5 Wonderful Lessons I’ve Learned in Writing A Novel
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving break so far! I am very excited because Christmas (my favorite holiday) is right around the corner!
I decided to embark on a personal challenge to write a novel (or most of it) by the end of the month. 50,000 words, to be precise, as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I was apprehensive beforehand but mostly ECSTATIC! A whole month of writing every single day is not a venture I usually take on, and after careful thought (read: thinking about it for a few minutes haha) I decided to do it.
Of course, I went to my mom literally 2 days before and told her about it, and she instantly gave me her full support.
Which makes sense, given she’s the reason I started writing in the first place. She’s always encouraged me to follow my dreams, and writing is no exception to the rule. She loves it that I am creative and use my gifts for good, but also when I show commitment and discipline (all traits I inherited from her and the Fernández familia). And it’s required A LOT of both of those so far.
For a while now, I’ve been plotting – pun intended – to write a full-length fiction work of my own. I’ve dabbled in fiction before, but never something as extensive as what I’m working on now.
I’ll tell you a few things about my novel! It’s fantasy/dystopian, set in the very distant future, and the current title is Freed by Dysphoria (it may change, though). Here’s a brief synopsis:
Dean, Erya, Miles, Aurelia, Cassian and Zarya were kidnapped at age two by The Generalists to be used as test subjects for weapons. They develop unique abilities and are then rescued by The Individualists at age 8 and taken to a different galaxy, to a planet called Garemthia, where they learn how to live with their new-found powers. A week before their 15th birthdays, their facility is ransacked, and everyone is brutally killed except them. Now they must decide whether they are up to the challenge to be heroes, find out who is the real villain bending their reality, and save themselves before it’s too late.
Intrigued? Well, that’s about all I can tell you. You’ll have to wait until it’s published to read the whole story! I can’t start handing out spoilers like dark chocolate… though I’d really like to, because dark chocolate is delicious and so are my book spoilers XD.
I’ve gathered my confidence from other projects I’ve completed, like “I Love ME!” and the poetry I love to write. And, it has been an uphill battle sometimes, but here I am, over 3 weeks later, and I’m still chugging along.
The minimum amount of words to write every day in order to get to 50,000 is 1,667. And I’ve been working very diligently to meet and even surpass that goal. I stand at over 51,000 words!!! So, I have met my goal!!!! I am so proud of myself. I’ve learned a lot in such a short time, and it’s giving me a self-esteem boost. The late nights were all worth it. And since I met it, and there are 4 days of November left, I’m still going to write at least 1,667 words every day, because *consistency* is awesome and it’s been fun!
I want to share the 5 lessons I’ve learned and that you can get out of writing a novel!
1. I Can Do Hard Things
When I found out I had to write over 1.5 k words A DAY, to reach my goal, I was a little more than shocked. As in, super shocked. I did not think I could do it. (Shout out to my mom and thank you to her because she told me forcibly many times to my face that I am a good writer and need to stop needlessly criticizing myself. I love you, madre.) I can do things that are difficult! And you can too! It takes practice and with the practice, you can improve even more and as humans, our minds condition and adapt, eventually making habits. And so far, I’ve written above the limit every day. That’s something to be happy about.
2. It’s All About Finding the Time
I don’t know if you heard, but procrastinating never got a book done. Ever. And it’s a vicious cycle. There is a fine line between procrastinating and taking care of yourself (see #3). Eliminate distractions! If that means installing one of those fancy apps that only lets you write, do that! (That wouldn’t work for me, because, that’s a lot of pressure, but DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU). Distance yourself from people who don’t give you assist or encourage you. Find a method that makes you happy. I always set aside a specific writing time, and the rest of my family has respected that. In reality, it’s mostly been my mom recognizing how important it is to have quiet and no interruptions, and she’s reminded everyone to give me thinking space.
3. Know When to Stop
You don’t want to stretch yourself so much and write only to forget about your other responsibilities and your relationships. No matter how much you tell yourself, interacting with your OCs (original characters) isn’t all there is to life, talk to people, too. And make sure you get out of the house/apartment/room, because world building and exploring your own universes doesn’t count as going outside, either. Don’t over-extend yourself or hold all-nighters often. Self-care is important, too. Take a shower, brush your teeth and hair, and please hydrate (with water)! Because it’s good for you, that’s why. Another note, I made a goal to myself to write 1,667 words a day, but don’t feel pressured into doing it. You can write 5 or 5,000 words, just be mindful of yourself and recognize that whatever progress you make, as long as it’s intentional and your best, is good progress.
4. PATIENCE *ahem*
I’m dedicating this point to a special person I’m very close to that needs this *looks in the mirror at my own reflection* hahahaha… Writing is not always easy. It takes time, energy, and a lot of emotion. I’ve gotten The Feels™ more times than I can count with my wip (work in progress for those of you who don’t understand the lingo), and it can be draining! When you’re wondering WHAT to do, just follow my acronym, which is literally the word W.H.A.T. WAIT, for further inspiration. HEAL, from emotional setbacks. ASK, a trusted friend for advice. THINK, about what makes you happy. Also, I’ve had to lock up my inner editor in a dark dungeon (at least for now) and it’s helped me soar to new heights. I constantly remind myself that it’s called a first draft for a reason, and it’s not supposed to be perfect. *Editing can happen later, Elisha!*
5. Find Your Purpose
Do it because you love it, not because people tell you to! Sometimes we lose ourselves in the motions, and we begin to forget why we’re doing all of this in the first place. Listen to your heart (ok, it sounds cliché but you get what I mean). Reconnect with the reason behind it all, whether it’s that initial idea you thought of, the world you created, that one self-insert character that is so cool (because, you are too!) or whatever it is. Find it. Hold it close, and don’t let go.
Have I mentioned how much I LOVE writing? This is why. It’s unique for all of us, but it brings us together in a special bond, whether you’re 16 or 76, in a corporate job or a small business or a student, have kids or a cat, it can give us fulfillment, and immeasurable joy.
Happy writing! What are your goals this month?
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