A Novel Takes Time

Are you writing a novel? I am.

Writing a novel requires the creation of a living, breathing alternative world. That’s hard work.

It takes years to write a book, between one and ten years. Annie Dillard says, “Less is so rare as to be statistically insignificant.”

When it bothers you that it’s taking you a long time to finish your manuscript, don’t give up. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep revising.

Writing is hard.

Really hard. It just is. As soon as you accept this, you can stop resisting, and start putting your energy toward moving forward.

Don’t bother looking for shortcuts. It takes time and hard work.

Don’t listen to charlatan’s who say it’s easy. Writing is never easy, and on some days it’s not even fun. But for writers, writing is the only thing worth doing.

“Writing a book [substitute your favorite genre for book] is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”–George Orwell, author of literary classics 1984 and Animal Farm

Tiny Thought #1

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.
~Howard Aiken

Read your way to writing

 

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I read every day. I tell my students to read and read widely.

Reading is the one necessary prerequisite for writing.

If you’re a reader, you know the forms and conventions of writing and how others use the forms and conventions to shape their work. You know how to write.

Maybe you don’t know how to begin or continue or finish. Maybe you don’t know how to publish what you’ve written.

But I’m here to tell you that you do know how to write.

The rest can be learned.

This blog can help.

Write Some Words

“A word after a word after a word is power,” says novelist Margaret Atwood.

Today is January 9. We’re leaning into the end of the second week of January 2020.  What have you written this year? What are you writing today?

 

The Courage to Write

Cynthia Ozick said, “If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.”

To sit down and write when you have dozens of other pressing demands, takes courage. But there is no other way to write.

Today let’s remember Katherine Anne Porter’s words: One of the marks of a gift is to have the courage of it.

Begin Anyway

I’m thinking about this today. Reminding myself, remind my students, reminding you, dear writer . . . Writing is a huge undertaking, immense; it take more than all you have when you begin.

Begin anyway.

Keep writing.

 

Writing Tip #15

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Part of being a successful writer is knowing your genre. If you want to publish, it is important that, whatever genre you write in, you familiarize yourself with what’s current in your genre. What was popular even ten years ago isn’t necessarily popular today. Read what’s thrilling readers today. Then write the best darn article, essay, poem, or novel that you have in you.

Finding Secret Undiscovered-for-Writing Pockets of Time to Write

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For a woman, every day is about making choices. Some of those choices we have no control over. We have to be at work at a certain time, pick up the kids from daycare, or take the cat to the vet. But there are other things that we do have control over: like whether or not we write.

When we own up to the fact that we really do choose whether or not to spend a piece of our day or week writing, then it’s coming from a place of empowerment. We’re in charge. We’re saying yes or no to writing at that time. That replaces victimhood.

So, let’s acknowledge there are things we must do. These things are not choices.

If your days are busy and chaotic, like mine. Then, look for those quieter moments where you can settle in and write for a little while. Do you commute to work? Can you write to and from your job? Or can you bring a sack lunch, stay at your desk and write a few days a week? How about if you treat yourself to a coffee and sandwich at a nearby coffee shop and spend that hour alone writing?

Here’s my point: If you’re truly invested in your writing, you may need to look for those secret, hidden, undiscovered-for-writing pockets of the day that don’t take away from family and home responsibilities, and do your writing at those times.