Novels force you to stick with one story and plot. There’s nothing wrong with this so long as you have the attention span to work on the same story for months at a time. If you’re like me, you can’t have multiple works in progress. If I start something, I work on it until I finish it. I hate having unfinished projects and if I were to start working on another story, I’d think the time I dedicated to that new story could be used finishing the other.
Short stories allow you to engage with and test out multiple topics and genres. Want to write a western? Write it. You feel inspired to write a horror story? Write it. You don’t have to have a novel mapped out to experiment with a different genre. You spend a week or two writing the draft of a new short story and if by the end you like it, you can either write more or call it a day and move on to another genre.
They are also perfect for people with short attention spans. I have to really enjoy whatever story I’m currently working on to force myself to work on it every day for months on end and even then, I may get frustrated or just wish I could work on something else but I push myself to finish what I started before working on something new. It could be possible that taking breaks to work on other stories during breaks of writing for my novels would be beneficial but then I think that I’d be taking too long to finish the first drafts of my novel and wasting too much time. Stephen King says the first draft of any novel shouldn’t take longer than three months and I agree. I just can’t seem to discipline myself to finish in three months.
Short stories can be wrapped up rather quickly and then you can start another story while editing your previous one, if you can manage that. I will get super into a subject for a short period of time before I get passionate about another. Short bursts of inspiration can be incredibly beneficial if you use them to your advantage. When I was playing Red Dead Redemption 2, I got really into western stories but because I was working on my novel, didn’t take advantage of my inspiration to actually write a western of my own. I’ve watched Stephen King movies and got motivated to write a horror story and wrote one in the past. I’m currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird and hope to write a story mimicking the style of Harper Lee but we will see if I can live up to the challenge. Now with no current projects, I’m also able to pursue my certificate in Creative Writing online like I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time for on top of my novel writing. I plan to make that come to fruition as well.
Take advantage of short bursts of inspiration and passion. Short stories can capture almost every feeling a novel can in less time. They can also help you work on things such as plot and character development as well as setting the scene of your stories. They make for good practice as well as great stories.