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How to Write a Novel in Six Months: One Writer’s Journey
Most of us who write on a regular basis (and many people who've never used a pencil for more than a grocery list) have the same dream: to write a novel. I'm no different. This fall I'm attempting [again] to write a novel, and this time I've enlisted my entire writing group to join me. As if that weren't enough accountability, I've decided to share the whole experience with HubPages fans, along with anyone else who's interested.
I'll be sharing the ups and downs, tricks that work for me, and resources I'll use along the way in a week-by-week format. Check back here often for new links. This is meant to be a glimpse into my process and I to help you on your own. Wish me luck that maybe come New Year's we'll have a new series called How to Publish a Novel!
My Personal History as a Novelist, or How Not to Write a Novel
I came to the writing life with a bang. One day I was watching Oprah and pouring Cheerios on a high chair tray and the next I was plotting out the next biggest thing. I exploded into writing trying every exercise, reading every book, and of course I jumped right into my first novel. One thing you have to learn if you want to reconcile your yearning to write and your sanity is that writing is a very personal and time consuming process. Not only are there no short cuts, but no one writer's process works for everyone. For me, the writing life has been full of trial and error, stops and starts, and wild fluctuations in confidence and self-esteem.
That first pass at a novel was fueled by a wonderful book called The Marshall Plan, which takes you through a very structured and analytical approach to planning out a novel. The accountant in me loved every bit of it, especially the part where I created spreadsheets to track my the detaila of my scenes. I still think Mr. Marshall has an amazing plan. The problem was I hadn't gotten my fingers limbered up enough to benefit from all the information. Novel number one was abandoned after only a few scenes.
Yes, You Need a Plot
My second foray into noveling (yes, I do make up words) was inspired by Chris Baty's November Nanowrimo and the book, No Plot, No Problem. No offense to Mr. Baty, but not having a plot is actually a very serious problem IF you want another person to read your novel. In fact, the plotless novel I wrote was not only unreadable to anyone else, but fairly painful to read back to myself. It's especially disturbing to come upon a scene starring the town football star I'd killed off a couple of chapters back. Oops.
However misguided I was during the writing of that work, I'm so thankful for it. It gave me the confidence that I could create scenes and characters, and more importantly, that I could type the number of consecutive words it takes to fill a book. That, plus I have a two-inch stack of paper on my shelf that somehow qualifies me to call myself a writer and playdates and cocktail parties. This method is amazing for freeing you up to put words on paper. I would recommend this method in a heartbeat. I just won't personally do it again.
Finding My Way
Now it is five and a half years after that first attempt, and nearly two past the second. I've written like crazy and read every book I could find. If I'm successful, you'll have an inspirational story to bolster your own writing journey. If I fail, you'll be here to witness it all the way through. What could be more fun?
If the links below are not live, it's because I haven't written them yet. Check back for weekly updates!