Hi folks, I’m back again, and this week I am going to expand on a topic that I briefly mentioned in my New Year New Challenges post. For those who haven’t read it, I mentioned how with a new year upon us it was time to give ourselves some challenges, that will help push us further along this writer’s journey. I listed 10 challenges that you could try, and hopefully they have been of some use to you. It’s while doing that list I’ve come up with this new blog post, so today I will be discussing how do you know when it’s time to take that next step, to move on from doing the short stories and commit to a longer project.


Why do I feel the need to mention this again? Well because taking the next step is scary, and for all those who are fighting Mr Self Doubt you know that this could result in you hiding yourself in your imaginary cupboard. You will come up with many excuses why you couldn’t possibly try a longer piece of work, see below for examples.


  1. I’m too busy and just don’t have the time
  2. I think I was only meant to do short stories
  3. Rejection will hurt a lot more if I’ve spent months on a project
  4. I don’t know, I don’t think I can commit to such a project
  5. I’m not ready


The list goes on, but none of these excuses or any of the ones you’ve come up with are true, you are just allowing Mr Self Doubt to gnaw away at you. You’re not alone in this, I have messed about when it comes to writing my first novel. I’ve been “planning” it since August/September last year and truth is I could have finished writing it in the same time I’ve been “planning” it. What has delayed this process is of course my self-doubt, I know the story, I know the main characters, but I convince myself I need to plan more. Now while there’s more I need to look into I doubt very much that I needed as much time as I have allowed myself. So, how do I plan to overcome this? Well I have given myself a deadline. I have allowed myself to plan until 31st January 2014, and then on the 1st February 2014 I will start writing regardless of whether I feel I have planned enough or not. This deadline is important it tells you to stop talking about doing it and do it. It’s terrifying I can already hear myself say, “But Nicole, what if you haven’t finished planning?” However, the answer to that is simple the planning stage doesn’t stop when you start writing, as you write your ideas and plans will change and even after you’ve completed your first draft there are still things that will be changed and revised once you start that editing process, so don’t worry about it and start writing.


I will keep you posted on how I’m doing regarding this novel, I’m planning to try the 50,000 word a month challenge, again it’s all about deadlines and challenges because it’s so much easier to put off writing and listen to Mr Self Doubt.


Some people don’t necessarily need to plan a novel and can just write it, but as I’ve said before I’m a planner, I can write a short story with no real plans, but a novel with 3 plots and loads of characters does need a plan. So for those other planners out there, if you feel that you are using planning as an excuse to not start writing then be firm and give yourself that deadline. If you don’t need to plan and keep on putting off starting to write then again give yourself that deadline, and regardless whether you feel ready or not just do what the experts say and ‘just write’, you’ll be amazed what finally comes out.


For those who don’t feel confident enough to jump from short stories to a novel there are many other things you can do to build yourself up to that level.


  1. Short story collection: This will help to open your mind to creating a book, but rather than a book based on one story you can do a book made up of many short stories, all with the same theme or topic. I have toyed with this idea, but for me I think I will consider this once I’ve written that novel.
  2. Novelette: It’s a step up from the short story, and the word count ranges from 7500 to 17000 words. This will allow you to build up to a longer project rather than going from the average 5000 word short story to an 80,000 plus novel.
  3. Novella: this is the one just below a novel; apparently, the max word count is 40,000 words. With the novella, you can also add a sub plot so you kind of get the same experience of writing a novel but on a smaller scale.


Now while building up to a novel can help, it can also be an excuse to not try a novel. So yes, if a novel petrifies you then do consider something smaller, but do make sure that you are moving forward and approaching that novel rather than blocking yourself from it.


You’ll ask yourself often enough if it’s time to take the next step, and you’ll sit around waiting until you “feel” ready enough. By doing this you won’t get anywhere fast and that novel idea will always be just that, an idea. So my suggestion to you is that if the idea of a novel (or a longer project) has entered your mind and you even have a story idea then you are indeed ready to start something longer. So stop thinking about it and do it that’s what I plan on doing. Sometimes the softly approach doesn’t work, you need to just jump off that cliff and dive right into it, and shove all fear and doubt aside because writing the novel is only your first challenge.


So there you have it folks, whether you decide to go straight for that novel or build up to it the important thing is that you do take that step forward. This is a journey of discovery and you will often find yourself trying things that are scary but in the end, it will all be worth it if you are prepared to fight for it.

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About Nicole Simms

Nicole J. Simms is a UK horror, crime and fantasy writer. However, she is open to writing in other genres.Her stories have been published in anthologies, in magazines and on websites. In 2016, she won the Nine Voices’ 50-Word Halloween Competition with her story ‘Meeting the Parents’. And, her self-published e-book The Book of Drabbles is now available to download for free.She is also the deputy leader of the Oldbury Writing Group, a West Midlands based writing group. They have published a WW2 anthology together titled From Sunrise to Sunset, and they are now working on their second anthology.Stephen King, Sharon Bolton, J. K. Rowling, R. L. Stine and Kelley Armstrong are some of her favourite authors. And, when she’s not writing, she loves to bake, paint, knit and go on nature walks.Find out more at:Website - link - link - link -

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