anyone can write a novel

I’m gonna warn you from the get-go: I’ve got nothin’ tonight. Writer’s Block with a capital WB. I’m hoping I’ll warm up as I go.

So, you know how I participated in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) this November? Well. I finished. Excuse me, I WON. (That’s the proper NaNo slang for getting to 50,000 words by midnight on November 30. Anybody can win.)

And you know what? It really wasn’t all that hard. And do you know what that statement says about me? My novel is probably a piece of trash. Because GOOD writing? Does not generally come so easy.

On second thought, it WAS hard. Here’s what I thought was hardest:

1. coming up with plot ideas and not resolving them instantly, no matter how hard I wanted to.

2. writing an average of 1,667 words a day, even when I didn’t feel like it.

3. writing a story from beginning to end (I have never, ever done this before).

4. not going back one single time to edit anything.

5. making it realistic but not boring.

I’m going to let the little booger sit for awhile. Then sometime in January, I might get it out, read it (I’ve never even read it!), edit and revise it, and then… I’m not dumb enough to think it’s something a publisher would want to look at. My sweet agent would probably raise her eyebrow at me if I even hinted at it. This thing was just me dipping my toes in fiction writing to see if it’s something I’d like to study/learn/pursue.

I’m not sure it is.

I’m definitely not a natural at it. The whole plot thing? Ack. Now, dialogue? That’s another thing altogether. People talking to each other? I’m all over that. If I could write a book that was 100% dialogue (or a book of letters!), I might give it a whirl.

If I were on stage accepting an award right now for “winning” NaNoWriMo, I’d have to thank my husband first. That dude got so into my book. He wanted to help me invent characters and plot twists. He gave me ideas and mapped out a time line. He even made a map of the world (one of my characters lives in Ohio and one in Cambodia–original, I know).

Speaking of original, most of my characters and plot were modeled after someone/some experience I’m familiar with. Apparently, I’m lacking in the imagination department. Because much of the story takes place in Cambodia–in an orphanage even–I’m thinking of ways I could use the “book” to help raise money for the missionary (love you, Jen!) and kiddos our church supports over there.

Gabe and I have tossed around the idea of making a website for the “book.” (And yes, I’m going to keep writing the word “book” in quotations.) Like, start in February and post a page of the book each day. And if you just can’t wait (ha!) a whole year to finish the book, you can make a donation to the Coins for Cambodia Fund, and I’ll send you the whole manuscript.

You like-a?

If you’ve ever considered writing a novel, I highly recommend NaNoWriMo as a great place to start. There’s no pressure. You can write 50,000 words of pure waste, and you still win. No one sees your novel. It doesn’t matter how awful it is. You just write and write and write. And worry about making it good later. Or never.

Can you see yourself writing a novel someday?

14 thoughts on “anyone can write a novel

  1. Jennifer

    I had a good time with it… but I cheated and kept going back to revise, adding more and more to the beginning. Which could be why I ended up at the 50K point with a neverending story. But fun nonetheless! I would definitely do it again.

  2. Valerie

    Fiction…no. Eventually..perhaps someday when I’m in a better spot and our situation is just a mere memory, perhaps I will write about our journey. There are some good IF books out there but most are written from an older perspective; there aren’t many out there from a young perspective…so perhaps eventually by writing I could help someone feeling lost and alone about my age.

    Sorry I just kind of started rambling there…. you’ll eventually either learn to love or hate that about me.

  3. O mom

    I am a little shocked that everyone said no……..
    I have so much going on in my brain sometimes; people, situations, conversations…..I feel like if I don’t get it down on paper I could go crazy. Is that normal? I think somewhere down the road that I could write a novel. All in God’s timing though.

  4. Kaye

    Congratulations on finishing and winning:) Yea Marla!
    No, don’t see myself writing anything…ever!!!
    Look forward to reading ‘your’ writing though!!!!
    Blessings always,
    Matthew 21:22

  5. Liz

    I absolutely cannot see myself writing a novel someday. I am buckling under the pressure just thinking about it. But I love reading other people’s novels!

  6. Shari Risoff

    Thank you! I was hoping that some “real writers” would talk NaNo from their point of view. I started a novel as well – it began on a weekend… but then Monday came around and the more-than-full-time-job that I already have. But it was not the time constraints that made me not finish the novel… it was the realization that I am not naturally a fiction novelist.

    I too ended up writing about people I already know & couldn’t invent new ones… I couldn’t come up with anything resembling a plot. I too could write a book of letters and realized that it’s ok if I stick to non-fiction.

    I’m planning to start over with a non-fiction book in the month of January (after holidays) and see where it goes!
    Anyone else want to join me?

  7. Rachel

    I was thinking of joining in next year, but now you’ve turned me off! 🙂 Just kidding.

    It seems like a lot of work, and I haven’t written fiction since I was in grade school. Don’t know if I would be good at it. Maybe I could change the rules and write some non-fiction? Nah – that would be crazy!

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