Tag Archives: novel

How I Wrote a Novel in Thirty Days


As I mentioned in earlier posts, I recently managed to write a novel in one month. To this day, it surprises me. Before that, it used to take me three to six months to write 50K words. The first draft of that novel was completed at 78K. Every night I would go to bed both satisfied and incredulous about the progress I was making. And now I want to share my process with you.

  1. The Story

Say what you will about prolific writers, but they can’t get anything done before they find their story. Here’s a little anecdote about mine. I was lying sleepless in bed at 2:00 a.m., I had finished writing a novel a few days before, and I was homesick and plunging into depression when a tiny idea for a twitter post came to mind. It was simple and funny and I was about to post it when another thought struck me: “What if this thing is worth money?”

So I started taking notes and, needless to say, I lost sleep over that idea. The next day, I wrote a bit about it thinking that it would be a nice short story. It proved to have more substance, and I thought that I could turn it into a short story collection. But once I hit 3,000 words and it seemed that the story was far from over, I realized that the short tale was bound to become a novel. And a couple of chapters later, the novel became a book series. Obviously, I was very excited about this, which brings me to the second point.

  1. The Passion

A few thousand words into the book, it became clear to me that the world I was creating was very similar to the one I lived in. The idea was so organic to me and it fed off of parts of my life I was afraid to talk about. Which reminds me, that was a time when I tried to write my memoir. Yeah, I don’t know if you remember me talking about those, but I failed to finish them. Too much pain. When I translated that pain into fiction, however, words flowed, worlds were created, and pain began to heal.

This book gave me a reason to wake up in the morning and kept me up at night. I had to stop myself from writing because I wanted to conserve my energy for the next day. There was a time when I finished my writing day when my main character was in an uncomfortable situation and spent the rest of my evening blaming myself for leaving him there. It was the most passionate I had ever been about anything. But passion alone is not enough.

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  1. The Commitment

Now we can start talking numbers. Once I realized that I was writing a novel, I noticed that I was writing a considerable number of words every day. I always thought that 2,000 words a day was ideal. But I noticed that I was writing much more. So I bumped my daily goal to 3,000. I wasn’t set out to finishing the book in one month. Honestly, I had skipped too many NaNoWriMo‘s because I didn’t want the pressure. Nevertheless, the prospect was exciting. So I made a schedule comfortable for me.

Everyday, I would wake up around 7:00 a.m., make coffee and start writing. I would get hungry around 9:00 and have breakfast then carry on with writing. By 12:00 a.m. most day, I had a 2,000 words written. I took a break for an hour or two, made lunch and sometimes extended my break for a few more hours to read or take notes. Then, I wrote some more until I reached 3,000 words. Then, I stopped.

On average, I was finishing a chapter every two or three days. I started on December 4th, and by January 4th, I was done. It was not easy, even though I make it sound such. But it made me happy which made it easier for me to commit. I had to give up a lot of things for the sake of finishing the project sooner. I stopped going to the gym for instance, I stopped watching TV because I had no more time, I even started reading less because by the time I was done writing I was too exhausted to do anything else. My schedule was brutal, and I managed to stick to it most days. But there were certain days when I wasn’t as lucky, which brings me to the next point.

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  1. The Break

One thing people forget to learn about commitment is learning when to stop. And I’m not just talking about breaks within the day. Yes, somewhere along the way, I had created for myself an invisible, nagging boss with a strict deadline. Yes, I was enjoying writing and the task was not arduous at all. Yes, after getting used to it, 3,000 words a day became normal to me. However, I had my days as well. I stayed at home for an entire month, hands on keyboard, eyes on screen, mind occupied with people and places. Albeit those places and people provided me with an escape and solace; sometimes, however, I needed my break from them too. So I took it.

On the days I felt I had no energy or desire to write, I didn’t. This may not sound like the best idea, but when I was averaging 18K week, I let myself get away with writing no more than 200 words on certain days. There was a day when I wrote only 50 words. I had received some emotional news on that day that rendered me useless.

On days I took breaks, I went to the gym. I would advise other writers to stay active more often than I did, go out in nature and find a quiet place where they can reflect and relax without being too distracted. Also, I didn’t punish myself on the next day and I didn’t put pressure on myself to compensate for the words I haven’t written. For example, if I wrote 2,000 words on one day, I did not force myself to write 4,000 on the next. I simply stuck to my 3,000 words-a-day goal.

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  1. The Focus

With this project, I took it day by day. Every night when I was done, I would praise myself for writing what I wrote and think about what would happen next. When a plot point revealed itself to me, I rejoiced. I was obsessed with the project. When I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about the characters, what they were doing and what would happen to them next in that book and in other books to come.

This was a prophylactic measure I didn’t know I was taking against writer’s block. When I was constantly thinking about the story, I knew exactly what to write the next day, and the only thing that I needed was to focus. Social media was banned. So was anything else distracting. Reaching me over the phone became impossible, having a conversation with me before 9:00 p.m. was out of the question. I was immersed in the story all day, every day. And it was the only way I could’ve finished it.

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  1. The End

Another thing I did to keep me motivated was to reward myself. Sure the biggest reward came when I finished the book, but between every 25K I found myself rejoicing and allowed myself some room to celebrate. I actually didn’t realize that I was going to finish the book on the day I finished it. I thought it would take me a few more days but the story came to an end and surprised even me. It brought me to tears. The book made me cry many times actually but this was one of the most tearful moments. It was as though all of a sudden, all the efforts and emotions culminated and boiled inside my heart. I couldn’t fight the tears then. But surely after that I was fine and dried my cheeks with pizza and wine, metaphorically of course.

EWAN MCGREGOR stars in THE GHOST WRITER

I know that it is very difficult for people who have jobs and responsibilities to follow this formula. I was fortunate enough to be unemployed at that time. Believe me, a book a month is not an average for me; I’ve been working on the sequel for that book for months and I still haven’t hit 20K. I’m sure, however, that if I followed that same formula and had the same levels of focus and dedication that I will be able to finish this new novel within an approximate time frame.

The first draft of my book was done at 78K. I knew the journey was far from over, but a major part of it was. Not only was this book the one I finished fastest, it was also the only one I edited and the one I’m most proud of now. I am happy to have shared this story with you and can only hope that one day a random reader will feel for this book a fraction of the emotion and passion I’ve put into it.

What was the fastest it ever took you to write a novel? And do you think that if you followed my method that you could finish your novel quicker?

 

[Photos aren’t mine unless otherwise mentioned]

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BREAKING NEWS: Domain Name Changes Tonight!


After much hesitation, I’m finally changing my domain name by tonight. If you haven’t seen a post from me tomorrow, it’s probably because of that. In order for me not to lose your valuable following, I suggest you check back on this domain name by this time tomorrow. WordPress says they would redirect you to my new blog and you can follow me there. You will probably notice that you are already following me. However, you won’t be able to receive my posts on your homepage unless you unfollow then refollow my blog on the new domain name.

I hope this is not so much of a hassle. I compiled a list of my most popular posts for you to enjoy meanwhile. Looking forward for your refollows and support as I take my blog to the next level.

Top Posts:

1) The Benefits of Writing a Terrible First Novel: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/the-benefits-of-writing-a-terrible-first-novel/

2) Four Questions Every Novelist Needs to Ask Himself: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/four-questions-every-novelist-needs-to-ask-himself/

3) The Unhealthy Writer: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/the-unhealthy-writer/

4) Don’t Cheat on Your Ideas: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/dont-cheat-on-your-ideas/

5) Let Go: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/let-go/

6) Published: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/published/

7) Finding the Balance: Between Writing and Building an Author Platform: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/finding-the-balance-between-writing-and-building-an-author-platform/

8) Virtual Past — A Poem: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/virtual-past-a-poem/

9) Black Spider — A Poem: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/black-spider/

10) Beyond The Sea — A Poem: https://margo187.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/beyond-the-sea-a-poem/

See you soon!

Four Questions Every Novelist Needs to Ask Himself


Everyone wants to write a book. Everybody has thought about it at one time or the other. People have different motives for doing it (fame, telling a story, money…). The truth is, however, few succeed. The number of people who manage to write a novel is scarce, much less is the number of those who publish one. Therefore, before writing any book, a novelist needs to ask himself several questions.

Creative business

1. Why Do I Want to Write this Book?

“Why?” is one of the most important question a person can ask himself prior to doing anything at all. In this case, knowing why you want to write a novel puts things in perspective. Are you in it for the money? Fame? Love of the written word? Or are you trying to prove something to yourself?

Knowing why you want to do something helps keep you motivated all the way till you finish that book. And, if the motivation is strong enough, it will help you power through the editing process and the long wait for an agent’s or publisher’s reply.

The key here, however, is to be realistic. Tone down your expectations and focus on your book. Writing a novel is a great learning experience; however, it may not be a great “earning” experience.

2. Can I write this book?

This is not meant to question a writer’s physical ability to type 55K+ words. It is, however, meant to help a writer take an honest and realistic approach at his or her ideas. Many people are struck with ideas that seem brilliant at first. Sometimes the ideas turn out to be ridiculous when reevaluated; other ideas still seem genius. However, there is a difference between a good idea, a great idea, and an idea that can be developed into a novel.

The difference is simple. It lies in the plot, characterization, and the subplot. Yet, many writers make the mistake of assuming that a good idea is all it takes to write a good book. Wrong! Ask yourself, can I write this book with the mere idea I have in mind? Can I stretch this idea for 300 pages and still make it interesting? If the answer is no, don’t give up. Simply spend more time plotting.

3. How Much Do I Know About the Subject?

Another important thing is to be sure you have enough information about the subject. A book, like any other piece of writing, requires extensive research. What does your protagonist do for a living? Is he a detective? Do you have enough information about how detectives work? And I don’t mean information you learned from watching movies… Researching sometimes requires traveling to the location of your story, interviewing people in the same line of work as your characters’, and reading several fiction and non-fiction books.

So before you tackle that novel, ask yourself: do I have enough information about the subject I’m writing about? If the answer is ‘no’, then do more research. The better you research your book, the less time it will take you to write it, and writers’ block is less likely to catch up with you.

 

4. Can I Commit to It? 

Like everything else in life, the flare of the new dims after a while; that’s why it is best to write that novel as quickly as possible. That, however, doesn’t mean putting pressure on yourself to write it in a month. It just means that you need to commit to your project.

This is easier than you think. Pick a time in the day when you are usually not working, cooking, or taking care of your children. No matter how little time in the day you think you have, believe me, it’s enough. An hour spent effectively is better than eight hours wasted staring at a screen.

During the day, think of what you’re going to write, let the plot progress in your head, and take notes so you won’t forget. When the time comes to write, take a quick look over the notes and commence typing.

Writing a novel is a BIG project. Like any other project, it takes motivation, planning, knowledge, and commitment. Chances are, if you have the motivation and commitment, you will find a way to achieve the other two. The most important thing is to take your time with the process. And remember that great things take great sacrifices.

Photo Credits:

http://nlpworks.com/what-motivates-you/

http://mag.uchicago.edu/alumni-books

http://emmamwhittle.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/committment-issues/

The Benefits of Writing a Terrible First Novel


 

As some of you may know, I recently completed a novel for the first time. After two failed attempts to complete manuscripts before, just the fact that I wrote “The End” was an accomplishment to me. I took some time away from the book in attempt to return to it with a fresh perspective. What I saw upon my return, however, shocked and disappointed me. My finished book, the one I spent three months writing, was not worth reading. Many find it difficult to admit this about their own creations – believe me, it took me a while to accept the fact myself. In spite of how disappointed I was by the first draft of my book, there are invaluable lessons that I learned throughout the process.

Many might say that I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself, a first draft is never as good, and it was only the first novel I ever completed. However, when I finished writing the manuscript, my writing substantially improved. Editing didn’t take as much effort as it used to – even though there were still times when I had to rewrite a piece seven to eight times before I became satisfied with it. Therefore, when I got back to my novel, I noticed that it was written below my own standards. What I noticed, hence, was the first advantage of writing a terrible first novel: it made me a better writer.

When I started writing my book in January 2014, I had a clear idea of how the story will begin and end, the genre, and the main conflict of the plot. However, other than that, I had not much more to build on. I started to discover my characters as I went along, and the plot changed as well depending on what I had written before. It wasn’t planned, and it looked like it. Therefore, my second lesson was to pay more attention to plotting and characterization.

Initially ,I only began writing the novel just to prove to myself that I was able to write one. I was eager to finish the book since I had already failed twice at that, so the most important part of the manuscript was the final chapter. When I started reading my first draft, I could tell that I had rushed through writing it. Even in the places where I thickened the plot felt uninspired to me. The third lesson I learned was to take my time.

Research is invaluable, I came to realize. Even though the subject I tackled was familiar to me, had I not had the knowledge about that subject, writing that novel – as modest as it turned out to be – would’ve been impossible and would’ve placed the novel at an even lower standard. In fact, the most appealing part of the manuscript, in my opinion, was my description of society and places.

However, in spite of my knowledge in the subject, I felt that it was of no more interest to me after a while. Many may tell you to write about what you know; however, I learned that I needed to find a subject that flares a lasting interest in me. Writing one novel could sometimes take years. If a writer’s interest in the subject he’s tackling fades, what’s the point of writing? Sure enough, the reader will lose interest just as well.

There’s not enough time in the world to learn every tip and trick to write a great novel. Everybody has to start somewhere. Armed by the lessons I learned and the experience I gained, I continue my writing adventure. All I can do is write, and learn as I go. I wonder what I am going to learn today.

What are some of the lessons you learned in your early experience as writers?

The Unhealthy Writer


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Leading a healthy lifestyle is an essential thing for me. When I’m healthy, not only do I look better in my slim jeans, but I also write better, think better, sleep better, and feel better about myself. Last year, I started an exercise regime which consisted of me working out at least three times a week. Recently, however, I have deviated from the norm and, with swimsuit season approaching, I feel awful about it.

Ever since I started writing my novel, I no longer had much time to do anything else. My mornings revolved around writing, noons and afternoons around studying, I edited in evenings, and at nights, well, I slept. I know that the old I don’t have time excuse is invalid. However, I will say that I was unable to manage my time in such a way as to fit exercising into my daily, or three-times weekly, routine.

I still exercise; I haven’t let myself go completely. However, with the long hours sitting on a chair and typing, staying active has become more important than ever for me to keep my body, and head, in a wholesome state.

To tell you the truth, my work out schedule isn’t the only thing that was affected during the time I was writing my novel. I had two novel-writing attempts before, one of which I quit on near the end while the other didn’t even make it to the middle. I learned a lot from my experiences, and am learning every day. So when I started writing a novel for the third time, I wanted it to be a charm. I put enormous pressure on myself to finish this story, regardless of how tired I was or what it would take from me. Something was going to give. However, I’m glad that something was my waistline instead of my novel.

I’m sure as I embark on writing other novels that I will find it easier to manage my time, as finishing a novel will no longer be a ghost looming over my shoulder. For the time being, I started to get back on track, and went for walk this morning.

How does writing affect your daily routine?

DONE!


ImageTyping “The End” when you finish your manuscript gives you one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. It feels as if something that seemed impossible had just materialized. It’s like when you’re reading an engaging book and it ends. Oh, no! What happens next? I want to know more. I want to follow the journey of those people forever!
Of course, every journey should come to an end at some point or the other, and the journey of my character ended today. I love the way I ended the book, leaving it open to interpretations, yet, making it easy to guess where the character would go next.

I learned a lot throughout the past 90+ days and I can’t believe that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and not write another word in this novel. You won’t believe how arduous the past month has been. Those of you who wrote or are writing a novel know what I’m talking about. Once your manuscript nears the end, you feel your head going to explode as you make sure to tie loose ends and resolve the conflict in a smart, yet unpredicted, way.

The draft needs serious work, I know. I will let it rest for a few weeks, however, before I start editing, which is the part I dread the most. I get frustrated editing short stories, so you can only imagine what I will go through editing tens of thousands of words. You may encounter several nagging posts on my part in the near future, so be prepared.

Meanwhile, I will publish some writing tips on my blog, inspired by my experience. I’m no expert; that’s why the advice is free. Happy writing!

The Final Chapter


ImageI’m so excited to announce that I’m now writing the final chapter of my novel. This journey is getting tougher by the day, and I know it will  become increasingly daunting when I start editing.

Thank you all for the support, you have made this journey much easier and more enjoyable.

On other news, the winner of the free copy of the magazine 5Stories is Jennifer L. Thorpe: Eye Candy Visionz. Thank you Jennifer for supporting me and I hope to hear your feedback on my story Ernest’s Awakening.

If you haven’t yet taken a look at my story in the lit-mag, please do so by visiting this link: http://www.magzter.com/IN/Cresco-Books/5Stories/Entertainment/