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Some things I know about writing a novel

Updated on April 9, 2012

That might sound like rather a pretentious title for a hub, and really it is; I'm writing on the pretence of being a novelist, when actually I'm nothing of the sort. I'm just a mum, who daydreams and scribbles. Oh, and I haven't written a novel. That's quite an important point to remember. But I still know some things about the process, and maybe I can add to the list when I make it to the end of the process.

Why, then, am I writing a hub instead of writing a novel? I could stop writing hubs, finish the novel, and then write hubs about what it's really like to write a novel. But would I be allowed to write hubs then? I'd be giving away words for free by writing hubs*, and would my agent-slash-publisher be happy with that? I don't know, because I currently have neither. But I bet they'd frown upon it, so I'd better get the hubs in now, while I'm still able.

*Okay, not totally for free - at a good rate of roughly 68ยข per month.

A limerick, of sorts:

There was a young novelist of virtue,

Whose novels were tiny, but they grew.

She pro-crastin-ated,

The lies she did paint(ed),

She died at the ripe old age of one-hundred-and-thirty-two after having published 397 novels and receiving the Booker Prize 74 years in a row.

And so, without further ado, here are the things that I know about writing novels:

  • It is brilliant (bear with me, I go into more detail than this!)
  • The ideas for novels come from nowhere, dawn on you with no prior warning, just appear in your head as a germ - when you've found one you just know it
  • You might have to begin a few to find the one you're actually going to finish
  • They're rewarding to write, whether you finish them or only write two chapters that you love but that no one else ever reads
  • It's really hard to write a novel, whoever you are, and whatever your other commitments
  • NOT everyone can do it
  • Writing a novel can bring out the child in you - novel-writing is PLAYING!
  • Writing a novel does not happen in mind maps, character profile sheets, synopses, chapter outlines or how-to-write books - it happens in your fingers, as you transfer the words from your mind to the page
  • In the end you just have to sit down and write it
  • A novel can be written in a few months
  • A novel can take years to write
  • It is very difficult to write an original idea, we are so influenced by what we read, subliminally: 'I know, if my character needs water, he can magic it out of the ground ... oh, hang on, that's already been done, Eragon'; 'Ooh, ooh, I know, they could get into the other world by stepping into a wardrobe that's made from the wood of a tree grown in ... oh, Narnia. Already done'
  • Writing a novel is a solitary task, which is why I love it so much
  • But it's good to share words, once you've made them pretty - that's why we hub! Narcissistic, all of us!
  • To write a novel you really need to think that you are brilliant
  • When writing a novel you will spend a large proportion of your time thinking that you are useless
  • The whole process involves contradition
  • The whole process is a contradiction
  • Writing a novel is frustrating
  • Writing a novel is uplifting
  • Writing a novel is tiring
  • Writing a novel is invigorating
  • Novel-writing makes me drink large quantities of tea and eat a lot of biscuits, neither of which I really want to consume, but have to because they're the easiest things to grab at short notice
  • When you have managed to string a few words together into a perfect sentence novel-writing is the best use of time that has ever been invented
  • Inactivity breeds inactivity
  • Productivity breeds productivity
  • Productivity brings on arthritis/RSI/carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Some novelists spend a lot of time Googling
  • Wikipedia is very useful
  • Old encyclopedias are even more useful
  • Novelists can justify spending all of their spare (and not spare) cash on books because it is imperative that novelists read
  • Novels can be written in a messy work area
  • Novels can be written in a tidy work area
  • Several times a year a novelist may consider giving up writing altogether - it's just too hard
  • Most days in a year a novelist will think 'I love writing, I'm going to do it forever'
  • Novelists are procrastinators
  • Novelists like to talk about writing novels
  • Novelists don't all like to bear the same job title - writer, author, or no-title-at-all-because-writing's-a-secret-and-we-won't-tell-anyone-we-do-it-until-we-can-be-sure-that-it's-good-enough
  • I tell EVERYONE that I'm writing novels. They are all disappointed in me for not completing any novels, yet
  • Having young children makes finding time to write very difficult - there, I've said it; I'm not whingeing, it's just a fact

This is all I have for now, but there is much more to say. I will return to this hub!


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