Writing a novel is an exciting adventure because what you create lies within you. You are the master of your story, you can visit your story anytime you want, and you can mold it to your liking. That having been said, it is a learning experience. I spent 20 years writing my first novel. In that 20 years not only did I write my book, but I learned how to do it and all while experiencing set backs. Now, some of you reading this might be thinking, “Wow, 20 years”, or “Why so long”.
I took my time with it, and I took time off at various points in time. At one time I scrapped it all together because I had written a large chunk only for it to get deleted somehow. I vowed never to go back to it. A friend of mine begged to differ with me on that and told me I would finish it one day. “Ha,” I said. “Not likely.” Well, I was wrong. I did go back to it but only after learning more about story structure. If you take a peek at the Books page on this blog you will see a link to a book that helped me tremendously. I highly recommend it. Once I read this book my novel crept its way back into my brain and kept poking me. My characters stood there with their hands on their hips giving me a look of impatience. They had a story they were dying to be a part of. Soon the ideas began to flow again. Visuals played out in my head and before long it was anything goes.
Then I stopped again and took time off from it but not permanently this time. The story still sat in my mind. It was part of my everyday life in that I would take issues, scenery, pictures, situations (good or bad) snippets of dialogue I over heard and other aspects of real life and used it for ideas. I created a binder and a journal with sections in each and wrote all of my ideas down. Yes, there is a mountain of information in them I didn’t use, but I still have those ideas, and I am able to use them in future books.
Along the way though, life kicks in sometimes and throws mud at you, so you have to take time off. However, it’s how you work with these situations that makes all the difference. The important thing is to learn from them. USE them if you can because you never know how they can help. I think the death of a loved one is one of the biggest moments in life that causes us to take pause. Maybe it’s not necessarily someone in your own family; it could also be the death of a member of a friend’s family. Here again, write, and write some more. Your emotions regarding these situations can enrich your written words in so many ways.
Does every novel you write have to take as long as 20 years to finish? Absolutely not, because once you get your ‘rhythm’, you get in that groove, but you have to write everyday, or you run the risk of losing your readership. Above all else, have fun with it and stay close to those who encourage you. The journey is exhilarating.