My pal (and former editor) Andy Meisenheimer did me a huge favor and he doesn’t even know it. At the tail end of my first writing “career,” Andy started Story Praxis. He would provide a daily prompt and encourage writers to bang out ten minutes (or so) of prose. It was a way to keep in shape, so to speak, like a ten-to-fifteen minute workout. I dutifully complied and ended up with piles of really short “stories.”
I recently reviewed some of these morsels and found quite a few worth salvaging.
Writing short forces you to learn to say a lot with a little. And since most writers (me included) tend to say very little with quite a lot, forcing oneself to write really short stories and essays could just prove to be an invaluable skill. Like everything else, it takes practice. My first few forays into micro stories came out stilted and riddled with melodramatic sentence fragments. Now they read a bit more like stories. The best news? Every single time I write short, my facility with longer forms improves. This never, ever fails.
I routinely write/submit tiny stories (from seven words to 140 characters to exactly 100 words). This discipline sharpens my ability to choose “just the right word” or phrase “in the moment” while composing longer forms. This may not make me a better writer. But it certainly makes me a more confident one. Or maybe it’s a placebo? I’m good either way because it still works.
PS: Andy did a lot of things to help my writing. If you find yourself in need of professional editing, you might want to look him up. (Not to mention, he’s now a New York editor!)