Today's phrase has me imagining that the person who wrote it is thinking about writing a novel, but have never tried it before.
So firstly, I want to commend this faceless person for not being stupid and going: "Phht. Writing schmiting. This is going to be easy."
Because it isn't. There are definitely some challenges, but they differ in size and variety from person to person, I think. However, here are some of my challenges:
1) The sheer scope of the story. I'm just going to give it to you straight: NOTHING prepares you for the work involved in writing a full-length novel. Not poetry. Not writing short stories. I know. I did both (and did really well with both) before I started novelling. Think about it. Poems can be long, but most of them don't go too far beyond one or two hundred words. Short stories: maybe 5- 10 k words. Novels' word count: 80-110k or more. Even if you write the equivalent of that in poems and short stories, it's not the same. Why? Because...
3) Time. If you're thinking: "Oh I want to write a novel, but I don't have time..." I'm going to have to say that you either have to change your thinking or change your mind about writing. The reason why I say this is that no writer technically has time to write, unless they do it for a living. And even then, life is full of distractions. The only reason we're still able to write is because we put it high on our priority lists. If you're not willing to do this, I fear that this challenge will prove to be insurmountable.
4) Finally: The Doldrums. This was probably the biggest challenge I had while writing Doorways. Basically, if I got writer's block or burned out after writing too much at a time, I'd have weeks of almost no productivity. These periods probably doubled the time it took me to write the story. Sad thing is, I don't have a remedy for them except to wait them out.
But these are definitely not the only challenges to writing your first novel. So I'm going to ask my writing bloggie friends: What were your greatest challenges to writing your first novel?
Losing 122 pages due to a corrupt floppy disk. So disheartening. (Feel so old now)ReplyDelete
I hope you kept writing anyway! A friend of mine used to write stories alongside me, and her floppy disk was lost. She was so disheartened that she just couldn't get herself to pick things back up. She kept telling herself that she was too far behind to start again. That was more than ten years ago, and now she realizes that what she had wasn't even that good. She could have done so much more! But again, at the "ripe old age" of 24, she still feels like she's too behind to start.Delete
So don't give up hope!
And I assume you're not, because you're online reading blogs about it.
Just wanted to let you know you're not alone, and we're rooting for ya.
Oh no worries, I kept going. I did have a little festering period of just being too mad to do anything but what I ended up with was better than what I lost. :)Delete
I'm a very slow writer--1000 words is a good day. So the biggest lesson I had to learn in writing my first novel was to find the time to work on the book at least five days a week. Even ten minutes of re-reading could be productive for me because it kept the story fresh in my mind. I don't know how many plot holes I had to plug because I'd forgotten things that I said/done earlier in the text.ReplyDelete
I was all over the place with my first book. And I made the mistake of using the Omniscient POV. Had to go back and rewrite the entire book in the First Person POV.ReplyDelete
The doldrums used to hit me hard for sure. I've gotten better at it, but whew! I would take a year off after a long project. How's the June 30th deadline going?ReplyDelete
Great post! I've recently been thinking of starting a novel, and this post is very helpful. I've never thought that writing a novel would be easy, but it's nice to know some of the specific challenges involved. :)ReplyDelete
Getting started and keeping going for the first 100 pages or so; at some point, the thing takes on a life of its own, but up to that point it really needs nurturing.ReplyDelete
I think the focus piece is so important. It's always so tempting to run after a new bright shiny idea instead of sticking with the one you're working on until it's completed.ReplyDelete
Good points. It IS a longer haul when writing a novel. I didn't have so much trouble with my first novel after writing shorter works, because I didn't know it "had to be" a certain length. So it was only 85 pages! LOL Then I moved onto the next novel with gusto. :)ReplyDelete
I tend to over-think. That slows me down.ReplyDelete
I agree a hundred percent with the second one!ReplyDelete
Great post. For my first novel, it was confidence. Am I good enough? Now as years have passed, time is an issue, but I've learned how to make the best use of my precious little free time.ReplyDelete
Putting it on a shelf to move on was a challenge. It's still sitting there waiting for me ... And the second. I'll get to them eventually. They day-in, day-out sticking to it is tough. Really, really love that first novel.ReplyDelete
Time is definitely one of my biggest challenges. But I write whenever I can fit it in, meaning I steal time during the day for the passion I have.ReplyDelete
Another challenge to writing is maintaining confidence when others doubt...and at some point, someone will ask what you've been up to, why you've been so busy and the "I've been working on a special project" explanation will spill forth and the funny faces will occur, the "You could spend your time doing something more productive" lines may happen and you have to be okay with nodding and continuning with your passion of writing.
The biggest challenge I had with Novel #1 was it started as a short story, but I liked the characters. So I extended it, then didn't like the story, so shortened it to a novella. Then realised novellas didn't sell (1990-ish, way before epublishing), then shortened it, then lengthened it. Oops. Too many issues to address there!ReplyDelete
My biggest challenge is starting. I don't have an idea. I want an idea. When I would tell short stories off the cuff to children, I would just start and see where they went. Those were short stories though. I want a bigger idea. How do I start? And does that mean I can't be a writer if I don't know what I want to write? Maybe I only have short stories in me? Maybe I only have poems? Maybe I just need to start writing and see where it goes? I'm not getting any younger.ReplyDelete
BTW: Could you change the font color for your comments? It is very light gray and hard to read.Delete
I agree with Donna on your comment color. It really is a probably, Misha. I have to highlight them just to read them.Delete
Hey guys. I made it a bit darker. Is it better?Delete
All very good points and great advice. Thanks for sharing. I'm printing this for reference.ReplyDelete
I'm going to answer a slightly different question. What was it about my first novel that enabled me to finish it -- unlike all the other unfinished works lying around my house?ReplyDelete
It was that I was writing a historical fiction novel based on a true story. I didn't have to invent the plot. My heroine lived it.
And once I wrote that one, I somehow broke out of whatever was blocking me from completing a novel based on a totally fictional plot. Of course, there were stumbles along the way. Book #2 still hasn't sold and has been re-written several times. But book #5 is going to copy-editing at Clarion Books. Squee!
Don't have the time? If you really want to write, you'll make the time.ReplyDelete
Great post, Misha.ReplyDelete
I think the hardest thing is turning off the Internal Editor to let the crap flow in the first draft, all the while holding onto the vision so the crap will at least drop into the right places.
WOW! SO true!!!ReplyDelete
The doldrums are definitely the hardest parts for me! However, I find that after I do wait it out, I write much better, and a greater amount and quality in a shorter amount of time!
I just recently finished my first book, and am working on the second! I will definitely be following your journey!
I just barely started blogging and I am so happy i did, so that I have the opportunity to follow other peoples journeys as well!
Feel free to follow me back!
This is really a nice and very much informative post.
thanks to share.