People have many gripes and complaints about why they have trouble finishing their Novel. Too heavy a work schedule, not enough time in the day, a busy social life and just plain tired all of the time so that when the Weekend finally arrives they just can’t seem to sit down and concentrate.
You’ve been there, so have I and we know that many of our excuses are just avoidance techniques that have been honed over many years of getting out of our so-called duties. These are the techniques and methods that I use make sure that I will Finish a Novel.
When I began writing my Novel “Madrid Pig” I knew that the initial energy that would be needed would come from enthusiasm and the newness of the project. I would be able to just sit down and start tapping away at the keys and never run out of energy. That was the case. But I was sure a day would come when I had to push myself – everything we do finally becomes “old” or a little mundane – I was ready for it and could adjust and start thinking about times of the day when I should write, and do nothing else. I cancelled sitting down to dinner with my partner. I told her I have a mountain to climb, I’m half way up and I ain’t gonna let go of the ropes for a plate of food.
Setting strict times to write worked for me but then my day job got in the way. By this time, about 18 months into the writing, I would spend every waking hour thinking about two things only, my characters and story technique. How to write a scene, or how to make my character stand out more etc.
To ensure I have enough material to think about I carry the piece of work in progress with me. In my bag, in my mobile phone and I use discarded print-outs of my writing as scrap paper in my job. This last one ensures that I see a few words that I have recently written and I’ll start thinking for a moment. It’s all exposure to the great task. I don’t want to forget the central task of my life, so in the words of Ray Bradbury, “I don’t let reality get in the way of my Fiction”.
Living my daily life this way has given me enormous confidence in knowing that I will finish my novel – and I don’t need to rush it. I want the best work I can find from myself. Everything today is about being quick, push a button and have that Thing, now.
A novel takes time and patience. When we begin to write it we must search for ideas to flesh it out. Then somehow mould characters and locations so that their interactions begin to work on our own memories and summon up part memories and part fictions that seem unique and new to us. The story begins to take shape and its here that we, as writers, begin to find the energy to write and produce stories that are worth telling.
I have once had a week whilst writing Madrid Pig where I thought about chucking in the towel. It was a horrible thought. I wasn’t depressed about the situation I was just being honest with myself. Too much work to do during the day. I work as a teacher. My schedule meant getting up at 6.15 am and leaving home at 7.15am I would come home at 9.30 pm. Knackered, worn out and wiped out. inner Drive told me to sit down and write till midnight then go to bed. I did and it soon took its toll.
I was tired and under fed and of course my enthusiasm for writing was frustrated to the point where I thought I had to get sensible and admit that I don’t have the luxury of writing a novel. I stopped writing for about a week.
Then one day I realised that I was still thinking about my story all of the time and that I was note taking – just in case I needed the notes. My main character didn’t deserve to be thrown on the pile of forgotten character bodies, I needed to ensure that he was still developing. One day I suddenly had a great idea about how to solve a problem in the novel that had constantly bugged me. It was a flash of inspiration that worked fine and gave me an unexpected twist in the story.
I had to sit down and work it, so I started writing my story again. A week had passed and I realised that the break I had given myself was needed to allow the babble of voices and the clashes of action to settle down and order themselves unconsciously. I began working everyday again with a clear mind and a new enthusiasm that was generating great new ideas and giving me lots of energy.
When we write, we learn not only how to write stories and construct really cool storylines, we also learn about how we work. What stops us from thinking and having the ability to work continuously is the enemy. We have to be brutal with ourselves and life around us. I changed my working schedule and took less money. that’s okay with me but when I was considering it I kept thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to live with less. Then I realised that I was already living with less because I was blocking my time and energy to write by chasing the pennies.