Novel Writing can seem like a daunting task. (You're writing a novel? You must be crazy! You'll never finish something that big!) Yeah, your subconscious yells at you like that, doesn't it?
But writing a novel doesn't have to be that scary. It all depends on how you look at it.
Remember your mom (or dad) saying, "Just take one bite of your vegetables" to you when you absolutely didn't want to? Yup, me too. And I rarely gagged on them, even if I didn't like them.
Novel writing can be much like those single bites. It may seem like a lot more than you can manage, but if you take just one bite each day, eventually, you'll find your plate is clean.
No, you won't have it done in a week, or usually even in a month (more on that in a moment), but you will finish, even if you only have bite-size chunks of time to work on your fiction writing each day.
Only have fifteen minutes? Nail down that conversation you thought of. Half-hour? Great. You can write a whole scene. Have a full hour - even two? An entire chapter can be written in an hour.
No. This won't necessarily be the best prose you've ever spouted. This is first draft stuff. This is getting the job done. No matter how small the increment of time you have to devote to it.
So no more excuses. Take every minute you've got to spare, and clean that plate!
As I'm writing this page, 2008's session of National Novel Writing Month is going strong. While I've never participated in this internationally known writing competition (where you write a first draft of a novel in one month), I have written the first draft of a novel in two weeks.
That's right, I said two weeks.
I also said first draft.
No, what I wrote under that much time crunch was not ready to fire off to the publisher. But it was a complete novel that simple poured out of my fingertips because... well, probably because the characters were already familiar to me from the first novel in that series, and the plot to the second novel had been bothering me (read stealing my sleep) for awhile. Once it was fully chewed in my subconscious, I only had to spit it out. (Oooh. Sorry about that.)
That is the only time I've managed to write a complete draft that quickly.
These days my writing tends to happen in fits and starts around running a household and a business, minding my two teenagers are doing what they should be, and reminding my hubby to get to those appointments he had me make for him. But when I know I need something done, I set myself a deadline.
Deadlines can work wonders on your motivation to get things done. You know what I'm talking about. From school days on, that paper was due, that work project was due... those deadlines, even if you procrastinated to the last minute, forced you to get the job done. On time.
So, if you really want to finish your novel, break it down into bites (yeah, still on the food analogy here). Then give yourself a deadline for each of those bites to go down. And make yourself accountable for that deadline with someone else. Otherwise, you may find your noveling falling through the cracks of your busy days.
Don't think you have what it takes to write novels? Check out Tracy Culleton's page about a career in creative writing, and you'll see differently. (Clicking the link will open a new page.)
Good luck in your novel writing. It's time for me to go back to mine!