What I learned From Writing A Novel

"I've got this great idea for a book... you should write it."

Early on in my infancy as a writer, I heard this a lot from a past co-worker. He would tell me repeatedly about his ideas. He'd insist that I could write it for him like I was some crazy human word processer. I mean, sure, I'm calling myself a writer and stories are my life. But as I explained that I was wrapped up in my current project and that he should do it himself he would throw up his hands and walk away.

Seriously, there is nothing to this writing thing:

  • You've got this guy
  • He has this goal.
  • Everyone is fucking it up for him
  • He fights tooth and nail to the bitter end
  • He wins!
Game over. Story complete. Agents are drooling. Presses are pumping. Stephen King is no longer the reigning king. But it doesn't work that way. It's more than "you've got this guy". There is so much more to the novel thing then I ever expected.


First and foremost, you need an idea. A strong idea. A passionate idea that grips your soul and won't quiet until you've rung every last ounce of juice out of it. Let's be honest: if you didn't truly love your story then it will reflect on every page. Writers fill their stories with deep seeded passions and just ghosting someone else's tale my be lucrative but will lack that demon seed festering within, breaching the surface to bask in the reader's glow.

Ideas are easy but finding one that is potent and powerful to you as a writer can be a real challenge.


Here's the part where you practice the ass-in-chair method of your calling. Nothing gets a story written other than firmly planting your butt in front of a computer and hammering out each and every word. Sometimes the words flow. Sometimes they stutter and fail you. Regardless, you can't hope to complete the story without putting it on paper/disk/stone tablet.

Some writers set up words per day goals. Some set aside a time and stick to it religiously. Some steal 15 minutes and scribble as fast as they can. It doesn't matter as long as you write, write, and write.

So now the story is done. You've crafted the idea and put it on paper. Now it's time to pop the bubbly... right? Not even close.


Now it's time for the edits. Countless hours spent cleaning up typos, checking grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Do the sentences flow? Do they run on and beat a dead horse? Do the following sentences continue to beat that horse? Did you find a word jammed in the middle of a sentence that slipped in during a feverish typingfest? And after all of that you've got beta readers, revisions, more editing... does the madness ever end?

No. There is so much more. I've just chipped the tip of a creeping iceberg. Writing a novel enters you - the Author - into a realm beyond "I've got this great idea for a book". Though don't expect to strike it rich because this is a labor of love. It can be engrossing, challenging, nerve-racking, and damned rewarding. The hours are long. The nights are restless.

So if I ever see that guy with the real good idea for a story again I'll tell him, "Congratulations. Call me in a couple of months when you're done and maybe we can trade stories for a beta read."


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