Thoughts on writing a novel in this busy life.
Sound bites are how we operate these days, interrupted moments are my constant companion. I string them together in hopes of building something, before rushing off to the next thing. It’s hard to slow down when you need to get things done, get from A to B and back again, need to talk fast or lose the moment, lose the attention.
How then to write a novel? To have the confidence to say please stop with me for a whole books worth of thoughts. What audacity! What hopefulness.
A poem maybe? A piece of flash fiction, a blog post, maybe a short story… but a novel? Ha!
Who would stay with me for so long. No, surely that’s for other people, not me… But despite the difficulty I have in believing in my capacity to write a novel I lumber on. Despite the many interruptions and lack of confidence I keep returning to my characters, my ideas. I keep building.
When imposter syndrome bites down hard here are some ideas to keep me (and you?) writing:
Think about who your audience is
Conjure up your ideal reader. Make sure it is someone who will sit and listen to you.
Remind yourself that they will not rush off after a quick soundbite, or talk over you. They are there for you. They are smart, patient, and attentive. Mine understands nuance, wants to get to know my characters and have the narrative unfold. I trust that reader – I don’t need to bash them over the head with my agenda. I know they can join the dots.
Let it be imperfect
Soundbite culture and social media moments tells us we have to grab our audience straight away. It’s true -first impressions count, our opening line, opening pages have to convince the reader to stay with us – but that doesn’t mean you have to perfect your opening before you can move on with the rest of your novel. Let it be imperfect, move forward, get it written, you can go back later and get those parts right. As you write you often find that what you thought was the beginning is not.
Craft, Craft craft
In everyday life we don’t get the chance to sculpt our narratives, re-write conversations and create the perfect scene, but in our writing we can. Take advantage of that. Make sure you make your writing the best it can be for that ideal reader who is out there waiting to give you their attention.
Make time to read, or listen to books. Give your attention to narrative, remind yourself what good storytelling is, how rewarding it is to listen to deep dive into another voice.
My novel is not a zoom call
There are some things in life that are obligatory and exhausting. We want to get through them as quickly as possible. A good book is not one of those things. I try to remind myself that my reader is not going to be in a rush to get my book finished so that they can get on with the rest of their evening. They want to be reading my book. They want to get off the zoom call so they can get back to reading – I just have to write the thing first!
So you and I need to believe in our worth, write slowly and carefully, knowing our reader will give our words the attention it deserves.