Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Write and Finish Your Novel in 2010

"Everything you ever wanted - personally and professionally - is 2 or 3 steps beyond your comfort zone." -Andy Andrews

Everyone has a story to tell. I believe that. So, based on that belief, I’m writing to encourage you to tell your story. With today being near the end of March, I’m laying out a plan to help you figure out how to write and finish your very own novel by the end of 2010, roughly 275 days away.
I wrote a very similar post in February of last year ... and I heard from a lot of people. Since I'm working on polishing my novel, I thought I'd post on the same topic again, for 2010.

Why, you ask, should I think I can write a novel before the end of the year?

Great question. Two years ago at a writer’s festival, I listened to a man speak about how his novel had taken him over ten years to complete. Every fall, the NaNoWriMo phenomenon goes on, or National Novel Writing Month, where writers complete an entire novel in one month. If we take a middle ground somewhere between the two, I’m guessing nine months to complete a first-draft of a novel might be just about right.

photo of William Faulkner's writing space

Here’s the plan:

Since a full-length novel falls somewhere near 80,000 words, 275 days will provide plenty of time to write at a leisurely pace.

In my experience, writing 500 words per hour is very doable (1000 words per hour is also doable for some). With only one hour spent per day (500 words), nearly two novels could be written in the remainder of the year (150,000 words in 300 days). So, if you factor in taking a day off on the weekend and a few days for holidays and sick days, an 80,000 word novel can be written in the remainder of 2010 with extra time to spare. What to do with extra time? Revision and editing are always a great use of time after the novel is done. In fact, rewriting and editing and revision are what I'm doing right now on my own novel.
Hopefully, by now, I’ve convinced you that you can finish your novel in 2010. But I’m sure you have a couple more reservations. A novel is a big undertaking, after all.

Why write?

For me, I’ve found writing to be an amazing cathartic experience, therapeutic in profound ways. I am a better and more complete person by writing. Story is a powerful connector in the world, and there is no better way to engage in story than in your own novel.

When can I find time to write?

Easy—the hour watching television or surfing the web, instead write. Or the hour before everyone else wakes in the morning. Or the hour when everyone is at school. Or the hour after dinner. Just one hour is all you need.

What do I write?

Well, I would start by thinking what it is you like to read, and even reflect on shows you like to watch. Thriller? Romance? Literary?

How do I know the proper format, margins, etc? Since many books are devoted to this question, I’ll start by pointing to some I think are very helpful. The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, Novel Idea by Angela Hunt, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, and my personal favorite Stein on Writing by Sol Stein along with his How to Grow a Novel.

See? It can be done.But in my experience, the ONE THING that will enable or prevent you from finishing your novel in 2010 is discipline.The most grueling thing I face in writing each day is just that—writing each day. No matter how comfy the chair I choose, I find it almost impossible to put my bottom in it. No matter how sleek and powerful the computer, I find it tough every day to place my fingers on its keyboard. No matter how simply the clock says it’s time to write, my whole will pushes back and says it’s time to do other things.


Writing is hard work.

BUT, if you are one of those adventurous people who says Just Do It … I know without question that you CAN do it. To close, here are some of the benefits I’ve found from the discipline of writing each day.

1. The biggest advantage to writing each day is that the story stays fresh. The writing flows, and continues to flow day after day by writing (even a little—500 words) each day.

2. Like heading to bed at a similar time each night, writing at a similar time each day can be beneficial. The body knows what to expect. The mind comes ready to write, and the flow is easier.

3. The story becomes a place to look forward to going each day, if only for an hour.

4. The routine lends itself to the others in your life respecting your time to write. Distractions are always plentiful, and my house certainly has a constant list of more things to do, but with a routine hour set aside each day, writing becomes a priority.

Go ahead, start thinking today about your novel, and plan to start. You CAN write and finish your novel in 2010.

Questions or extra thoughts? I’d love to hear them—post in the comments section below.

And of course, I’d love to hear about your journey along the way to finishing your novel. You can contact me directly at http://www.jenniferlynking.com/ on the Contact page.



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