There are a lot of writers out there who have started writing their novel but never finished it. They tend to beat themselves up for this, believing that the reason they gave up was lack of determination. I’ve worked with enough writers though to know that this is not the case. In fact, I’ve actually never met a writer who lacked determination. Instead, the truth is just a bit more insidious.
how to write a book
You’re Just Not That Into It
When you start writing a new novel, it’s like the honeymoon phase of a new love affair. Everything about your story is soooo interesting. You could sit for days and just stare into your protagonist’s eyes. By the time you’ve written the first one-third of your book though, the bloom is off the rose. If you’re not truly compatible with the book you’re trying to write, this is the time you’ll get those red flags loud and clear. Everyone hits that hump in the middle, but if you only dread writing your story and you’re never excited to see it again, it’s time to seriously reevaluate this project.
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You write a little. You go back and read it. You write a little more. You start from the beginning, re-read the first little bit and then read the little bit you just added. You write a tiny bit more onto that but now…you’re starting to feel weird. You’re starting to feel anxious. Sure, you sort of liked what you read, but it could just be improved in so many places. The language is too flowery, or too simple. The structure is too convoluted and it’s obvious any other reader is going to be confused. Maybe you should go back and fix it…here…and here…and right there.
Even in just the last one hundred years, the pace of modern society has zoomed forward astronomically. We jump online and talk to friends instantly, or we jump on a plane and travel a distance in one day that would have taken months using an old-fashioned horse and carriage. We get information where and when and how we need it, and it seems like every kind of commodity we could ever want or need is available at our mega-superstores.
What’s the difference between telepathy and telekinesis? Have the Rolling Stones ever played a show in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania? What actually lives in underwater caves?
If you’re writing a story—any story—chances are that you’ll run into questions that need answers. And these answers are usually relevant, if not essential, to your storyline. When you hit an impasse like this it suddenly seems urgent that you stop writing and turn to research instead. The rational, logical part of your brain steps in and advises that you can’t possibly go on creating your story if you don’t have all the facts yet.