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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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    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I've just bought another book for writing lists!


      I've just had to buy another bookcase :/

    • literatelibran profile image

      literatelibran 5 years ago from Williamsburg, Virginia

      Novelists can justify spending all their cash on books- love it!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      Ahh a fellow budding novelist. If only writing the novel went as easily as writing lists about writing novels then perhaps we'd both be bestselling authors. Love your writing style, so personal and humorous.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I'll add that to the list, because it's quite true. Thanks Will :)

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Short stories are fun to write, but novels require real dedication and discipline.