Currently, my work in progress novel is just over 90,o00 words. I’ve been working on it in fits and starts since November 2012. Since that time, I found out I was pregnant, gave birth to my daughter, had a child graduate HS, helped said child go off to China for a summer, get another child to gymnastics camp, work a regular day job throughout it all since baby was 2 1/2 months old, and — oh, yeah figure out a gluten free diet.
So, I’ve been a bit busy as all of us are. However, in the 19 months that have passed since I began my supernatural thriller novel, I have learned a few things that I did not expect to learn from the novel writing process. I thought writing was setting down the story in a straight-forward outline which is plotted out beat-for-beat so all one must do is write the flesh and flash and slip it onto the bones you’ve already laid down. Yeaaah…right.
Here is what novel writing is REALLY all about.
1. Writing a novel takes love. Yes, you read that right. When you are going to sit down and be friends with a piece of work for the next umpteen months/days/years you BETTER love it. What does that mean? It means you must be loyal to your novel. Think about it often. Dream about it. And, of course, write it out fully.
2. Writing a novel does not mean you must finish the novel you began. [What?!] Yes, this sounds like an oxymoron. Literally speaking, it is. However, as any writer can tell you — it’s not. I wrote a short story that eventually turned itself into a novel. It was called “Opening Up”. After some months passed after I wrote it, it became clear to me that the novel I wrote was NOT the novel it was supposed to be. The main character of this novel was the wrong POC for this book. The true main character is a character that came to the fore about 1/3 of the way into the book. Therefore, I have to totally re-write this novel from the new perspective.
3. Writing a novel is a learning process. You are not necessarily learning about the characters, the setting of the story, or working on the sound of the speech patterns of your characters. You are learning about yourself, the writer, who will be stepping into the background and allowing the characters to speak, act, dance and generally entertain the writer — who in turn entertains the reader. Therefore…
4. Writing a novel CAN take a lot of time depending upon how stubborn the writer is! If the writer does not allow himself/herself the luxury of being an ’empty’ vessel for the story to come and fill them up it may take a long time for the story to wind its way through the synapses and sinews of the writer’s mind and body to come into being. In fact, if the writer is truly stubborn the story may never see the light of day.
5. Writing a novel is formulaic — not in the sense of one thing follows this thing that follows another thing. Not, not a linear formula. Writing a novel is akin to allowing the formula to happen to you. Here is the magic novel writing formula —
WRITER + MUSE + PATIENCE + RELAXING + RESEARCH + MEDITATION = NOVEL
6. Writing a novel is cathartic.
7. Writing a novel breaks down barriers in one’s mind and allows the writer to break free of inner obstacles [in life]. By overcoming challenges in writing, the writer frees up mental/head space for the work-in-progress novel.
8. Writing a novel is good for your skin. With all of the time the writer has while waiting for the muse to elaborate on certain scenes/characters &/or, the mood for a chapter, the writer will have plenty of time for facials — either homemade ones, or at the spa! [Okay, so maybe I just wanted a spa trip, okay??!!? Thank you, Spa Castle!]
In the end, when you’ve written the last word and hit the save icon, you know you’ve made a great accomplishment. You are in the company of great minds throughout time who have gone through a similar journey and have come out with the unique product of imaginative wordplay.