A writers (novel) journey

5 minute read

Five years ago I started writing my first novel, an idea birthed when I was doing a creative writing course . Excited by the idea of writing a book, I innocently took on the challenge, without a second thought.

It was difficult trying to find the time to write amongst everything else I do. Most times it wasn’t a priority and was painfully placed at the bottom of my things to do this list. In those moments the doubts and frustrations grew.

Life just threw stuff at me and knocked me sideways for months, leaving me licking my wounds and rebuilding, until I was able to get moving again.

There were the ‘not writing’ months which lead to a change in my writing style and I would spend months re-reading and re-writing chapters. There were periods when I couldn’t write, when the writers block consumed and took control.

I would sit down, laptop ready and expectant, but my mind would be completely blank.

These writing sessions usually ended in tears and more doubts.

Special writing sessions did exist and I did not want these to end. Ideas and motivation flowed freely, fingertips and keyboard keys became one, and the need to write something (anything) took over and I got lost in sentences.

Coming from a poetry background, I continually questioned my writing style. Was it too poetic? Would readers get my creativity? Did it have too much description? I would sigh when I (again) went on about a sunrise for almost a half a page.

I became confused with story lines, character developments, conflict decisions and chapter structuring. I found writing conversations hard to do and avoided them completely.

When sessions ended in doubt I went to Twitter and connected with other authors who encouraged and motivated me. In my personal space, I mediated and prayed.

I doubted (yes I am again saying this word) myself and my abilities, and wondered if someone out there would really read my work.

‘A writer finds their voice after the first 10,000 words.’ My 10,000 words came and went, and I was still looking for my voice.

When I first had the idea of writing this blog post, my instant thought was “I’m not qualified to be giving writing advice.” I’m still a beginner myself, I’m not done yet and there is so much more for me too learn and do!

“I am an unpublished poet and writer.”

But I realised there would be others in the place I was five years ago, with a great idea and a passion to start writing. And like me, feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start. So I thought why not share some of my experiences and just hope it will inspire someone else.

All I can give advice on is the things that helped me along my ‘unfinished’ writing journey.

I created my writing space:

My writing cave allows me to close a door and not open it until I have done something. I must admit it took me a while to create a space and I wished I done it earlier. My writing sessions became more fulfilled.

I wrote more, had more ideas and my confidence grew.

I became more serious about writing and felt like a professional. I even changed the way I labeled myself and started calling myself a writer. I am a writer with a part time job. Why not?

I have the right to define my unpublished status.”

I just wrote:

You hear this often “to be a writer, you have to write.” It doesn’t matter what or how much. Don’t worry about your writing style, your story line, if this chapter should start with this sentence. What is the right writing theory? It doesn’t matter. Too often I became overwhelmed with structure that my writing sessions ended very quickly. I would compare my writing style and methods with others and feel I was doing something wrong. Nothing seemed good enough!

There is no right or wrong way to write. Period.”

Does my story make sense? Did I pay attention to details? My writing plan? What is that?

There is something beautiful about writing with freedom, letting the words flow and allowing them to tumble out. And before you know it, you have something, 200 words, 500 words. You can then read, re-write and expand.

I talked about my dream:

This does not come naturally to me but sharing my writing journey on social networking sites helped. I networked and talked to other writers, asked questions and shared my concerns. I gave friends draft chapters to read and asked them what they thought.

Later on I told people I was a writer when they asked me what I did and quickly afterwards I told them my actual paid job. This built my confident and created accountability. The more I talked, the more people expected me to do, it was (and still is) the push to keep going.

I found time to write:

This was something I struggled with at the beginning. I did not know where to start, life just seemed too busy and when I did have the time, I was not in a writing-mood.

“I realised there is no such thing as a writing-mood, you just have to do it. “

A few years ago I met a lovely ninety-three year old woman who told “you have to fight for my time!” I have never forgot that!

I have done different things to create time:

  • Take advantage of my flexibility at work.
  • Look at my week ahead and noted my free time.
  • Have a dedicated writing day.
  • Explore how I spent my time.
  • Reduced useless activities.
  • Got rid of distractions during my writing time.

Most times it worked but there were occasions when the unexpected caused me to be busy.

“For the things I could control, I needed to have self-control”

I often had a ‘no phone’ period, wake up early so I can cook a meal, leave for work extra early so I can sit in a coffee shop for an hour or two to write.

What things do you need to de-clutter to create more time?

I stopped feeling bad

There have been many times when I did not do what I needed to do. I had no self-control, had not written enough, have felt ‘if only I was more…’ (you fill in the blanks), earlier on in my journey I would be further along my journey. You get the picture. I’m not even going to write a lot about this because there is no point in dwelling on past writing failures.

“I keep telling myself ‘I would do better next time!’ This could be tomorrow, usually for me it is next week.”

If you enjoyed hearing part of my story and feel it will help someone else. Please recommend and share, and leave a comment below. Thank you for your support!