Monday, April 1, 2013

A to Z Challenge: About Writing Your First Novel

Before I start, I just want to give a HUGE shout-out to Arlee. Thank you for creating this awesome blogfest! It's definitely one of the highlights of my blogging year. 

And now, back to the original posting.

Congratulations on choosing to write a novel. It will give you hours on hours of pleasure and you'll love every single moment of it.

Veteran novelists, STOP GUFFAWING.

It is truly the easiest art -

Novelists! Stop laughing this instant! It's rude.

Ahem. Easiest art to partake in. After all, you've written e-mails and memos for years.

Seriously, vets. How do you expect me to trap people if you make me sound ridiculous. Can you at least limit your response to chortling?

No?

Oh fine.

Writing a novel is an amazing passion. And I'm not calling it a hobby for a reason. Nothing you've ever done before will prepare you for writing 50+ thousand words of cohesive story.

It'll consume you. Sometimes, it'll treat you well. Those times are amazing. They're what makes writing worth the struggle.

But struggles there are many. I'm going to share some of them this month, so you know what you're up against. This isn't intended to scare you off, but to arm you with knowledge you'll require. Because a big part of what makes the struggle really difficult is thinking that you're the only one.

You're not.

So if you really want to write a novel, be prepared to feel the burn. If not, I think you should find something else to devote the majority of your free time to.

Who's sticking around?

You?

Welcome to the madhouse, ladies and gentlemen! I hope you enjoy your stay!

Okay novelists! Now you get to have your say. Any advice to the new recruits?

119 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just don't quit!

Rosalind Adam said...

I agree with Alex. You have to keep writing even if you know it's not great because when you're done... but I guess you'll be mentioning edit in E :-)

michelle said...

50+ thousand words...? Now, I'm hyperventilating...
I can manage short bursts at a time... like 200 to 300 words... that's about it!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Great idea for A-Z. My advice? Find like minded people and support each other while writing.

Jeff Hargett said...

I began writing without a clue as to how it was done. Makes me wonder whether I would have undertaken the challenge knowingly. I'd like to think so because the rewards are definitely worth it.

Al Diaz said...

Madhouse, I love the madhouses. Some say I should be in one. And I was not the one who was laughing at your statements, I swear. :D

Bish Denham said...

Since I laughed like a loon, I must crazy, so I guess it's the madhouse for me.

Jaleh D said...

I had no idea what I was doing when I first got started, and maybe I should have waited longer before joining a writing group, because I lost some of the freshness for awhile on one story that in looking over my older notes, I'm trying to put back in. But the group improved my writing skills so much that my newer stories started off phenomenally better, so I can't say I regret it.

Misha Gericke said...

Excellent advice. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Nope. E is for another excruciating writerly torture. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha yep. I spent so long writing novels that the thought of only writing 200 words gives me the heevie jeevies. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Good one!

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah the rewards are definitely worth it. And I don't think not knowing will kill you, but I think a lot of people give up too soon because they don't know what they let themselves in for. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha that's most kind of you, Al. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Awesome! We can be roomies. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah the big thing about learning how to write is knowing how to stay true to yourself while picking up new skills.

Best of luck!

Mark Means said...

Some great advice..especially 'prepare to feel the burn'...how very true!

Great topic :)

sherilee said...

Not being a novelist, I will just nod and agree, and be impressed that you're getting published! That's awesome.

Thanks for stopping by my blog--not sure what a minion is (in this context), but I imagine that means I'll see you again!

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

Cool topic choice :). Very well put. My advice to those just starting on their first novel, you don't have to write starting at the beginning and ending at the end if it doesn't work for you. Experiment with how you write and find out what is best for you.

Also, never give up, never surrender! ;)

Clare said...

Excellent theme, Misha!

As for advice, I'm going to say something that might be contrary to what other novelists have said. Don't be afraid to give up - at least temporarily. If writing is your passion, don't give up entirely, but know when to take breaks. Know when to step away from a project. Know when it's okay to do something else, because you've just worked through the night writing thousands of words.

Laura Marcella said...

Stock up on chocolate!!!

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

M. J. Joachim said...

It's a big project that should never be taken lightly...

Sarah said...

LOL! Sorry, I was one of those laughing my way through the post...I really hope your day 2 is blood...for the blood you sweat every minute of writing. LMAO. ;) Love the theme, look forward to your posts this month!

Erin Shakespear said...

Fun post! Hmmmm, my advice would be to have a good stash of candy to bribe yourself with when you just really really don't want to sit down in front of the lap top and revise a scene for the 50th time.

Rena said...

I was definitely laughing.

Okay, here it is, I'll give you the secret to writing a novel:


Write one word. Then write the next word. Repeat.


And simple advice is often the hardest to follow.

Donna Shields said...

Madhouse is correct. And sleepless nights. Oh and you'll find you will talk to yourself (really your characters but from the outside view, you look like you need a straight jacket) LOL
I wouldn't trade this for anything. Just don't ever give up.

Sophie Duncan said...

Nice post!

There is much pain and perseverance involved in writing a novel, and much wine, I find that helps ;) However, when you get in the groove, it is the best thing ever to be writing and I wouldn't give it up for a minute.

Ameron said...

I suppose in the back of their minds everyone wants to write a novel (or has aspirations of doing so). I've never reached the point where I've decided to actually do it, but I will offer some advice. Write. Write a lot. It doesn't have to be gold. It doesn't have to be relevant. The more you write the easier it is and the better you become at it. So when you're ready to begin your novel, start writing and keep writing.

sharonsant said...

This is a great post. I'm really looking forward to more of your wisdom :)

Elise Fallson said...

Love your theme. I'd say, don't quit. Keep writing. Scream, kick, cry, throw a tantrum, just don't quit writing. Connect with other writers and read a lot. (:

A-Z participant blogging from Elise Fallson

Heather M. Gardner said...

Stop yelling at me!

I swear I laughed out loud at this post!

Great start! I'm all in!

Heather

GK Adams said...

The key to writing is never stop and don't give up. I've struggled with my novel for a while now, but I'm not tossing it aside. Perseverance pays off.

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks Mark. Glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

Trisha Leaver said...

My advice -- trust your instincts and never be afraid to take a writing risk!

Misha Gericke said...

Already answered to my minion identity on your blog. Yep. I am that fast. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

Those are so true. There are no hard and fast rules to writing. Someone could write backwards, if it worked for him/her.

And also, not giving up is really the only thing standing between a writer and finishing a novel.

:-)

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yes. I'll be touching on this later on this month. Balance is so important.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yes! Never forget the chocolate!

Misha Gericke said...

Agreed. Before I named Doorways, it was called The Beast. Not because of anything but the fact that the story snarled and kicked my ass repeatedly in the many years it took me to write it.

Botanist said...

I was laughing, but only to do the faint-hearted a favor :D

I've heard it said that if anyone can be discouraged from writing, they should be. I don't believe this is meant in a mean way, just that writing is full of discouragement, so be prepared!

Misha Gericke said...

Nope, not quite, but I do have a post called "Organ Damage" planned, if that counts. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

O_O Caaaaaaandyyyyy...

Sorry. What?

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahahaha now your comment had me laughing out loud. :-D

Elaine Smith said...

I love your theme. Writing is sooo time consuming but absorbing too. Keep writing. There is nothing like it, creatively draining but such a thrill.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah!

One time, I had my mother walk in on me while I was acting out a fight scene. Necessary in that I needed to know what went where and when.

But I still looked like a major dork.

Sadly, it's only one in a long line of such embarrassments.

Misha Gericke said...

So true. There's nothing like the rush of knowing the story suddenly fell together right. Or when everything just goes right and you write write write without end until you come to a place you need to stop.

And then you realize you'd written 10k in six hours.

Misha Gericke said...

Sound advice. Although nothing trains a person to write novels except for writing novels, writing a lot does go a long way towards helping.

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks! Hope you enjoy whatever you catch of the rest of the series as well. :-)

sassyspeaks said...

That was amusing and helpful lol . I have published a short not a novel. The editing never seems to be done.... :D

Misha Gericke said...

Great tips!

Connecting with writers is so important.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha I'm glad to hear I haven't lost my comedic chops.

:-D

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah definitely. Doorways took me almost 7 years from the first idea to signing the contract.

Misha Gericke said...

GREAT advice!

Misha Gericke said...

Well, continuing on the not-being-mean theme, I think it's safe to say that if someone can be discouraged from writing, they will be.

It's just that challenging on so many levels.

I mean, I had to pick 26 topics for my series, but trust me, many more came up than what I had space for.

Cathy said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoyed your post today. I'm really not a writer, but it's interesting what you had to say and I'm sure I'll be back.

Misha Gericke said...

So true. I take part in more than one artform, but nothing is quite as challenging nor as creative as writing.

With writing, I get the chance to really create worlds, and people, and histories. I can make them live in my mind and in the minds of others.

Misha Gericke said...

Haha yes. Maybe next year my theme should be 26 Things You Should Know Before Editing Your First Novel. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cathy. :-)

M.J. Fifield said...

"Veteran novelists, STOP GUFFAWING."

How'd you know I was doing that?

Love this post. It's a great introduction to your theme this year.

mental mosaic said...

My advice? Don't keep going back and repolishing your first chapter. Often that first chapter ends up in the garbage, so it's better to just keep moving forward.

I hate to admit how many first chapters I have buffed to a high shine only to realize they were little more than launchpads that I should have discarded at blast off!

Happy A to Z to you!

~Tui

Maria Dunn said...

Misha, I love the way you show any word can be used in your alphabetic creation. Clever A to Z post and thanks for the writing encouragement. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

Kelly Hashway said...

My advice would be to write every day and read as much as you can.

J. A. Bennett said...

Great post! It seems like I started writing with all of those misnomers in mind. Sometimes you just have to do it then learn from it, but the most important thing is to do it! <3

Nick Wilford said...

Great post! Be prepared to write a first draft then rip it to shreds. Seek advice and critiques - surround yourself with as many like-minded people as possible because you'll need them!

MadelineAnn said...

Just published and feeling strung out, so had great laugh when found your post. Keep it up!

Timothy Brannan said...

Writing is not a race, it's a marathon. Be prepared to go the distance!

Get everything on the page and then edit later. Allow the ideas to flow.

Looking forward to seeing what you do all month.
--
Tim Brannan
The Other Side and The Witch
Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
The Freedom of Nonbelief

Julie Flanders said...

I admit I was laughing more than a little bit. :D What a great idea for a theme. And a great way to celebrate your soon to be published first novel!!

I think your advice is all spot-on. It's amazing how time-consuming the process can be but it sure is worth it to jump in that madhouse.

tomwisk said...

You might be the perfect woman. You have the main requirement a sense of humor that can get everyone laughing. The replies show it. Thanks for stopping by my blog..

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Writing a novel is a long-term committment, and you really have to enjoy the novel--because you'll be thinking about it, re-reading it and revising it probably a dozen times.

Most people feel they have a novel in them. Maybe they do, but very few ever get it out of them, successfully.

Carol Kilgore said...

Strap yourself to your chair. Not only is it a wild ride, but lots of times you won't want to be sitting there to write.

I love being a writer - straps and all!

klahanie said...

Hey Misha,

Indeed, keep the passion alive and with the inspiration within and the encouragement of others, it will be so.

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar is more than willing to give any author, established or aspiring, her 'pawsitive' advice!

Have fun with the alphabet challenge. And I found out those involved with this, start with the letter "A". Very interesting! :)

Linda Ann Nickerson said...

Yes, that novel is in there someplace, if I could just wrap up those ongoing article assignments! Ah, the writer's life. . . .

Happy A to Z!
(I'm doing EIGHT blogs. Whew.)
Here's one:
A is for Absent - Rhymed Acrostics from A to Z

Misha Gericke said...

I'm a telepath.

True story.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah! That one I remember from when I started out too. I used to edit as much as write while drafting, but couldn't figure out why my stories kept losing soul.

Nowadays I write by hand to keep myself from polishing crap.

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks for stopping by, Maria! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :-)

Christine Rains said...

Never give up. No matter what anyone tells you, don't give up.

Misha Gericke said...

Reading is so important, but it's one I admit I still struggle with.

Not because I don't like reading. (Would be impossible to write if I didn't enjoy reading.) But rather because certain portions of my creative process require me being in edit mode.

Which makes reading anything a pain in the neck.

Misha Gericke said...

I think we all did. Which is the real reason why the novelists kept laughing.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah. Those are great pieces of advice.

Misha Gericke said...

Congrats on publishing! Glad you enjoyed my post.

Misha Gericke said...

I agree with you with editing later. A lot of damage can be done by prematurely using the delete button.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I definitely wouldn't have it any other way. Even if my book didn't get picked up.

Misha Gericke said...

Awe shucks! Now you're making me blush. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

"because you'll be thinking about it, re-reading it and revising it probably a dozen times"

And that's before you sell the story to an editor. Then you do it all over again.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh so true. There are some days when I'd rather clean up my room before writing. And that says a lot.

Misha Gericke said...

Penny is more than welcome to leave some pawsitive advice. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

EIGHT?! *fans self*

I'd go even more nuts than I am right now.

Misha Gericke said...

So true. In fact, I'd say that it's better to get annoyed with non-writing people for saying stupid things about writing than taking their opinions to heart.

They don't have a clue.

Lisa Southard said...

Good start Misha :-)

LD Masterson said...

Ah, thank you. That was a delightful laugh. I nearly wept, I was laughing so hard.

I'm going back to my writing now.

Adriana Dascalu said...

i'm happy to be at the madhouse!

SA Larsenッ said...

Feel the burn, is right! Breath it in and go with it. Most importantly: Do Not Quit!

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

In those times when I feel like I can't go on. I can't write another word, I have a little mantra. "Just keep writing, just keep writing."

MOCK! said...

I'm always amazed and impressed by those of you who have a story in you and can get it out to the rest of us!! Good luck!

Crystal Collier said...

LOL. Advice: Stockpile cheese for the bad moments, and best of luck!

Nicole said...

Great post! My advice: Hang in there and don't let the doubts drown out the inspiration.

Archana said...

An encouraging post! Waiting to read your upcoming posts!

Suz said...

I'll be along for the ride.

Medeia Sharif said...

It is a madhouse, but I'm glad to be part of it.

Fantastic post.

Sangita Kalarickal said...

Wonderful post, thank you!
I guess for me, I'm in it for the fun, I'd go stark raving mad if I dont get those stories out!
http://skaypisms.blogspot.com/

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks, Lisa. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Glad you enjoyed it.

Best of luck with your writing. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Same here. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Preach it, sister.

Misha Gericke said...

That's my mantra too!

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks! :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah. Cheese is good. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Definitely. I see this as so important that I'm doing a post about it.

:-)

Misha Gericke said...

Awe thanks!

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks, Suz! Hope you enjoy it. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks Medeia! I'm thrilled to have you in the madhouse with me. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah. I have too many voices in my head clamoring for attention when I don't write.

Mina Lobo said...

Hmmm...well, I reckon performing open heart surgery on yourself is probably easier than writing, but, you know, a challenge's a challenge... ;-)

Connie Gruning said...

This is one of the BEST posts I read so far today.
I'm excited to read more!
Connie
I'm visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge
Peanut Butter and Whine

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha so true. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Aw thanks!

Carrie-Anne said...

Be prepared to spend years on a book, depending on how long it is, how much editing it needs, and what kind of time you have to work on it. And as a typography geek, I have to urge writers to find a font that speaks to them. You'll be typing in that font for hundreds of pages, so there's no reason to pick one you don't like or that doesn't have a personal resonance.

Misha Gericke said...

That's a great tip. I never thought about changing the font. :-)

Sandy Campbell said...

thank you for the wonderful advice, and I love the way you wrote it up!! Fun and helpful all at the same time! www.sandysanderellasmusings.blogspot.com