“If a book is well written, I always find it too short.” –Jane Austen
Fiction writing is…hard. For me, the longer the piece, the harder it is to produce words. Perhaps it’s a magical word count; you reach a certain amount of words and suddenly the pages seem too crowded. So crowded, in fact, that your mind refuses to crowd the poor pages any more.
This past November (feeling inspired by the incredible fiction pieces we received in our Winter Submissions) I decided to participate in NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month. Basically, you have a goal of a certain amount of words per day which by the end of November will hopefully have produced a full novel. It’s hard enough to keep your thoughts organized to reach that word count, but on top of school and work, it forces your brain into overtime. The progress I made was below satisfactory, I can assure you, and yet I feel somehow better about my writing as a whole. Shaping the characters, working through the plot, it has been a rough journey, but I’m closer to the words because of it.
I have a few tips, though, for your long-term writing process:
Don’t compare yourself to other famous writers. Jane Austen may be able to create a timeless masterpiece, but that doesn’t mean your characters should go around saying, “Oh, there is nothing more I love than to sit and enjoy the splendors of reading, Mr. Smith! I daresay a woman who does not enjoy reading has not fully exercised the true potential of her mind!”
If you reach a block, just keep writing. Even if the words are nonsense, sometimes the subconscious powers your writing more than you know, and you just might get some material out of it.
Sometimes it’s not about the end result. The point of NANOWRIMO was not to produce the next award winning novel – it’s about the experience.
–Zoe DeWitt, Fiction Editor