You’re writing a novel. Some days you’re exhilarated, and on rare days you’re in the depths of despair. You don’t know whether you’re doing anything right. You’re sure you’re making lots of mistakes.
The things no one tells you about writing a novel
When I wrote my first novel, I can remember thinking about something or other: I wish someone had told me! Very soon I realized that there are many things that no one can tell you. You need to discover them for yourself. I suspect that the things are different for every person, because writing your novel will change you.
Here are some of the things you may wish that someone had told you. 🙂
1. You can do it – you can write your novel, no matter how many people tell you that you can’t
When you’re writing a novel, and you tell people about it, you’re hoping for encouragement. Some people, bless them, will cheer you on. Others… will not.
Your family and friends will have opinions. If these opinions make you unhappy, keep telling yourself that everyone is entitled to their opinion. And those opinions are often wrong.
2. The story you write won’t match the story in your head
This is inevitable. No matter how much preparation and outlining you do, the story you write will be different from the story that you initially imagined.
Every day is a new day. You’ve learned something new from the writing you did yesterday. When the chapters pile up, you learn new skills, and your writing improves.
Sometimes it doesn’t improve – you think your writing is horrible. On some days you will hate your novel. That’s okay too. Stick it out until you break through the “I HATE this” barrier, because on the other side of your despair is elation.
3. You will give up, then you’ll start writing again
You may give up on your novel, once, or several times. You’ll start writing again when you realize that you’re happier writing, than you are not writing.
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After you’ve written several novels, you won’t give up on your current novel. On any given day, you may not be pleased with the progress you’re making, but you’ll know from experience that you’re probably wrong, and that your writing is just fine.
Few writers are a good judges of their writing.
4. You’ll hate your editor, but you’ll revise anyway
When you receive editorial queries and notes from your editor, you’ll hate your editor for two days. You won’t want to do any revisions. Your emotions will range from shock through to disappointment, and then you’ll start to feel angry. It usually takes about two days for your emotional equilibrium to be restored.
On the third day, you’ll start revising your novel.
5. You’ll become philosophical
When you finish a novel, and start your next novel, you’ll realize you’re a different person now.
After your novel is published, you’ll look back on what you thought were disasters, and you’ll realize that no disaster was as bad as you imagined it would be.
If your novel sadly makes few sales, you’ll realize that that’s OK. You learned a lot, and you will succeed.
On the other hand, when your novel is a huge success, you’ll come to understand that no success lasts forever — the exhilaration you receive from your achievement doesn’t last. (And that’s disappointing.)
Most importantly of all, you’ll realize that past failures and successes won’t help you to write the novel you’re writing now.
Every novel you write is different, it has to be that way. You’re a different person every time you sit down to write.
The journey really is the destination. When you’ve written several novels, you’ll know that you’re much happier when you’re working on a novel, and that the novel’s success or failure isn’t as important as the fun you have while writing. You’ll know that if you have a bad writing day, there are good writing days in your future. 🙂