The Daunting Task of a Novel

NanoWriMo is an really fun way to get a novel started and hopefully finished… in a month. The National Novel Writing Month started in 1999  with 21 participants and last year 36,843 writers participated. “Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.”  It’s almost that time of year again. It begins November 1st and you have to have 50,000 words completed by midnight on November 30th. If you make your 50,000 word count you’re considered a winner and winners get all types of treats, including a printed book of your novel. This way you really engage in the fun part of writing and leave all the edits and second guessing for later. Your story is completely secure. You upload it once you’re all finished and their computer verifies the word count before it’s deleted out of their system. And voila, total bragging rights.  I’m doing it and you should to!

Novels are tough. Primarily because of the major time and psychological commitment they require, these things are just… tough. I’ve been working on one novel for what seems like forever. I mean, I’ve come back to it several times over the past few years but have not dedicated the time it really requires. I always promise that I’ll award myself with at least one full writing day each week but that never happens so my little treasure remains unfinished and the years continue to pass by.

Another painful thing that happens – I come up with new ideas, new stories, and new characters constantly. It is as if every time I open my eyes there is another story to be told. So, sometimes I will play them out in short stories, many times I will write synopses so I do not forget, but then there are other times where I will spit 3-4 chapters out of nowhere. Herein lies another problem, I now have 4 novels that I have started and not finished. The fact that they exist is more stressful than anything. It’s like, I sit down to write and then have to decide which character I want to be, what world I want to jump into.

My novel of focus, which I think defines me most as a writer is “He’s in the Walls.” It sounds familiar because I’ve published a short story under the same name, same story actually but it started off as a novel. In my first fiction writing class I really wanted to share this story so I adapted the novel to a short story and by the time senior year came along our final assignment was to revisit a previous work. So, I dusted off that little short story, reworked it and submitted it for publication. And voila, it was published.

But, I feel extremely attached to this story. Every time I go back and reread the chapters I’ve written I am reminded of why I love to write. That being said, just don’t do that. Don’t go back and reread what you’ve written until you’ve finished. It really slows down the process because you will naturally begin to edit or refocus and decide to bring your characters down completely different paths. I’ve done that far too many times. I’ve also lost the entire thing twice and have had to start over.

Anyway, I’m going to do this. I just started another novel a few weeks ago. I laid it out, don’t really know where it’s going to take me and I’ve only written a couple of pages so I’ll use this story for NanoWriMo. I think I need this type of push. And really recommend it to anyone that has trouble staying on the writing track.

You know, I haven’t jumped into the process of submitting a novel to be published so it’s not like I have some editor breathing down my back. Hopefully this contest will be the much needed motivation to finish. I’ll post more about the story as I write it. I’ve learned that sharing the writing process can actually help with the writing process. If you’re participating in NanoWriMo let me know. Strength comes in numbers… or support anyway. So, if you’ve ever though about possibly writing a novel, 50,000 words is a pretty short one…aka a good start!

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