Write a Novel in 2014
by Alison Lyke
I’m going to finish my next novel in 2014. That’s not as much a resolution as a necessity. For one, I promised the good folks at Spectacle PMG at least one more book. I also have this need to write fiction, and to do justice to my characters by seeing their stories through to the end. I won’t presume to tell you how a novel is written, except for word by word, but I will give you some of the techniques that have helped me to reach writing goals and complete my books.
Those of you who “wake up extra early to get writing done,” are maniacs. I can’t even begin to understand you. For everyone else, it may be difficult to fit writing in between work, chores, children, and binge watching Ancient Aliens.
I overcome this by making a goal to write a certain amount of words every day, no matter what. Out of optimism, I set this goal at two to three times the amount of words that I know I’ll actually have time to write. Sometimes, I have strings of weeks or months where I can write almost everyday. I often fall off the wagon though and have to rely on other techniques.
My stories are written, either in full or in part, in my mind before they reach the page. I carry them around in my head, nurturing character personalities, filling in plot holes, and adding interesting bits from everyday life. That way, when I do have time to sit down and write, I don’t have to stare at the page and wonder what the hell I’m going to come up with.
Fits of Inspiration
Something breaks—the fountain of stories in my mind overflows. I have a dream that belongs to my novel.
However it happens, inspiration takes over and I have to write and write. I can write chapters in hours. If it was always this easy and I always had time enough to see these fits through, I could finish each book in about two weeks. Inspiration attacks are usually followed by exhaustion and crankiness.
Late Night Drinking
A few glasses of wine with some friends or a night out at a bar may be followed with writing under the influence. This is great for areas of stories that are weird, otherwise awkward to write, or fantastic. Be prepared to heavily edit any work done using this technique.
I used to have company-imposed deadlines, but I have more freedom in the latest incarnation of my writing life. This means that I have to set my own targets. It’s harder to finish a story on my own timetable, as opposed to having an editor breathing down my neck. In previous years, I might put off finishing a story and then spend the days and nights before a deadline battling to get the work done. Now, I have to be accountable to myself and disciplined with my time. All of my joking aside, that discipline and accountability is key to completing a novel.
I hope 2014 brings you joy and success. If you have a story, tell it. The world needs your original stories and art. Don’t try to write perfectly; don’t worry if you think no one will like it. Be selfish and write for yourself, only you know how to tell your story. Make spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes and typos; they can always be fixed later. Create characters that make you cry. If you write with passion it will be apparent to all who read it.