Become the author your always wanted to be! Pick up your pen and start writing. Write anything to begin with, whether it be a thought or a feeling or an experience. Challenge yourself. I write all the time because it’s my dream. Reading inspires me and writing invigorates me. I can stretch my imagination so much further when I write. As writers, it is our duty to utilise the power of words to transport the reader to another world; to enlighten them, make them laugh, make them cry or even make them fall in love with an imaginary being.
I have always toyed with the idea of writing a novel. The very idea has always intrigued me. As a child, I would write stories in pencil about teenage heroines battling against school bullies and scary head mistresses who wore distasteful frocks and had bad coffee breath. However, I will admit that I never completed a single one of these stories.
As I got older, I found myself trying my hand at novel writing for a second time; I have a variety of novel openings just lying about the flat somewhere, probably buried underneath some old folders in the back of my wardrobe. I have written prose that has no beginning, middle or end; they are simply descriptions, an imaginary journal entry by one of the many imaginary people wandering around in my mind.
I had written these fragments of fiction with meaning and with purpose, which dissolved when my confidence did. I think maybe it’s possible that I was intimidated by the idea of writing a novel. Poetry on the other hand has always come naturally to me, I write about my emotions and capture my feelings in a couple of stanzas forever. I always felt that I couldn’t sustain an emotional thought, an experience or an idea to write a whole novels worth of words. So, I wrote in short bursts of imagination to satisfy my desire to create instead.
I think that maybe I was waiting for the inspiration to hit me like a lightning bolt. Imagine a life changing incident for example, imagine it resonating through my very being, breathing inspiration in to my soul, enough to sustain a lifetime of writing. This was my biggest mistake. I was waiting for an idea to find me, when all I had to do was look around myself.
The most helpful advice I can offer to fellow writers, is to write what you know. Write from your experience whatever that may be. Write about your day… Or, write about your night. Write about your day at work and then let your imagination run wild. Writing about what you know will better your chance at sustaining your novel, because you will be drawing inspiration from something that is a constant in your life.
The hardest thing about writing a novel, for myself at least, turned out to be starting it. My usual strategy to writing fiction, is to empty my head and my heart directly out on to the page. I write impulsively and spontaneously, trying to catch the raw ideas as they materialise in my mind. While I can’t deny the effectiveness of this writing strategy, I feel obliged to admit that it’s not enough to sustain an idea for an entire novel. So, I made plans; I’ll admit they aren’t too sophisticated, just notebooks full of scribbly mind maps with the occasional highlighted word, but they are plans nevertheless. There, somewhere in my frantic, late night scribbles, is a plot just waiting to be typed up.
While planning is great, writing is even better. Plan and then write, and then re-plan and re-write. Experiment. Write until not writing makes you feel anxious and uncomfortable. Write so much that you miss it when you’re not writing. We need to progress from people who enjoy writing, to writers. A writer is not a job description; it is a description of yourself. Being a writer is not determined by salary, nor is it determined by popularity, it is simply determined by how much you write.
Many writing websites and bloggers will advise choosing a topic of interest to the general population to better the chances of your novel becoming a success. I disagree with this. If your idea just happens to fit in with what is trending in society, then by all means, go ahead. On the other hand, I believe in writing for yourself and not for the general population. Write about something you that animates and excites you... Never mind the rest of us.
As readers, we will be more impressed by a story that derives from real emotional depth and personal insight and even more impressed by an original idea. Take J.K Rowling for example, her first manuscript of Harry Potter “was turned down by 12 different publishers before Bloomsbury” took a shine to it (Flood, 2015) and now it is one of the most popular books in the world, among children and adults alike. Who’d have thought that a magic school for witchcraft and wizardry would appeal so much to the world?
So, apart from the plan, the plot and the idea, a novel requires characters. Like I said before, I have imagined so many different characters with so many different appearances and personalities; now is the time to pick one and get to know them. Pick four if you like, and merge them in to one character. I love my characters, especially my protagonist. He is anxious, a tad pathetic and he sweats a lot. I feel like he’s real, like I have known him from years. He is not a reflection of my own personal character, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t share any common ground.
Get to know your characters because the entire foundation of your novel depends on them. How can you possibly know how your novel will end without knowing how your character thinks? Get to know them as well as you know yourself. Use those suppressed feelings that boil away quietly under the surface of your subconscious and merge them all in to one character or, split them up and use them for several characters if you like.
To write a novel, concerns more than writing about feelings or people or experiences… It’s the process of creating a fully formed product, to inspire and communicate, because that’s what writing is isn’t it? It’s the ultimate form of communication. There are so many words to choose from to craft the perfect emotions, the perfect imagery and the perfect argument. Write your novel and share your imagination with an entirely separate entity; the reader.
So, go on… Get writing!
Flood, A., 2015. JK Rowling says she received ‘loads’ of rejections before Harry Potter successs. The Guardian , 24 March.
Article by Sophie Dixon
Posted on 26/04/2017
by sophie joandixon