So, you still want to write a novel after yesterday, when we talked about the good stuff? Writing is a novel is definitely a wonderful, positive, fruitful, and worthwhile experience. Bit it’s not all fun and games. It’s not at all. There are lots of negative aspects you should be prepared to confront, such as:
- LONELINESS. Writing is solitary venture. It takes hours and hours of your time, time you could be spending socializing. And what’s worse–you’ll long, with all your heart, to discuss your work-in-progress with those you love, and you, well, can’t. They haven’t read it. They won’t know who your characters are, they won’t know what’s going on in your head where the story’s concerned, and they wont’ be able to give you pin-pointed advice about what has you stuck. You are, in every meaningful sense, on your own. Sure, there are forums and such to discuss these issues and fellow writers can sympathize, but you can’t share your novel with the people there. Your novel, while you’re writing it, is yours and yours alone. Be prepared to confront this, and make sure you don’t get so sucked into art that you forget to live.
- YOU MAY FEEL SO OVERWHELMED YOU WANT TO SCREAM OR CRY. PERHAPS BOTH. AT ONCE. (Writing may cause increased anxiety.) A novel is a huge, huge project. It’s ginormous. You have a major plot, subplots, main and minor characters and their backstories, limitations imposed by your narration’s point of view, and more, all screaming at you, “Look at me. Deal with me. Look at me, loser!!!” And they’re all screaming simultaneously. You want to write a scene, but: where’s it heading? How can this all end? Is it opening up another plot tangle you’re just going to have to unravel? Why is this one character–who’s not even in the scene you need to write–being so dang difficult????? It’s exhausting. And it can be enough to make you consider throwing in the towel. DON’T. Read this instead, about narrowing and focusing your vision, taking one issue at a time.
- YOUR CONFIDENCE MAY FALL THROUGH THE FLOOR. “Why am I doing this? What was I thinking, trying to write a novel? I can’t write. I don’t have the skills for this. I’m not organized enough. I can’t get my thoughts together. My grammar sucks. My dialogue is terrible, and everything is just…. it’s so overdone! It’s like I took a whole bunch of cliches and stereotypes, threw them in a blender, and this mess came out. It’s droll. Dribble. More of a joke than the worst tv-movie ever made. I’m just wasting my time. I don’t have this in me. I’m a miserable excuse of a failure.” You will think such things. Do whatever you can to ignore them and keep writing. Like Dory the fish in “Finding Nemo,”
give it upjust keep swimming. Even if you finish a novel and it’s never, ever going to see the light of day, you know what? You will have proven the nagging doubts false. You finished. Regardless of its quality, you wrote a novel. And now you can edit it or write something else, avoiding the mistakes that make the first one problematic. You are on your way. This is the process. This is how it works for everyone. You are neither above nor below it. Accept it and embrace it. Because YOU, my friend, are a writer.