Much like what I was saying last week about loving your own work before anyone else does, another underestimated task of writing your novel is just that — writing it.
We, as human beings, have a natural tendency to be our own worst critics. When you’re a writer (and I’ll assume any form of artistry would do for this), you read your own writing, look at your own photographs or paintings or anything else you enjoy doing, and you always compare it to someone else’s. Is yours good enough to match up to that one? What if people don’t like your stuff? What if this is just a waste of time?
Well, pish posh.
I partook in one NaNoWriMo last year, which I blogged about while I was doing it if you’re that interested. Anyway, one of the biggest things they emphasize, and the biggest thing I took away from it, was the importance of getting the story down. Oftentimes, at least for myself and any friend I have who has made an attempt to write a novel, we get so overwhelmed by plot outlines, making sure everything connects, getting our research done, and getting everything done and perfect on the first go, and we end up putting it to the side and it never gets written down. You get to a point where if it’s not perfect on the first try, it’s not worth trying.
That’s all well and good in theory, but let’s be realistic. By the end of your novel, you’re going to look something like this:
No first draft of anything you produce is going to come out perfect. Accept it, embrace it, and move on from it. You can’t be sure the end matches the beginning if you never make it to the end. You can have your notes and your ideas, but until you actual formulate those into a story, you’ll never know what parts need the most work. It’s an incredibly daunting task, to be sure, but it’s a necessary one if you want to get yourself anywhere. Especially for first-time novelists who were as naive as I was and assumed all they had to do was pump out a draft, send it to an editor, and move on with life. If it were actually that easy, bookstores would have never closed because we would have an insane amount of books cropping out everywhere.
Be aware that those around you may not take you seriously at first. How many people do you know who want to be a writer, an actor, a director, a film producer, a singer, a musician of any sort — anything that could put them in the spotlight? Apart from almost every other person you come into contact with (well, I am in California, so maybe that’s why I have so many fame-hungry friends), people kind of just smile and nod when you tell them what you want to do. They might laugh or roll their eyes if you say you lock yourself up in your room penning the next Great American Novel, but let them. Use them as drive to get you to where you want to be.
I had a teacher, who I’ve mentioned somewhere on here before, who tried to stop me from graduating once. She was my counsellor, and she was supposed to help me strengthen my writing, but instead she acted as one of the biggest obstacles in my life. And if I had let her beat me, I would never have been where I am today. I may not have a published novel (yet), but time happens :).
Anyway, enough about me.
Get yourself a writing book or two, sit yourself down, and just bust out your first draft. That’s the first step to getting anywhere! Don’t think of the future in regards to your novel; think about the future in regards to your characters. Figure out what you want them to do. Let them lead you through your story. Because I can guarantee as you get to know them better, you’ll realize they have a lot more to say about the story you’re telling than you realize. So give them the chance to help you! Set yourself a word count goal (and research genres and word counts so you can be more “in the know”), and write until you get there. Get it down first. Then worry about fixing it and making it perfect. Every great story has to start somewhere!!