How to write a novel, WIP edition

. 2 min read

I've mentioned in a few videos at least that I'm in the process of writing a novel - my second full-length novel. I've written a lot of poetry and short stories and novellas, but writing an entire novel is a whole different story. Here's why.

Writing a novel is freaking hard.

While a poem could take as little as five minutes to write from start to finish, and even a short story could be completed in a day, and a novella in a week, a full-length novel takes months. At least for me. Theoretically, you could write for 16 hours a day and finish a novel in a week, but a 16-hour write is just not realistic. I heard Stephen King writes four hours a day. I think that just might be the maximum - or if not maximum, then optimal - amount of time to write daily so that you can sustain the habit from day to day, from here to infinity, without getting exhausted or losing your mind.

Myself, I write from one to one and a half hours daily. It sounds lame when I say it like that. And I admit I'd like to write more. While most of the hours of my day are absorbed into WIP and my other job, I'm sure I could find another hour or even two to dedicate into writing. (Saying I'm too tired to write after those mandatory tasks would be a lousy excuse.)

But as I said, writing a novel is hard work. You don't get an almost-immediate gratification of finishing a complete piece, like you do with a poem. Writing a novel for one hour gives me no gratification at all.

It's only until the entire novel is finished, will I get gratification. But boy, what a gratification it is. It overwhelms the summed gratification of a hundred poems any day of the week.

When it comes to writing a novel, a few handy tricks and hacks are in order. First, remember that execution trumps idea every time. Secondly, it's good to have at least a vague spine for the plot, but improvising some parts could create unpredictable plot twists. Thirdly, write every day, even when you feel uninspired. Or at least open the file and look at the manuscript. Fourthly, accept the fact that not every word that you type is gold. Because it doesn't matter. Producing text, regardless or quality, matters.

Quantity over quality. Get grinding, and sooner or later, you have a completed novel in your hands.