Writing the damn novel

9 February, 2010

I haven’t really blogged anything about writing so far, despite the blog’s subtitle. It’s probably because I’m “chicken-shit”.

I started a novel over the Christmas holiday, managed to get five chapters done, but, now I’m back at work, I’m writing virtually nothing. I could write if I didn’t have to work, but the fact is I DO have to work. I’d like to be a full-time writer so I wouldn’t have to do anything but write, but to get there is the tricky part. I have to write salable novels while I’m still working. And I can’t expect finishing one novel to set me free – I have to figure out how to write while working for maybe the next five years (at least), after which hopefully I can quit my job and write full-time.

I figured out part of my problem the other night. One reason I haven’t been writing is that it’s not something you can just turn on when you sit down at the keyboard. You have to keep your enthusiasm for the whole thing, and by “the whole thing” I mean the details of the story, not just general “I want to finish the novel” sentiments. So you have to keep the whole story in mind constantly, always going over the details and how the characters will act in all the different scenes. Obviously this is something that is much easier to do for a short story than a novel. But fuck it, I’m writing a novel, so I have to figure a way to keep the details of the novel in the front of my mind continually.

I’ve tried writing while at work – that is, I’ve got my Word files at work, and have come in planning to do some writing, but somehow never done anything. It’s partly because I’m under observation at work, by my boss, which makes me self-conscious and prevents the unselfconscious relaxation necessary to write. It’s also just that I’ve never written at work, so the situation is very unfamiliar. It’s also because my workspace at work is ironically not very comfortable for working: the desk is too high and too small, and the lights are too bright.

Tonight, when I get home, I’m going to get out my novel plan and just read it. No pressure to actually get words down, but just get the shape of the whole thing back inside my head, where it belongs! Wish me luck.

I’ll write a bit more about the specifics of my novel in my next post.


3 Responses to “Writing the damn novel”

  1. Maybe you need to not try to keep the whole thing in mind but simply think about the scene and the moment you are trying to capture. Have the plan so you know where that scene fits with the rest later but just worry about that one scene. Later you may need to alter it to fit other details of the story but that is fairly easy to smooth out once the scenes are written.
    Just a suggestion.

  2. eyeresist Says:

    Thank you for commenting, but I think you misunderstand my problem. The problem is (1) inspiration, and (2) motivation. From what I’ve read, professional authors are obsessive-compulsive types. How else could they write novels of 100,000 words or more? An obsessive-compulsive is always doing their thing because they are always thinking about that same thing, and are compelled to act on that thought. My theory is that the way to become a novelist is to cultivate that compulsive-obsessive condition. That’s what my post was about. How can I become obsessive-compulsive – in a good way? 🙂

  3. I try to edit on work days. The structured momentum of these days bleeds into the evening, where you can continue tightening the project in stride. I have the weekends off, so I try to spend at least eight hours creating new material on Sunday for future work day editing. I find some of my best writing comes in short burst while editing on the weekdays.

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