On Monday, I began this series on prepping to write a novel. In the first post, I talked about the tools you'll need to get going, and if you head on over to that post you can get caught up. In today's post, I'm going to talk about the idea and the process–what to expect and how to schedule it.
It is important, when writing a novel, to consider that you're going to be with this baby for quite a long while. Not quite as long as it takes to read a human child from birth to maturity, though it may seem like that. But still, you're going to be working with this material for a long time So make sure you like it. I wrote a whole long post on this very topic last week, and its probably a good idea if you take a minute and go read it.
So now that you've committed to an idea that you love (or even just like), what next? Well, that's the topic of this series, what you do to get ready to write a novel (or a book). But before we get to character, setting, plot and writing the rough draft, I want to talk briefly about process and scheduling.
The Writing Process
It's really very simple. Your first draft is for you to figure out the story, okay? It is not for you to make things perfect. It is for you to get a rough semblance of the plot and characters down on paper. Don't worry yet about how best to present it to the reader, or how to dramatize it How can you do that when you're still figuring out the story?
Whether or not you want to write up an outline is your choice. I recommend it because it keeps you on track. Doesn't have to be a fancy outline, even a rough list will do. This way you save room for serendipity and the stray walk-on character. You may also want to write a synopsis, which is like a fleshed-out, grown-up outline. I don't. But some people do. Once you've got your outline written and done all the prep work it takes to get going on a novel, that's exactly what you do. Get going on it.
I've written about the writing process here before, and even recently. Here's some of those posts:
The Writing Process According to Novelist Gabrielle Kraft
The Writing Process: Letting Go
The Writing Process
The Writing Process Redux
The Writing Process Again
The Writing Process: The Three P's of Glumping
That ought to keep you going for awhile. And so now we turn to scheduling. Or, what to expect when you're trying to write a novel and life gets it the way.
Scheduling/What to Expect
My best advice for scheduling a long writing project is to be as regular as you can, and stay flexible. In a perfect world, which none of us live in, it is best to write every day. If you can't, at least glance at your work, read it, or take some notes on it. If you can't do that, think about it. Direct your mind to it while you're walking or cleaning the house. (Or in a boring meeting, but don't blame it on me if you get caught.) You will be interuppted just when you're getting to the apex of a scene. This will happen more times than you can count. You will have to skip a writing session when your child or spouse gets sick. This will also happen more times than you can count.
Here's what else you can expect:
And probably a few more I've not thought of. Notice, however, I did not mention the word boredom. Because when you're writing a novel, you'll never be bored. I think that's true of being a writer, period, as well.
You can also expect to be damn proud of yourself when you're finished with this project. And to have a healthy respect for even the crappiest of books you might see in the bookstore or library. Because now you know what it takes to write a book.
But that moment is still far in the future. We've still got some prepping to do. And I shall move onto that in the next post.
Please comment on all this. What do you do to prepare? What have you learned from writing a novel or book-length process?
Create a successful, inspired writing life: Make certain you've got an idea that intrigues and delights you and write a loose outline. Okay, okay you can do a synopsis, too.
I'm putting together either a one-on-one coaching package or a group program around this novel prep, so stay tuned!
Photos by Mai05 and Creactions, both from Everystockphoto.
PS. Sorry for the weird type font changes. No matter what I do, I can't get them back to normal. Typepad is a bit wonky these days.