The Power of Short-Form Writing by Lynne Collier

How writing shorter pieces can help with long-term goals

I thought that to be a successful author, I needed to write a stack of epic novels. That was somewhat disheartening because I don’t have the talent or attention span for that. So, I began my career as a writer accidentally.

A friend, a psychologist, suggested I write about my experiences raising a child with autism. As I was still helping my son on his journey, I had little time to sit and write at a desk for hours. But I did discover that I enjoyed applying my experiences to paper in the hope that I could help someone else.

Interestingly, I wrote short chapters because that’s all the time I had, and I realized that was all the time others with children on the spectrum had to read them. A perfect match! And I published that book, Raising Benjamin Frog, a few years later.

Then I stopped writing. I thought I had nothing else to say that might interest readers. I was wrong.
We all have a story (realistically, several) to tell. Not every aspect of our lives will be an exciting adventure, heartwarming romance, or epic drama. But we will likely have one or two chapters of something similar.
So, what do we do with those?

How can we write about short episodes in our everyday life that will be meaningful for our readers?

I am giving you the short-form as a possible solution.

I’ve been writing my memoir. Anyone else? But at this stage of life, I have a lot of chapters. How much of that will be interesting or helpful? Who cares about where I grew up and my grammar school, except for my children. Maybe? I added many strikethroughs to my manuscript and hid it at the bottom of my works-in-progress (WIP) list.

Then, last year, as a writer on Medium, I read a few articles on writing short-form. Some Medium publishers were looking for shorter pieces because the algorithms suggested longer articles were beyond some readers’ time restraints or attention spans. In other words, they were like me. And some publishers wanted to reach those neglected readers.

This opened up a new genre of possibilities for me as a writer with waning attention and stamina. I found other likeminded writers to connect with, and we share ideas and insights on this form of writing. The style has given me a new readership and a long “Short WIP” list.

I found some other benefits of short-form writing in my research.

Amazon now has a Short Reads section on Kindle. More readers are searching for shorter reads, such as novellas and collections of short stories. The readership is growing mainly because these stories can be read in one sitting on a portable device, and they’re easier to carry.

Contests often have a category for shorter pieces which can be written faster and in greater quantity.

Publishing work in a collection is good for your bio too. Collections or anthologies get your work noticed and spread your name to other authors’ audiences. I started writing for anthologies at the beginning of my writing career and enjoy being part of a group of writers writing on a common theme.

Short stories keep readers engaged between your novel release or the release of a new series and give them something to keep you in mind while they wait.

Increase your income through Kindle Singles. They usually sell at the same price as an average-length novel. Write the same amount of words for twice the royalties!

Release several short memoirs instead of trying to piece together a large manuscript. This keeps me focused on one theme at a time instead of threading many aspects of my life story together in a long book. I just started sharing some micro-memoirs on Medium. I’m much better suited to that than a novel on Amazon. But—I can always collect them all together someday, as Beth Ann Fennelly did in Heating & Cooling.

Tell your life story in a series of shorter books instead of one long one that’s unlikely to sell unless you become famous and they release a movie about you. You can test many genres, not just one. Write that drama about a shocking event, the rom-com of your teen years, or the suspense of getting lost that one time.

We have a lot to tell. This is how we can tell it all.

I’m sure there are many other benefits to writing short-form that I haven’t discovered yet. If you know some, please share them in the comments. I’d love to learn more.

Raising Benjamin Frog is available on Amazon.

Follow me on Medium and Facebook

And on my blog at

Cover photo: Nathan Wright (available on Unsplash)

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