Writing is essentially a solitary activity; just you, a keyboard, and an idea that you will hopefully be able to turn into text on your screen. The problem is that eventually you need feedback and encouragement; you need to be able to share your experiences with people who understand where you're coming from, which means other writers.
A couple of years ago I finally worked up the nerve to join my local group Speakeasy and start reading my work to complete strangers. One side effect of that was that I needed something that could be read in the 15-20 minutes available to each writer. Now at the time I had reached something of low point in my writing; the last novel I had been working on had drowned in a sea of rewrites and I really had very little to offer at first. Most of what was being read was poetry and short stories. I'm no poet so I went back to the genre I'd pretty much ignored for years; short stories.
Actually writing something short and snappy proved a bit of a struggle at first; my ideas have a tendency to expand to fill all the available space but I managed to come up with a workable synopsis and actual wrote a story that was just over a thousand words long, and then a couple more inspired by that first one. Over time the length did start creeping up and in due course I had an idea for a novel and started working on it. That book went far more smoothly than it's predecessor, in fact its a big part of the reason for starting this blog, and I think I have to attribute a lot of that to the short stories and the feedback and encouragement I got at Speakeasy.
This was all good but it did leave the question of what to do with all those short stories? The answer was to turn them into a collection and publish them as an e-book; not only getting them out to a wider audience but giving me a chance to learn about the mechanics of e-publishing in the process. The title of that collection is of course 'Different Skies' and I'm currently working on editing it into something that will work on a 'not going to mention a brand name starting with a K' electronic book reader.
If you want to take a message from this post then it's you are not the only writer out there; if you look you will find others who share your passion and have gotten together to provide mutual support and encouragement, so don't hold back, go look.