How Does One Write a Novel?

Blog No. 60

It’s the New Year and it is snowing like the dickens (Charles I think).  It is the second and I am back at work.  It was a harrowing experience getting here today, but I made it – which is how I feel about writing my first allotted amount of words yesterday.  I spent 2013 learning how to incorporate writing into my life (with a lot of help from my writing group) and now I’m trying to use the harrowing experience of last year to, along with my now regular writing, write a novel.

I just had to go and shoot my mouth off and tell people that I was going to write a novel this year.  Now I actually have to do it and I have no idea how.  Sure I know it involves sitting down and writing, but there is so much more to it.  Or is there?  I don’t know.  I’m not completely ignorant – I have looked into it a bit and what I’ve found is that it’s a huge process with a lot of steps.  Luckily for me I know someone as stupid as myself who has taken on the same task.  Christian is actually hoping to have his novel done before the end of the year, and knowing him he’ll do it to (if for no other reason than to make me look more the fool than I do myself).

The first step is to write.  I’ve tried several tactics in the past and only made any real headway with my process from last year.  Which was simply to write and to have a group around you to keep you (or me) focused.  I doubt I will employ other methods.  We’ll see when I get stuck (and how badly).  Of course you have to write every day.  Everyone knows that.  I started off the first day of the year with a nice big solo writing session and I managed to surpass my meager daily goal.  I got a big cup of tea, put my headphones on and sat at the kitchen table scribbling away.  Part one (of the entire process) has started off alright, but it’s a marathon so I have to look at the long term.

Two years.  That’s how long I have heard it will take to get a book printed – from conception to book in hand.  There isn’t a lot of point in dwelling too much on it since I am going to spend the first year writing it, but it is definitely something to keep in mind.  I have to go through several edits and that’s just the start.  There is registering an ISBN number, getting international tax information, layout, design, publicity… it is a huge task to undertake so the sooner I can get started the better.  But how can I start before I even have chapter one written?  I don’t.  I keep writing and look into it bit by bit until I have enough of a book to move forward and enough understanding of the system to make some headway.

Writing the novel in tandem with Christian is going to help.  We are going to be able to keep on each other to actually write the thing and we can share the workload (and financial burden) when it comes to the publication side of things.  He is even going to start his own splinter blog (splinter from Adventure Worlds that is) much like this blog here.  We will both have periodic updates (not that I am speaking for him) but nothing else will likely go up about the novels.

Rest assured I am still going to be on my regular schedule for this blog and I have a story in the bag for Adventure Worlds (as does Christian), so nothing will suffer for the novel.  Nothing but me at least.  We still have our plans for the Zines and posters and Christian has convinced me we should shoot for a short story collection by the end of the year.  That would be a lot of extra work, but it will give us a chance to get some of that scary publication stuff sorted out and it will allow us to try out a professional editor (one of the most expensive and nerve wracking parts of the process).

So here I am on day two.  I have had one successful day (which was enough to get this blog going) and I hope to meet up with the rest of the group tonight and get more writing done.  This year is going to take lots of music, lots of coffee, lots of kind words, lots of support from my writing group and friends, more meetings that I have time for and dedication that tends to wan after the first couple months of the year.  Which is where you fine people come in.  I need a lot of followers to have an audience for when this book is finished but I’m thinking now also to have support while writing this thing.  Like I said, there will be updates posted here (which will give me some nice material for this blog).  I see it as a win-win.

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5 thoughts on “How Does One Write a Novel?

  1. So not only have you started on the right foot with regards to your daily writing goals, you have also pushed forward with this here space itself that is amazing my friend — I’m taking baby steps much like yourself and the first of those steps is to make sure that I have a more focused presence in our collective of writers and also on the Writing itself — Keep inspiring me to push forward 🙂

    1. Something strange happened at about the half way point through last year. I started to write the weekly posts as much as to not miss a week as because I had something to say. The continuity was infectious.
      The act of coming up with a new topic, writing, and posting became second nature. I still had that panic on weeks when I struggled to come up with ideas, but I was always thinking about it.

      I’m hoping that I can do the same thing with the novel and other writing for this year. I want to work at it until I can’t imagine not writing every day. I know you have the same affliction that I do with your brain always thinking up new stories (sometimes without your consent). It’s kind of like that.
      Day One: write.
      Day Two: still write.
      Day Three: don’t look back.
      We can all do it!

  2. JO

    It is just persistence, Ben. It’s like entering a 100 km walking race. How can one do that? One little bit at a time. I like to think of writing like people think of dieting- you want to do it every day but sometimes you just don’t. In my experience if I get far enough to get stuck it’s because I am trying to impose my ideas on something which has become an entity and has ideas of its own. And it’s always right. Once you get something down, you can change it, edit it, ISBN it. The first little bit is getting that first draft down. Good luck!

  3. Thanks. I’m trying not to rush it, but I feel like I have wasted so much time I want to get as much done as quickly as I can. The part, I think, that is hard to get my head around is that I am going to finish a (however long) first draft and likely rewrite much if not most of it. But again I am getting ahead of myself. I have to finish that first draft first.
    I’m looking forward to reading your book once it’s for sale.

  4. Pingback: 002: A Novel Approach | Fed to the Lions!

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