A Writing Conundrum

After completing another manuscript in May, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone.

I’ve always been a rambling writer. Novels are my medium. But I’ve heard so often that writing short stories can do many things, but these two things specifically:

  1. Exercise your writing abilities (because you can play around with genre, tone, style, etc., far easier than with an entire novel).
  2. Get you a foot in the door (apparently, if you’ve had short stories published it gets an agent’s attention).

And both of those things are … pretty good.

For a few months, I scoured the internet for short story competitions, and prompts, and ideas, and I’ve written a couple, submitted them even (which I’m proud of myself for, because that is way out of my comfort zone). And it’s been… interesting.

On the one hand, I enjoyed it, because it allowed me to flex my creative muscles, while not committing to an entire manuscript or fantasy world. It felt good to place the final full-stop and know it was done – especially when I was submitting them – and it was also fun to write in different genres, or based on prompts somebody else gave me.

But on the other, more weighty hand, it didn’t really fulfil me. None of these stories really meant all that much, and I also didn’t really feel like I’d learned anything significant. I started this venture because I wanted to improve my sentence structure, to try and find different ways of writing the same twenty feelings humans have. But it didn’t really do that. I was still writing the same, and editing the same.

Then, I thought, maybe I’m not trying hard enough, not flexing my creative muscles enough.

Which seems like a reasonable conclusion to make.

But, the logical response to that is – do I want to try harder?

The honest answer is… I don’t know.

And so we come to my conundrum.

  • Do I continue to scour the internet and try my hand at writing short stories that are a little fun, but don’t really affect anything in my life at all?
    • OR
  • Do I stop wasting time on that, and instead work on the novels that I do enjoy working with, even though they are really time-consuming and take so much more out of me?

Am I wasting time with short stories? They’ve never come easily to me. I am much more naturally inclined to create bigger stories, and creating characters is basically my drug. Or maybe I’m going about this writing-short-stories thing all wrong. Any short story aficionados want to give me some tips? Should I keep at it? Will it make me a better novel-writer, or help in any way? Or should I just throw the towel in there, and go back to what I know I absolutely enjoy, and am moderately better at?

Fellow writers, any tips?

4 thoughts on “A Writing Conundrum

  1. I have no answers for you, because I’m going through the exact same thing myself. I do enjoy writing novels, but I do find myself asking if this is worth my time, if I’m just playing at being a writer. Anyway, thanks for sharing this and all the best with all your writerly pursuits!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a real struggle – because writing can be so hard sometimes, and there’s really no way of knowing if it’ll actually ever get you anywhere. If only we could see the future. I think something that keeps me focused is looking at the other option – what does life look like if I stop writing completely? What would I do instead? It’s tough and can be exhausting, but here’s hoping our writing takes us to great places! Thanks for reading, and good luck to you too 😊


  2. I’ve been writing short stories for about six years now, and I think the important thing to remember is that not all prompts and contests are created equal. For example, I personally wouldn’t touch a “here’s the first and last paragraphs of your story” prompt. My favorite contest is essentially “17,000 words. Sci-fi or fantasy. Go.” You need to know yourself, what you write well, before you plunge headfirst into something. But once you find your niche, it’s basically writing a novel in miniature–sprinting instead of running a marathon–and much easier to keep track of all the threads. I’ve found characters writing short stories that have surprised me into being just as wonderful and important as those in novel drafts.
    And, you know, they say fantasy is one of the worst genres for the short form. So if it works for me, maybe there’s a place in it for you too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so funny you mention those first and last paragraph comps. I was just contemplating joining one, but decided against it 😅 but you’ve really made me think. I never considered it as a mini novel. But I do have some ideas that are too small for full length novels, but much too big for really short stories. What you describe seems pretty fun, actually. Thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

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