Confession time: I hate writing novels.
You wouldn’t know it to look at my NaNoWriMo involvement, but I hate writing novels. I never feel like I have that much to say, no matter how thoroughly I outline and prepare beforehand. I had this problem in school, too. The teacher would assign a ten-page paper; I would write an eight-page paper that concisely covered all of the assigned topics with the proper structure. By the time I got to high school, my teachers had given up on me ever writing long papers. My college professors were less forgiving on the first paper, but more often than not let me slide on later papers. Writing my Masters thesis was like pulling teeth, and eventually my computer gave up all hope and destroyed the original file and every single backup I’d dutifully made.
So…maybe novel (and any other long-form) writing hates me, too. Heh.
Fortunately, I can write short stories and novellas all day. And that’s a good thing. There are many writers who, like me, aspire to longer fiction but prefer the confines of shorter fiction, and a fair number have them have found a workaround. You look at the works of masterful science fiction and fantasy author Roger Zelazny, and you’ll find as many (if not more) short story collections than you will novellas. (He wasn’t a fan of the novel length, either.) Some of Zelazny’s collections are just that: a collection of short stories related by topic, theme, or time period in which they were written. Others are a collection of serial short stories, linking together to tell one novel-length story.
Short story anthologies by new writers are considered a hard sell at the moment by traditional publishing, but a collection of serial shorts stories can come off enough like a novel to get a foot in the door (if your writing and editing are well-practiced and implemented). But that’s not to say you can’t create anthologies and go the self-publishing route. Either way, it’s a way for the short story writer who’d like to release a novel-length book to reach that goal.
But it’s not just writers who can benefit from this approach. Video producers are learning they can produce a webseries, and then string the series or season together into one viewing experience roughly the length of a movie. Webcomics are taking their regularly released strips, pages, or panels, and pulling them together into volumes.
If you’re a creative who dreams of one day creating a large project in your field, consider creating it in pieces and then blending the pieces together into that single large project.