Friday, September 15, 2006

Writing a novel

I'm back, and I'm getting right back into it without any small talk - writing a novel.

What's your biggest obstacle in writing a novel? When writing a novel?
Mine has almost always been word count. That is, getting to the 100,000 or so words. Finishing the darn thing. I've done it, but it always was the biggest struggle.

Why am I mentioning this? Why now? Because I've just realized that I've actually written a novel length amount of words in the past three months. Three months! But it wasn't a novel.

Never mind. I wrote five days a week, a few hours a day and managed to produce around 100,000 words. Ha! All because I had to. Because I had deadlines. Because it's been my freaking job!

So what's the trick? How can I apply that to my fiction writing? Well, that's an easy answer, isn't it? It is something we all know the answer to even if we pretend we don't. Discipline. Treating writing as work. Making oneself write.

I have a good writer friend that might disagree with me, and I used to think the same way, but now I think I've changed my mind again.

In any event, I'll tell you in three months if I managed to apply this lesson to my fiction writing. Meanwhile, I was wondering, is that really the most common obstacle among novel writers?

Now, if I feel like it, I might tell you what I was up to the past couple of weeks. Might even include a picture or two! Depending on how quiet my weekend is and how much time I have left after cleaning the house. Plus, I really miss you all and desperately want to visit you :)

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redchurch said...

The hardest thing for me is getting scenes that I am happy with, and putting them in an order I'm happy with.

Writing is secondary to that, because if I'm not happy with the scenes or the arrangement then I will write 10 drafts in vain. I like writing, but not THAT much!

rdl said...

I was so happy to see that little asterik after your name this morning on my blogroll. I actually was thinking about you this morning before I got up and was thinking of mailing you, now i don't have to. You sound fine, like the ole Melly. :)

fred charles said...

My biggest obstacle, frankly, is me. I procrastinate like crazy. If I could just get into a solid routine, I would be okay but something always seems to "come up" and prevent me from writing.

Melly said...

Eric, I'm not sure what you meant. Do you mean the "content" of the scene? Plotting? Or am I way off base here?

rdl, honey, thanks so much. It's nice to know I have peopel who keep tabs on me out there :)

Fred, that's exactly what I was trying to get at. From a different place perhaps, but the same result. And now, that I had to, I seemed to have found the time to write, not fiction, but I wish I could do the same with fiction.

Hey, good to hear from you all :) :) :)

Deborah said...

I write every day, but it's not always my novel. Most of the time, the paying jobs (writing and otherwise) come first. Other times, it's the procrastination battle.

I'm glad you're back, Melly. I checked out your other blog and was relieved to find you writing on there. You've been busy! :) What genre is your novel?

still looking for the horizon said...

hey , im a 14 year old girl who wishes to become a writer and I happen to hav e started a blog of my writing today, if your interested...
well, just check it out if you want to!

jack said...

I find reaching the word count relatively easy. It's sorting the words out once they're on the page that's difficult for me. ;)

Kathleen Bolton said...

400 ms pages ain't the problem for's getting to 400 pages that are decent. :-(

Melly said...

Deborah, I've been busy indeed :)
The latest novel I've just started is mainstream. I can't even believe it myself, but it is.

still looking, I'll try to come over and take a look soon. It's great that you want to be a writer. Good luck!

Oh, Jack. The sorting. Or should I say editing? Or is it not a word to be mentioned? ;)

Kathleen, decent? Well, who cares about that really?! (Just kiddin' of course :)

redchurch said...

Mel said,

"Eric, I'm not sure what you meant. Do you mean the "content" of the scene? Plotting? Or am I way off base here?"

Both the events (plot, I guess) and the emotional conflict between the characterss or their environment.

Each scene must have a thesis, if you want to call it that. And each of those build to form the meta-thesis of the overall story.

If a scene doesn't have a point, or doesn't contribute to the overall story, it's a waste of both my time as the writer, and the time of the reader if I were to let that kind of fluffy, meandering nonsense fill my story.

It's hard to create in a way that only results in pure content, and no fluff or filler. To me that's the hardest aspect of storytelling.

Melly said...

I totally understand. I deleted more than 5 chapters on my last novel. They were "good writing," I think, but didn't advance the plot. At all!
So yeah.

michaelm said...

I think Woody Allen said that sometimes the secret of success is just showing up. I like to think that works with my writing.
Cool on the novel. I'm in the middle of my memoir.
I'm looking at @70,000 words.
So far I'm only up to @22,000. Sheesh, I've got a long way to go.
Great to see you back posting as the old Melly.
Though I'm thinking you've changed a bit since going through your latest ordeal.
Hope it all works out.



Melly said...

Memoirs? How cool is that!
And you're right, or Woody was right - showing up. I'm not sure I always do, but it sounds to me like you do.

And thanks Michael.
I was wondering, how is it that you think I've changed? You can email me if this conversation is too personal :)

Nienke said...

A big obstacle for me is that I'm tired of writing by the end of the day because I write all day for a living. However, I'm also plagued by the 'fear.' That, being the fear of not being good enough. I think that's a big one for many writers, although I'm not sure they even realize it.

Which brings us back to the topic of writers block. Self-inflicted I guess. (I know you don't believe in it...)

Edie said...

nienke, oh boy, can i relate... ...never quite feels like i'm good enough.

Glad you're back Melly.

Melly said...

Ah, Nienke, The Fear. The beast everyone talks about, but no one ever really talks about. It's so personal. I relate! More than you know.

Edie, good to see you :)
We can all relate to that, unfortunately. I wonder if it ever goes away, even if you're a successful writer...

Edge said...

Believe me, writing 100,000 words is the easy part!! Once you've achieved that goal, then that's when the real writing starts: writing is re-writing! The re-writing stage is where the story is actually written, and this is why a lot of amateur writer's don't make it - you have to shrug off laziness and embrace persistence, that' the ultimate goal.

Rob said...

Actually, the hardest part for me is keeping the novel under 150,000 words! I have so much plot thought out for most of my novels that it ends up being far too long! Also, if you procrastinate a lot, the re-writing stage is the most difficult step in the writing process.