Short or long? As a writer you may often ask yourself if you want to tackle a big fish -- a novel-length project, or stay in shallower waters and write short stories. Some of you might decide to shuffle it around... work on a novel, maybe even complete that novel, and then write short stories or articles here and there. In any case, there are advantages to each side. This time around I will address the positives of short-story writing.
Time: By nature we are impatient beings. The idea of spending months, maybe years, on one endeavor is mind-blowing, isn't it? Of course, the rewards may pay off, IF you sell it to a publisher. However, the sweet success of accomplishment in short-story writing is so satisfying, even if the monetary rewards are small. Say you spend a couple of weeks writing and polishing your story, and when you submit, if you're lucky, another couple weeks with a magazine editor who buys it, well, you've just left one more mark on the world of published writing with your name on it.
Juggling: Of course while you have one story floating out there with a publisher, you've been working on another. Right? If not, you should. Don't let the dust settle. Keep it stirring! There are lots of magazines and ezines with a variety of interests just waiting for the next submission to fill their slots. Thus, a lot more opportunity to be published in the world of magazines compared to book publishing. Don't let these opportunities pass you by; submit, submit, submit!
Credits: Many published authors of novels, some even famous, got their start by selling short stories. As they say, "it looks good on a resume". Well, it helps, too, when you can include such publishing credits in a query letter. Especially it you are a newbie who is peddling your first novel.
Skills: If you are serious about writing, you know it's a constant in your life. You keep writing to improve your craft. Writing short stories and articles gives you an opportunity to hone your skills. In the beginning the writer is raw, making lots of first-time writer mistakes. Much better to practice and improve during those shorter projects. Then when you tackle that monster novel, you'll be equipped and ready. Or at least make fewer mistakes.
Window Shopping: One of the advantages to magazine submissions is the variety -- in fiction the many genres, in non-fiction an infinite number of topics. If you haven't decided where your niche is, this may be the venue in finding out. So, you write a mystery short, or maybe an article on travel, or whatever.... you're window shopping for what fits just right on you. And if you do know what your passion is, your forte, then just keep writing in that area and submitting.
I hope this has given you some food for thought. And the next time I will post tips on short-story writing. If you have any of your own suggestions or comments, drop a line!