One year? Six months? One month? How long should you give yourself to write a novel?
The reality is that one out of every three writers who brings a novel in progress to our writer’s group has been working on it for more than a year. And in a lot of cases it’s longer.
Rarely do writers we meet give themselves deadlines to finish a novel. Deadlines are real in the context of agents and contracts but not for most of us working on a first novel.
Lots of writers like to have a starting date to embark on a novel. After New Years, the beginning of summer, after a baby, graduation, or some other event are some common choices.
But when it comes to setting the parameters of start and finish, they appear to consider that “challenge” territory. They enter short story contests with deadlines all the time. But when it comes to a novel there’s one challenge I know for a fact several of them will be working on – a fifty thousand word count for NANOWRIMO this November.
Can you write a novel in a month? And in fifty thousand words or less? Of course it’s possible and of course you should try if that’s what it will take to get the words out of your head.
The big question remains. Under normal circumstances should a writer work with a timeline to complete a novel?
Yes – if you want to own your story instead of your story owning you.
A story can be a tyrant. The plot, the characters and the research of a story can trap a writer for weeks, months and years. There is an attachment syndrome for any writer when dealing with an idea that is personal.
Also, writers can pour a great deal of identity and perceived integrity into a work that keeps them involved beyond a reasonable amount of time editing and rewriting.
I like to call too much rewriting and over-editing “mauling” a story. But that’s just me. It’s also a form of procrastination when it’s done excessively before a first draft is complete.
Which brings me to two of my favorite quotes:
The act of writing is an act of optimism.
There is nothing optimistic about halting to scratch things out, hesitating to rethink a word choice or second guessing a plot twist. Optimism is pushing forward with the Muse at your back. No fear.
Write away. Set goals, time frames and whatever helps you achieve the end or “The End”.
Where can a writer look for motivation to set a time limit when it’s so much easier to keep working on the same story with no particular deadline in mind?
It’s a quote from Kurt Vonnegut.
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
A first draft is difficult. It can be an enormous chore. It may feel like you are climbing a mountain in order to finish it. But if you don’t climb a mountain where else will you find cliffs for developing your wings?
And that is the challenge. Create the call from within to climb the mountain, to write the novel. One year, six months, one month. It’s up to you. It’s your mountain.
Writing is work the same as any other. We set aside time to complete normal tasks as a routine. Your novel should be the task of your life. It will set your story free and give it a chance to speak to the world instead of hiding unfinished, unsure, undone.
Christina for Penpaperwrite
If you are looking for a way to take your 50,000 words and turn them into a novel take the
The next one-day workshop is in Atlanta, GA on January 19th, 2019.
Find out more www.60scenes.com and sign up soon! Only 15 spaces available.
“If you can write 60 Scenes® you can write a novel.”