Novel Writing: The Story With My Story

When I was in sixth grade I wrote a novel. And by novel, I mean a 100 page Word doc with size 16 font and horrid plot progression. But it had a beginning, middle and end. It was my pride and joy.

I know a lot of bloggers also are novel writers. I know a lot of them participate in NaNoWriMo. I am insanely jealous of that. These people not only have the time to write a novel but they actually have plot ideas? I am in awe.

I struggle with ideas. I always have. Aside from that one pathetic novel in grade six, almost all the stories and ‘novels’ I wrote growing up were either complete plagiarism or used really basic characters and arcs. I even struggle with blog post ideas and the fact that I’ve managed to keep up this blog for almost two years on my own is actually shocking. I don’t know how I do it.

Towards the end high school I did have a novel idea. I can’t remember how it came to me but all of the sudden I had characters and a plot and I would spend time thinking about it. To date, it’s my best idea and I do believe that it’s a decent one. I want to see it through. I got about 50k words in and then kind of stopped when I got writer’s block. Then I went University and always had the intention of going back to it when I had time.

The reason I’m telling you this and the joke of it all is that one of my majors is in writing and there’s this fourth year course that I’m interested in about literally making a book. Not to be dramatic, but that course is one of the reasons I’m even at the school I’m at. The head of the department talked it up when I toured the campus.

I’m in third year now and am slowly starting to plan for my final year. I’ve looked into the course some more and found out that the idea is to go into the class with a story already written and then throughout the semester edit and polish it and get it ready to be published at the end. I now understand why a lot of students apparently use compilations of the stories they’ve written in other writing courses throughout the years. The problem with that is that all the stories we write for these other courses are non-fiction about our real lives and again, not to be dramatic, but my life is very boring and I really dislike all my stories. So if I were to take this book course next year, I guess I need to start writing…or, continue writing, as my half novel is probably my best bet.

And that scares me.

I could be enrolled in this course as soon as September and I’m not near ready to let other people read this novel. I haven’t even read it in two years. I can only imagine the cringing I’ll do when I do go back to it. What if I hate everything? What if my characters are too one-dimensional? What if my writing is too weak? What if my plot twists are too boring? What if I use too many clichés? What if I can’t think of an ending?

Writing for a blog and writing for a novel are very different and since I’ve mostly only written for a blog as of late, I’m worried about the adjustment.

Image result for writing gif

I love to write, and writing a book is one of the few things on my so-called bucket list. I always kind of figured that one day I’d get my act together, finish and edit a novel and send it out to agents or publishers (though I don’t know the first thing on going about that and it seems like an even scarier task than doing the actual writing). Whether I take this course at school or not, I’m not going to stop dreaming about one day having my name on an actual printed book.

So, my blogging amigos and dedicated readers, do you have any advice or tips? How do you carve out time to write? How do you get back into the swing of writing? How do you make your story the best? How do you develop new ideas? How do you know when your writing is good enough?

Any resources or wise words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated.


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27 thoughts on “Novel Writing: The Story With My Story

  1. These are doubts that every writer has. Is this good? Is the ending appropriate? Do the characters feel real and relevant? Don’t be dissuaded if things arent perfect, thats just how writing can be sometimes. But idea was obviously good enough for you to begin to write, so I dont see why it wouldnt be now. Keep confidence in yourself. 🙂

    Getting back into the swing of things is easy. Read other stuff and then write some short stories to get yourself back into the groove. They dont have to be perfect either, its just to get you used to writing again. As for making it the best, find someone whose judgement you trust and ask them to read it and be critical but not overly so. And dont be dispirited by criticism, just take it on board and if they are right, work on improving.

    You’re a bright girl, you can do it. 🙂

    • Every writer has doubts but not every writer has been out of the game for so long! This weekend I hope to make time to get started. I want to actually finish the story before I let others read it, so that’ll be my next task.
      Thank you for your support! You’re a creative person so I know I can look to you for some zany inspiration too!

  2. As a writer who has taken the plunge into self publishing, and who won NaNoWriMo 2016 – let me first say – IT IS HARD. By Nov. 22nd, this was my feels: vnvjv0r-i4ir9l,mckigiodk. No, not a typo. Pretty accurate. By Nov. 26th, I seriously considered throwing in the towel. But I did it.

    And with a toddler. And autism, which translates to I get distracted by ANYTHING.

    And when I did my final editing, come to find out, the story made sense, and there were very minor issues. Like the fact it’s a fantasy novel so my spellcheck hated me. Bite me, spellcheck.

    So, the encouraging part: GO FOR IT. Don’t let fear get the better of you.

    My advice: Start slow. Take an hour a week and just work on the novel in some fashion. Jot down notes, or tweak an outline, or actually add words. Delete words. Yell at the screen/notebook and throw a few pillows around. Make coffee or tea and put whipped cream in it. Breathe. Write down song lyrics or movie lines that inspire you. (My playlist is a big deal, personally.)

    Good luck, and God bless. 😉

    • I’m glad you commented because I know you just did NaNoWriMo so I know you’re in the middle of it all and can be a model of effort.
      I’ve seen some other people mention playlists and I’ll definitely consider what I listen too. Usually I just click shuffle…
      Thanks for the advice and I wish you good luck too! I like fantasy so I can’t wait to one day read your book!

  3. Well, I don’t have any tips because I am not a novel writer. But I once aspired to be one, and my tip (demand!) is please please please do that class! Even if you don’t get close to publication during the class, you’ll have a finished first draft at least and you’re that much closer to your dream. Do it!

    • That’s true. I’m definitely going to look further into the class and hopefully talk to the instructor and maybe other students. Because I’d have fiction and I have close to 50k words where everyone else has probably 20k nonfiction, I feel like I’ll need approval first!

  4. Well this is pretty cool, I didn’t know that about you (a lot of things I bet). I have written short stories as small as 5 pages in High School, took a creative writing course in College (University) where the requirement was 15 pages, though I wish I could’ve made it more because I felt it was too short, and have written a 50 page unfinished novel a few years ago at an office job I had (it was an internship and got all my work done in an hour and spent the rest of my time writing), and yet I still haven’t gone back to writing it.

    My ideas come from my interests and creative imagination. I’m always thinking and learning about new things throughout the day that might not even tie into blogging or writing, but if it does, then I blog about it. I really should start writing again other than just blogging, but it’s something that’s easier said than done.

    • If I’m starting again, then you should start again!
      It’s easier for me to come up with blog ideas because they’re usually about me or my life whereas novel ideas have to be original and creative and good enough to sell. But perhaps I need to challenge myself to think more. Because my novel has been on the back burner for so long, I haven’t had to think about it. Now I will.

  5. DO IT. 🙂 Also, a word of advice, write what’s in your heart. I notice that people can often relate to that. Whether fiction or non-fiction, if we write from an honest place, or we write our characters from an honest place, it makes for great stories.

    PS: If you need a second eye, send it my way and I will gladly look at it.

    • That’s a good tip! I do find in my writing that I draw inspiration for characters from my friends and people in my life and through my writing classes at school, my skill developing characters has gotten better!
      Once I get a final draft done, I will definitely send it out to people to take a peek at! Thank you!

  6. Do not let fear or self-doubt get in your way. I won Nano 2016. It really is just a matter of showing up every day and doing the work. I have a calendar where I log the number of words I write each day. I don’t care if they are good or polished or any of that at this point. That is what the re-write and editing are for. Sign up for the class, especially if it scares you, and show up and do the work. I am rooting for you.

    • Thank you! Support means a lot! I don’t know if I can find time every day to write/edit but I’m definitely aiming for every week. I know consistency is key!

  7. Over the years, I’ve changed immensely as a writer. When I was younger, I read and wrote only genre fiction. I wrote a few bad novels – what’s interesting here is that bada as they were, I always completed them. About four years ago, I got introduced to literary fiction through African Literature (I’m an African, so imagine the joke of the situation) through Chimamanda Adichie. I loved her books, and I wanted to write like her. Subsequently, and with difficult, I got to read other African writers – Teju Cole, Taiye Selasi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, etc – and each time, their writing influenced mine greatly. But here’s the deal: as soon as I began writing literary fiction – which I love immensely, and which is the only thing I want to write – I became unable to finish any of the novels I started to write, and now, I write only short stories and essays and poetry.

  8. What u am saying though is that I do not know how to write a novel. The ones that I’ve started and abandoned, I abandoned because: on rereading them after a while of writer’s block, I found them irritating and dumb… I don’t think you should go back to that unfinished novel. You’d never be satisfied with it. I hope this all makes sense. And, by the way, I enjoyed you our our writing.

    • That’s an interesting perspective, and I thank you. I think I’m going to go ahead with it anyways and I hope I am not unsatisfied…I guess I’ve yet to be influenced by other types of writing and styles (I really don’t care for poetry, sorry!). As much as I’ve changed as I writer, I think the basics are still there and I can fix anything I now don’t like.
      Thanks for commenting!

  9. You could do what I do and write books that aren’t really books. In all seriousness, I’m I’m a similar predicament. But I read a quote once that really stuck with me. It said that if it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it. I think about that whenever I realized I just spent half the day playing video games.

  10. Dooo it, dooo it! Even though my masters is in Playwriting, I think I can safely say all writers are essentially that Tom Hanks gif at any given time. I have a reading coming up next month for a 15 minute script I thought up in 5 days. Before that, I had actors and a director workshop a full-length idea (but only looking at this one scene) that has been bubbling in my head since the bottom of 2015 and still isn’t finished. Basically, ideas pop up when they want to. In a nutshell: plan your story, invent time to write if you have to, and set your own standards of ‘good enough’.

    That last one was the only way I survived my masters: my aim was to entertain, make people laugh at the right moments, and provide older actors with characters they wouldn’t be used to i.e. usually decrepit and boring (because for some reason I can’t create characters under the age of 40). But I lost more time than I should have in trying to please staff and coursemates – apart from formatting and logic, if they’re not with you, you waste time trying to make them ‘get it’ that could be better spent on your work.

    I could actually talk about this at length, so I may just have to create a post about this. See what you’ve done? 🙂

    • Setting my own standards is a really good tip, thank you!
      Good luck with your play reading! I’m sure you have a lot of tips and writing advice, with a Masters and all, so if you do write a post on the subject, I would love to read it!

  11. I don’t have any expertise on long-form writing of any kind, but the best writer’s advice/novel-writing website I’ve come across is at (no affiliation, just happened across it once upon a time and daydream there occasionally with not enough ambition to follow-through, so far). Anyway, Kaye’s consistent and shares lots of good practical advice and seems very genuinely encouraging. A post like this one might be a good place for you to start, or hit the random post link on her site, follow her on social media or whatever. Best wishes for your novel-writing 🙂

  12. I have a children’s book published on and completed one Nanowrimo a few years ago. The only advice I have is stay focused and your characters will be telling you where they go.

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