The challenge of novel writing

Well, I’m still in the game after three weeks of the NaNoWriMo novel-writing challenge. I’m close to the 35,000 words mark and I’ve not had any trouble keeping to my daily goal of at least 1,667 words — that is, until last Friday when I was busy celebrating the marriage of a good friend to the love of her life. And taking part in that was worth every minute that I spent making up the word count on Saturday afternoon.

My original story idea is doing all sorts of leaps, flips, and other marvelous things.  I find myself finishing chapters and saying, “A-ha! That would make a good short story on its own!” and “Where did that come from? Oh, well, I like [the character] better this way.” There are a variety of fascinating mind whirls coming out of this extreme writing exercise.

A novel is an intricate package of words. While a short story, an essay, or an article deals with a specific situation and wraps it up in a few thousand words, the novel keeps the reader waiting and guessing; hoping and fearing; twisting and turning; enjoying the characters and story, but longing for the reveal. It’s been tough for me to keep the story going, chapter after chapter. I’m used to the wrap up of a short story or article; the novel writing is forcing me into long-term thinking. Talk about a challenge!

Fortunately, NaNo is just a harmless way for writers to discover if they have any business trying to write in the novel genre. Writing is, after all, a craft just waiting to be learned, honed, and fine tuned. One of my dreams is to write a book that warms a lot of hearts with the story it tells, and I’m using NaNo as a stepping stone toward realizing that dream. I’m also learning a lot about myself, my writing style, and what it takes to write a novel.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and there is much in my life for which I give thanks to God — such as having a paid, week-long vacation from work to enjoy the holiday with family and friends. The time will also be a much-appreciated break to catch up on non-NaNo writing, Web surfing, and reading.

If you have the luxury of any free time this week, you might want to check out the NaNoWriMo website to be inspired by the hundreds of thousands of people who are giving this challenge a try. Click on the “Forums” link and eavesdrop on the Wrimos. There is a good amount of information available that you might find helpful.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Question: What’s your experience with writing novels? If you haven’t tried or don’t have the desire, why not?


2 thoughts on “The challenge of novel writing

  1. To answer your question, WAY after you wrote this post (I’m going back through all of your posts), I have a book idea, I’ve fleshed out a plot framework, and I’m ready to go. But I have not. I am one who wants to know every iota, read every piece of information about something before I jump in. I got Scrivener on your recommendation, and have the tools, but just can’t seem to take the first step. It’s coming though, and probably very soon.

    It’s time to stop seeing what everyone else thinks about writing, and get to it. Thanks for your blog, though, I have pulled a lot of good information from it, and I enjoy your casual writing style.


    1. Hi, Jason — I agree with you: Just get to it. That is the advice I’ve seen over and over again from successful writers. Don’t worry yet about planning it out. Just start writing. You can learn about the writing life at the same time that you’re writing — that’s what I’m doing. I hope you’ll visit my writing collection, Afternoon Tea. Click on the On Writing tab and you’ll find posts that share my “newbie” thoughts as I enjoy the craft of writing.


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