- Books, Literature, and Writing
How to Write a Novel and Find the Voice Within
How I know I'm a Writer
Hello. My name is Dohn and I am a writer. No one ever told me that I was a writer (thank God) and no one ever had to. How I became a writer was a conscious decision I made on my part and not from some higher-ranking officer because I had some how earned the privilege. No, I am a writer because I write. Perhaps it's like being in love or being in pain. No one can tell you any different. If you are indeed in love then you will know it. If you are in pain then you will know that too. No one can ever tell you that you're not. Only you will know and no one else.
I've been writing for a long time now. It's been twenty years and counting since I first began writing as a method of expression and that is why I feel I've earned the right to write a hub about writing. Back when I was an adolescent, just when my body was changing, I began to think more deeply into things. My emotions were stronger and my senses became heightened. I became much more aware of the pressence of opposite sex and shortly thereafter, imminent heartbreak. And then came the feelings of despair. Despair from loneliness. Despair from being rejected. And then there were other things that began to deeply affect me, like not being popular. Those were just some of the things that began gnawing on my mind. At such times, I felt that something was inherently wrong with me. I sometimes shared my thoughts with some of my friends but it just wasn't enough. My family wasn't rich and we wouldn't have been able to afford a shrink, so I didn't even bother asking. Besides, had I requested a shrink, it would have raised more questions and so have an adverse effect. And then one day, it just happened. With pen in hand, I began writing haikus and poetry. I then read a book titled, "Becoming a Writer" by Dorothea Brande and was engrossed by it . But one of the things that this book taught me was the value of keeping a journal. That was when I really began to write and began takeing writing seriously.
What I wrote
I began writing about my pain and despair. I wrote very fast and in cursive and wrote anything and everything that came to mind, slowly drawing out the poison that was fast trying to kill me. It was like everyday I was being bitten by an invisible snake and so had to draw-out the poison from within. That was how it all started. I didn't care about spelling or grammar. I wrote until the pain in both my heart and mind was gone, sometimes for two hours at a time. Sometimes my hand would hurt so much I would have to stop to momentarily massage it. It became a habit and good one at that, because I began to feel much better each time I logged in an entry. I began to hear myself in my mind. I began to hear my voice that became clear like a bell slowly tolling away getting closer and closer. The book I read stated that if I kept up my journal writing consistently on a daily basis for six months that I could do it for the rest of my life. I stand as a testament to that. By the time I graduated high school and left for college, I had over thirty 5-subject CVS spiral notebooks that were each 200 pages long and double-sided filled with entries. On occassion, I'll flip through them and find some valuable story ideas. As an added incentive for my hard work in keeping a journal, I accumulated a invaluable resource for my writing.
Be Ready For Success
Many of us dream of writing that oh-so-coveted NOVEL. So when the time came to write a novel, I was ready at the helm. My novel writing professor told the class that the bare minimum required to write a novel consistently was 500 words a day. At first when I was told this, I wasn't at all overwhelmed. Why? Because by then, I was easily writing over 1,000 words a day when I was keeping a journal! By the end of the semester, I was the only student that kept up with the professor's regiment of 500 words a day everyday, including weekends, birthdays, holidays and inclimate weather and blackouts. At the beginning of the semester the class was a whopping 25 students. By the end of the semester, it shrunk down to 5 students, me included. Three-quarters of the first draft of my novel was complete. I was well on my way to completing my novel in a total of 6 months, just as I had planned.
You know what? Rome wasn't built in a day (who hasn't heard that? Please file under CLICHE) No overweight couch potato ever wakes up one one morning and says to himself, "I think I'll run a marathon today!" So why in the world would anyone think or say the same thing when it comes to writing a novel? I'm sure you heard the cliche that certain things in life are not sprints but marathons. No, these things take time. If you really are serious about running in a marathon, you better jog five miles a day every day for six months straight to ready your body for that big day when you have to run 26 miles. In those 26 miles, your body is going to take a pounding, so you better be ready.
So maybe that couch potato gets a shot of inspiration and so wipes the cheez doodle dust from the corners of his mouth and maybe does a stretch or two and then goes out onto the road and actually begins to jog. By the time he gets to the big blue mailbox at the corner of Bad Idea Lane and Reality Check Road, he's out of breath and about to collapse from exhaustion. His tongue is like seaweed paper, his kidneys ache, and something in his knee, which seemed fine just a moment before, suddenly smarts. Defeated, he realizes that he's not cut out for this sort of thing and so turns to go home...
This is exactly why most novels fail...They never get the chance to get completed in the first place because the person writing it wasn't prepared. Their intentions were good, but they simply lacked the fitness to write a novel.
Getting in Shape
One last thing that I want to suggest is that you read. READ READ READ Read everything you can get your sticky, greedy hands on, especially material that you are working on. Read good books and bad books and know the difference between the two. So if you want to wirte a courtroom drama, you better know your Grisham and if you want to write mysteries, Agatha Christie is Queen (Get it? Knee slap please). A book that I highly recommend is Stephen King's (yes, Stephen King the scary guy) "On Writing." The book has given me invaluable advice on the craft of writing, the submission and publication process, and the daily grind of writing. Read it and you'll see why.
In addition to Stephen King's On Writing and Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer, I've included Strunk and White's Elements of Style and Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. All four books have helped and worked for me. In addition, I also recommend Write Now! by Shelly Ellis which most collegiate writing classes recommend and as an added bonus, I added Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul by Jack Canfield which is an inspiring read from great writers. Each one of these books have helped to improve my writing. Hopefully, they'll do the same for you. I hope that my hub helped you in your endeavors and I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to take advice from a novice like me. Please check out some of my works. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Happy writing everybody!
More Advice For Writers
- A Writer's Essentials: The Things I Cannot Do Withou...
Robot-Inspired Flash Drive Over the years, a couple of people have asked me,
- Write a 55-Word Story
The widely popular literary journal Roanoke Review is holding a short-story contest this month! The first place prize is $1,000 and the second place prize is $500 for a story up to 6,000 words which means a...
- Why I Write: A Reflection
Having reached my 49th Hub and completing the 30/30 Hubchallenge, I thought about maybe taking a week off or so, basking in the satisfaction of a job well done and just laying myself off on...