So you’ve decided you’re writing a novel. It’s an exciting time, brimming with possibility. Once you get to work, though, you may find that it’s harder than you thought it was going to be. Don’t let this deter you. Yes, it’s a hard job. But someone has to do it.
Here are five ways writing a novel is harder than you think.
Reason #1: Novels are long.
The minimum number of words required for a novel is about 50,000 words, which can equal up to 200 pages. And this is just the minimum! That’s a lot of writing! Even if you’re trucking along, writing about 1,700 words a day, which NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenges authors to do, it’ll still take a month! This can equal a lot of time and investment into your novel. Writing a novel isn’t a short term project, that’s for sure.
However, every writer needs a good challenge.
Why not do it, though? So what if it’s a lot of words? NaNoWriMo should tell you one thing: it’s doable. You just need to stay dedicated and focused. It’s all about self-discipline. Can you make yourself write?
Reason #2: Creating realistic, three dimensional characters can test your creativity.
Last week, we talked about how to create interesting and lifelike characters. Like any part of writing a novel, it can seem downright impossible sometimes. You essentially have to create human beings out of nothing. Everything is entirely up to you. Every teeny, tiny piece of their personalities is just a product of your imagination. From the way they talk to what they dream about at night, you decide everything, which means the vibrancy and liveliness of your novel completely rely on these characters.
However, you can draw from real life to create characters.
The good news? You’re surrounded by real, very lifelike people every day. You can draw inspiration from these people! Your main character could be an amalgamation of your parents, your closest friends, your coworkers, etc. Maybe your character laughs like your best friends, talks like your cousin, and has the same memories that your coworker has shared with you from time to time. Real life is all around you – use it.
Reason #3: Writing a novel can take months and even years.
Refer back to point 1: novels are long. Some people are lucky and can get it done quickly. For example, it only took John Boyne two and a half days to write The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Two and a half! On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, is J.R.R Tolkien. It took him sixteen years to write The Lord of the Rings. Now, most authors tend to fall somewhere in between these two, taking weeks, months, or years.
However, this is a story that needs to be told. No matter how long it takes.
Ask any published author if the time and commitment was worth it, and they’ll tell you yes. Tolkien spent sixteen years of his life writing The Lord of the Rings, and look how immensely successful it is. It is one of the most intricate and complex books of all time, and it’s one of the best selling books of all time! Since it was published in 1954, it has sold over 150,000,000 copies! Seems pretty worth it, huh?
Reason #4: Keeping the story straight for 300+ pages requires extreme attention to detail.
If your character reveals that they’re allergic to peanut butter on page three, you can’t have them eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on page three hundred. Right? Every minute detail needs to be remembered for the sake of continuity. You’d be surprised how astute readers can be. If your book is riddled with inaccuracies, you’ll lose their support. Remember all the details can be hard, but you absolutely have to.
However, if you get the details right, there’s no telling just what the story can accomplish. (Plus, you can take notes.)
Relax—all you need to do is take notes. Extensive notes, of course, but it’s entirely possible. Remember J.R.R. Tolkien? His story was chock-full of details, from old legends to magical spells, he had to remember everything. But he did, and it became the second best-selling book of all time. It’s a book that’s taught in college courses, inspired movies, and become something for fantasy authors to aspire to. Remembering the details means the difference between a flop and a bestseller. A good way to keep everything straight is by creating an outline and sticking to it. For more help on how to write a novel outline, read this blog.
Reason #5: Publishing is hard.
The traditional publishing industry can be a tough one to crack. Publishing a book is like winning the lottery. Having a good book doesn’t automatically get you in: you’ve got to be lucky.
This is just silly. Self-publish! Writing a novel can be hard, but publishing shouldn’t be.
Don’t ever worry about how to publish a novel when self-publishing exists. All that you need is a book and a desire to publish. Voila!
Need a little more motivation or guidance? Read our past blog posts, which outline how to write a novel step by step.