Building a New Novel

Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~ Joseph Heller, American author

Perhaps some of you have noticed I haven’t been around the blogosphere as much lately as I have in previous years.

Maybe some of you have missed me.

Or my musings.

There’s an excellent reason for that.

I’ve been writing.

Working on my novel, what I envision as book two of a mystery series.

I’ve complained before about how hard it is, writing the sophomore novel.

Not that my debut was a screaming success or anything, but I think I gained a lot of experience from that whole process — writing, finding a publisher, marketing, and so forth — and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by my own expectations to do better this time out of the gate.

To learn from my mistakes and those others have cautioned me about.

You know, until you actually start writing “for reals,” you never appreciate the number of How-To books there are on writing.

Topics like: how to get started, how to work through a plot, how to banish procrastination and writer’s block, how to find an agent (whew, LOTS of those!), how to publicize your book, and so on.

Some argue it’s important to get your first draft down. Nobody’s first effort is stellar, they maintain, and that’s what editors are for.

But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I have to be true to myself. And I cringe at jotting down junk. I labor over each word, trying to make sure every sentence says what I mean, with correct grammar and spelling.

Bonus? Less time expended on proofreading!

Still, writing isn’t easy.

It’s not physical labor like construction, or emotional labor like counseling, or mental labor like surgery, but….

Sometimes, it’s all of that.

When I was a working journalist, I’d go to a meeting, return to the office, type up my report, and be done until the next assignment.

Not so with novels! The process is way slower, and it’s easy to get discouraged.

I keep reminding myself that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” (John Heywood, English playwright).

But they were laying bricks every hour so the work was getting done.

Slowly, but steadily.

Like novel-writing.

While I can’t put down words every hour, I can commit to writing every day.

To keep the juices flowing and that pump primed at all times.

So the Muse won’t get exasperated and dance away, never to return!

18 thoughts on “Building a New Novel

  1. I think it’s the “every day” that’s often the biggest stumbling block. Doing anything every day can be a struggle. Most of us get showering and teeth-brushing down pretty early in life, but anyone who’s started any long-term project knows how hard it can be to maintain the necessary discipline.

    I always joke about my muse heading off to Poughkeepsie. As long as our muses don’t end up here, it’s all good!

    • I’m trying to convince myself that “every day” is very akin to when I was a journalist, Linda. I never saw my work then as “work.” In fact, I considered myself blessed to have a job I so loved. And while writing fiction doesn’t exactly pay all the bills — okay, it doesn’t pay any of them! — I do love stringing words together and building a story. So again, I’m blessed. While real life usually finds a way to interfere, I find it rewarding when I wear the captain’s hat!

      • Isn’t that hilarious? I wouldn’t have known about it had it not been for a Weather Underground blogger who lived in Oklahoma. That’s where the town of Muse lies, and, yes — I traveled there just for that photo.

        • Actually, it was part of a week-long trip through Oklahoma and Arkansas. I was feeling autumn foliage-deprived, and scheduled my vacation to try and catch some. I was sort of successful, since I was about a week too early for prime color, but it was great fun.

  2. You have pretty much captured the essence of success, Debbie. Everyday writing. It is a must I can’t tell you why but it seems that when time off is taken there comes a large dry spell. I guess the mental machinery needs to be kept busy or it will freeze up. Super post and best wishes on the next one.

    • John, you set a fine example — thank you! I, too, have found from experience that missing a day once in a great while is not a problem; however, missing a string of days on a regular basis IS. And even if I only get down a few hundred words today, those are words I won’t have to write tomorrow, and they’re words that provide a nice tie-in to the next day’s writing. Thanks for your encouragement!

  3. Glad to hear you’re working hard on book 2! I’m no writer, but as a reader I suspect your approach of trying to polish it a bit as you go is the best one. Sometimes I feel books can read as if the author has bunged it all down and then not been able to work out how to fix the plot holes and continuity problems later, if you know what I mean. Taking your time might sometimes make you feel you’re not getting anywhere fast, but the tortoise always beats the hare in the end! :D

    • Oh, thank you, FF, for reminding me about the tortoise and the hare! Yes, lots of times I feel like a regular slowpoke, especially when I remember how FAST I wrote as a journalist. But you know, it’s lots different telling what really happened as opposed to making stuff up! And I do know what you’re talking about — too many published books seem to have had little to no editing, and we naturally toss the blame at the author. I mean, when you read on Page 3 that a female character has green eyes, yet mysteriously on Page 6 those same eyes are brown, one just has to sigh!

  4. Good for you, Debbie! That’s AWESOME!

    “But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I have to be true to myself.”

    A-men! And although I’m not a professional writer, I can identify with what you said when it comes to my acting technique. After going to school for years and having everyone give me pointers on HOW to act, I finally realized that I had to be true to myself in how approach a role. And once I started doing that, it all came together for me. I work very organically. I try to step aside and remove myself, and in doing so, the role (the character) moves through me.

    Happy to hear that you’ve been inspired lately, and that you’re moving forward with your novel!

    For me, I always feel more creative and inspired in the winter because it causes me to within and connect to my muse. Contrary to how most people feel about winter, I find it to be such a reflective and creative time of the year for me.

    Continued creativity, my friend! xo

    • Thanks so much, Ron, for your encouragement! I knew you’d understand, being another creative type. Outlining is another thing “they” say I’m supposed to be doing, but I’ve long hated outlining and I just can’t force myself to do it.

      Unlike you, I’ve not identified a particular season that’s best for my creativity. I just know I’m at my best when I don’t have a million things on my To-Do List and another million people making demands on me!

      Enjoy the rest of your week, my friend! xx

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