I can bring to my novel. Or I learned something new. Maybe it’s even something I can write into the novel. It all feeds into the work at large.
And even if I don’t learn anything new, my writing will be better for the fresh eyes I bring to it.