What’s it like writing a novel?

Well, I can only talk from my own experience on this matter but basically the first 20,000 words are a breeze. They just pour out and then I sit back and have to really think about the plot because, you see, I don’t plan. It’s quite a problem. So then I think and think and think and the next 10,000 slowly draw themselves out. Then I take another break for a very long time and I never understand it. If you enjoy something and love it why do you walk away? I think that’s one for the psychologists. Then the next 10,000 words come out through sheer force of will – this is the point I’ve now reached. So I’m 40,000 words in and I’ve got my plan in a notebook. See, there it is!


There’s even a map!

IMG_6312I’ve got my self all organised and I’m sitting down at my computer and I’m writing about writing instead of writing. How ridiculous is that? (Very, very ridiculous, in case you weren’t sure of the answer).

The last line is already written, I just need to get there and for some reason, as with my first novel, this mid-way point is the hardest one to cross. The book can practically write itself at this point AND YET IT ISN’T. Someone needs to invent a programme that just extracts the book from your brain into a word document.

And, it isn’t a fear of rejection, 32 rejections from my first book didn’t put me off tackling a second – I don’t feel that the book ever lived up to the idea, which is a huge shame but that’s why I wanted to start something new; I felt I had learnt so much after my first attempt.

So, could it be that it won’t live up to my own expectations? Not really, I actually enjoy re-reading this one, that’s not to say it’s a literary masterpiece, I just enjoy YA books.

So, why am I incapable of finishing? Partly laziness, partly distractions from building work and work, work and pretending I’m going to go to the gym and getting ready and then wondering around trying to find reasons not to go. Mostly I think it’s motivation. I lack motivation, I lack urgency, I tend to think that it’ll be done when it’s done. There’s no real hurry, there’s no agent demanding a first draft, there’s no deadline, there’s no money being dangled in front of me like a carrot. Oh how I wish there were a carrot.

At work (now, this is a risky thing to say in case anyone I work for reads this), I tend to leave things until Thursday, I store up work and then complete everything on a Thursday afternoon because it has to be done by then (I don’t work Fridays, I know, I totally should have finished writing my novel by now, I have WHOLE FRIDAYS to work on it). I don’t have a leisurely pace, it’s all or nothing. This is why I’m thinking of sending off Rebellion to agents because it will give me that sense of urgency; it will give me a deadline to work towards because I know that when replies come in 6 weeks later and one of them wants to see a full manuscript I need to have it ready.

Or I should teach myself to be more disciplined and commit 1-2 hours a day to my writing and ACTUALLY WRITE ON FRIDAYS. That would be the sensible thing to do, but I’ve never been one to take the sensible, logical, route. And that is why I choose sci-fi or dystopian settings for my books.

3 thoughts on “What’s it like writing a novel?

  1. Sounds a lot like how I used to be, maps included! I still haven’t finished the novel I began about 8 years ago (although it was part one of four so I’ve been doing a lot of planning about how the whole story arcs over the four books). I keep getting distracted by short stories and other projects but it’s slowly dawning on me I need to get into gear with it. I try and get at least half an hour of writing in a day (it’s amazing how often it turns into more), even if it’s on my lunch break. I’m at 65k words now.

    It’s not a bad idea to send away your script if it’ll get you moving on it. I’ve started using a quarterly contest as a deadline for short stories and even if I don’t make deadline it means I’ve progressed the story anyway.


    1. 65k! Amazing – you’re nearly there, definitely well over the hump. You know when you walk into a gym and you see the people walking out and you think “I want to be you right now” – this is basically the same situation. Especially seeing as YA is way shorter and so that would mean I was nearly done.

      Really impressed that you write stories for contests, such a good way to stay motivated. If you have any stories up online I’d love to read them.

      Best of luck with everything.



      1. Ha, nice gym analogy … although I’m probably hobbling out on my way to the off-licence, with multiple muscle strains after gleefully proclaiming to whole gym “no problem, I can lift that weight…nothing to it,” ***translates to: I can write four novels at once, as well as everything else***

        I’ve got a few stories online here:


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