My co-author and I finished a short story the other day. We’re mostly novelists, so every time we successfully finish a short story, I feel the pleasant glow that comes from having carried off something that doesn’t come naturally.
If you’re one of the novel-writing breed, writing a novel is a lot easier than writing a short story. It just takes longer. That by itself, though, is enough to discourage a lot of writers who would be more comfortable working in the longer forms. If you try something new and ambitious with a short story and it doesn’t work, you’re only out a couple of weeks or so of work – maybe a month, if you don’t write fast – but if you try something new and ambitious with a novel and get the same result (or lack of it), you’re likely to be out six months or a year, maybe longer, of hard labor.
All I have to say about that is: The writing life is not one for the risk-averse.
(And there are all kinds of risk-aversion. The same person who’s willing and eager to bungee-jump off high bridges may freeze up completely at the thought of putting their made-up stories down on paper and asking strangers to pay money for the privilege of reading them.)