I've put my novel aside for what will be a duration of 6 months. Long time, right? This was recommended to me by my undeclared writing mentor, because the novel has a few kinks that need working out, a lot of which I should be able to pick out with fresh eyes. Because you know how after staring at your manuscript for umpteen hours that you become blind to all the mistakes in it.
So, in the meantime, I'm experimenting with short stories. And you know, it's quite a lot of fun playing around with styles, POVs, and pacing. It's nice, too, because if you mess up, you only messed up on a few thousand words. Better that than to mess up a whole novel. And that's the great thing about experimenting with short stories: you can apply what you learned to novel writing.
Yeah, there will be some techniques that won't be carried over, like ambiguity about the main character, since you sort of need to know the character if you're going to stick with them for an entire book. But you may learn a new narration technique that works for you, and it may really jazz up a novel. For me, I'm learning to reign back on some crazy metaphor use so they don't stick out like sore thumbs in my writing.
So if you're stuck on your novel or needing a break, but don't want to take a vacation from writing, try playing around with short stories. Not to mention, there are LOADS of markets where you can submit a short story and make a bit of cash. Check out Duotrope's Digest for magazines (mostly eZines) where your short story might pertain to.
btw, I've updated my reviews page with Pirates of the Caribbean 4 movie review. So check it out!
I'm also going to recycle a few reviews from Amazon, because my book review count is looking pathetic.