Guest Post – Why You Need Flash Fiction In Your Life

I am excited to announce today marks my first-ever post from a guest blogger. Since my writing is almost exclusively nonfiction, I wanted to expand my content with posts by creative writers I admire. I hope you enjoy this post on writing flash fiction by J, creator of  Don’t Delete Me and fellow Blogging 201 alum.

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Free Photo from MorgueFile

Free Photo from MorgueFile

I have tried and failed at writing a novel more times than I would like to admit. With what I am hoping are the right intentions I set out, armed with caffeine and that innocent feeling of determination to write a novel. To my initial surprise I can quickly get on paper about 800 words. But then the inevitable happens; the writing stops. I can’t think anymore. My brain shuts down. And I begin to go back, to edit, and to scrutinize those 800 words. More often than not I come to find that that novel I thought I was working on is actually not a novel at all. It had all the good beginnings of a novel, but it didn’t really have that extra little bit of oomph it needed to become it. Maybe it was because I stopped and looked back, maybe it was because it truly wasn’t an idea great enough to form a novel; I’ll never really know for sure. But in all likelihood, it was probably a bit of both. I didn’t plan well enough and I didn’t spend enough time thinking on and broadening that idea I had. Luckily, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have started writing.

Those 800 words have a beginning, middle, and a definite end. It’s a story, through and through. But at 800 words, it was no more than what most would call a flash fiction. And what good, you may be wondering, would a super short, barely a story, story be when I am trying to write a novel? A surprisingly great amount of good it turns out.

Maybe you are in the same position as me; getting stuck writing accidental short stories while struggling with attempts to write a full-fledged novel. Maybe you are actually halfway through writing that breakout novel of yours when all of a sudden that all too familiar block hits. Both of these situations are where those little flash fictions can come in handy. If you think of flash fiction as diet writing, it starts to make more sense. It’s not easier to write because really, what diet is easy? For that matter, what writing is easy? But flash fiction is, unlike most diets, easy to enjoy. There aren’t many rules to writing flash fiction, there is just the one; it has to be 1000 words or less. Any more than that and it starts to turn into a short story.

As a writer who is working on a novel I can assure you that there will be many days that you will have where ‘working on your novel’ actually means writing something else entirely. Yes, you may not be adding to your word count, and your deadline may be inching closer and closer without you getting ahead but if you are writing, you really ARE getting ahead, even if it’s not on your book. But with all those ideas in your head swirling and jumping around, barely settling down for a break and all that thinking you do; you can start to feel pretty bogged down. Sometimes so much so that you forget why you ever enjoyed writing in the first place. You may even start to wonder if you are actually a masochist because for some reason, through all that dissatisfaction, you keep working, keep trying, and keep writing.

Well, don’t ever even think of changing those masochist habits of yours, however frustrating they may be, and especially if you want to get that novel completed. But remember that you can take a break, you can have some fun, and you can work on something else. Something short, just a flash.

 

6 thoughts on “Guest Post – Why You Need Flash Fiction In Your Life

  1. jamesphiliprichmond

    A great point! Taking a break and enjoying your life in-between writing a novel. I’ve been itching to start writing a short story, but I have some things coming up that may impead that endeavor. Good luck though! 🙂

    – James

    Reply
    1. J. Sander

      Hopefully you will be able to write something soon James! Writing short stories or flash fiction always seem to put me in a better mood when I need some writing inspiration.

      Reply
      1. jamesphiliprichmond

        Thank you I just looked through some of J’s work and I was thoroughly impressed. I followed him on Twitter, and when I get home I’ll follow his blog. 🙂

        Cheers,
        James

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