What No One Tells You About Writing a Novel

I apologize I’ve been a bit MIA lately, but I can assure you I have a good reason. I’m writing a novel!

(If you notice my words come out a bit more flowery and descriptive than usual, this is why).

There are a few things I noticed about the process of writing a novel that I wanted to share with you, so I decided to write a new blog post. I also wanted you to know that I’m still alive, which I think is important.

Anywho, let’s begin:

1. We don’t give authors enough credit.

Seriously! Writing a novel is so much more challenging than anyone ever lets on. It’s not just the words you have to write. It’s also the character development, the plot, and all those weird plot twists. Imagine having to plan out the actions and motivations and thoughts of several different, complex characters over the course of a book, while filling in all gaps, plotting out the back-story, making it believable, and writing a cohesive storyline that moves people, or at the very least entertains them.

It’s super hard! Seriously, the next time you meet an author, thank them for their hard work. It takes a lot of planning. A lot of sticky notes and index cards too…

2. Writing is not a linear thing.

My story came to me as a vision of a single scene. Then another scene appeared that occurs days later in the storyline. After that, a character showed up. And then another one. Then the first character went MIA for a while. Shortly after, the plot twist showed up. And from there, each of the gaps filled in. The back-story started to materialize. I found the motivation of one character and it directly contradicted the motivation of another.

If you ever find yourself writing a novel, don’t fret if the ending of your story appears to you first, or you know there is a major character sitting on the fringes of your mind, afraid to make herself appear to you until she knows you’re committed to telling her story.

Just keep working at it. Write a scene one day, create a plot line the next, work out the back-story the next day, sit on the couch and eat chocolate the next day, and so on.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up too much. Writing is an organic process. And it is totally intuitive. As non-linear as it gets.

3. Don’t overdo it.

When inspiration hits you, by all means, allow yourself to fall into an hours-long flow state of creative awesomeness. But if you wake up one morning and nothing is coming to you, it’s ok. Sometimes you’ll want to push through the block, and that’s fine. More power to you. But sometimes you just have to let yourself be blocked.

A full deep dive into your story during every waking hour will suck the magic right out of your creative process. Creative inspiration comes and goes. Let it flow. It’s natural.

4. Allow your characters to tell you who they are.

My main character hasn’t even revealed her name to me yet. I’ve just been calling her by her title, “Princess.” This teaches me something about her personality. She’s kind of mischievous.

When I first started to try to imagine this character, her image would barely show up in my mind. I had imagined her as a sensitive, quiet, introverted soul.

And then one day, I let her show me who she really was. I saw an image of a scene in the story and she was fierce. Fiery, outgoing, still a nice person but definitely not shy. That’s the exact moment she came to life, and I could finally see what she looked like and where her story would take her.

Your characters, as most authors will tell you, are not yours to create. They are beings with minds and bodies and motivations of their very own. You have to give them permission to show their authentic selves to you (much like you sometimes have to give yourself permission to be authentic in the real world).

Just let them be who they are. They’ll help you write the story. It is their story, after all.

That’s it for now. Hope to report back soon as to how everything is going!

What creative projects are you currently deep diving into? I’d love to hear about them!

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