When You Have a Story to Tell

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog, award-winning author Kathleen McCleary shared advice about novel writing. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Here’s what I do know about how long it takes to write a novel:

Writing every day does make a difference. As my mother always said, Clichés are clichés because they’re true. While writing my third novel, I participated in NaNoWriMo—not because I expected to finish my novel in a month, but because I wanted the structure and accountability and challenge. Writing 1,000-1,500 words a day for one month seemed like a doable thing to me, and it was. I wrote 30,000 words in 30 days, and much of it was good. Every time I commit to a daily word count or number of writing hours it helps.

You can’t build a house without a foundation. I am a pantser and not a plotter. With all of my novels I knew the climactic scene, I just wasn’t sure how to get there. But with each book I have spent more time thinking through the steps along the way, and it helps. Right now I’m working with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheet, and knowing the “beats” of my story has made the writing process go much more quickly.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or has done. Yes, it’s reassuring that it took Margaret Mitchell a decade to write Gone with the Wind, but I don’t want to spend a decade writing my current book. And I know myself well enough to know that I can’t write a really good novel in three months. I’d like to finish this book within two years. So I’ve set that as my personal goal, and am trying to keep myself on track to do exactly that.

Let it go. Meaning, let go of your ideas of how long it should take you to write your book, and just write. You have a story to tell and you are the only one who can tell it, so let it unfold.

Listen, completing an entire novel is a tremendous accomplishment, no matter how long it takes. Kudos to all of us! We’ll get there, everyone.

Source: Writers Unboxed Blog


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