The Creation of a Novel – A Progress Report

Four months ago, I posted an entry to Jennifer’s Journal about how I had recently begun writing a novel. How excited I was to tell you of my ambition! And how I loved and appreciated the likes and the supportive, enthusiastic comments that post generated!

Little did I know then what lay ahead, Dear Readers and Bloggers.

Since the inception of this, my latest creative project, my path has had a few twists, turns and bumps. One of the biggest and most significant was undoubtedly when I decided, after conceiving a plot, creating the characters and developing an outline, to give up on it.

Well, I didn’t exactly give up on this first effort. I know; by now, you are probably thinking “what is this flighty, unfocused female trying to say?” No, I chose to set aside this first plot outline for consideration at a later date. I liked it, but not for right now. Instead, I began working on another, entirely different idea for a book. It is an idea that I felt more comfortable with and felt more capable writing about. So before long I had the new outline completed, new characters imagined, and I was underway.

But Life happens. I was sidetracked, and devastated, by some major personal events that demanded my attention and reflection. Into the mix was the holiday season and the traveling and socializing it required, a wedding, flare-ups of a chronic shoulder tendonitis condition, and then a bout of pneumonia. I blogged through it all, and managed to do some necessary research for the novel while the going was tough.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Thankfully, things have settled down since last month. I got back to writing. I imagined how my characters had been waiting for me, patient yet eager to be actually doing something besides standing around, waiting quietly in the wings, looking at their watches or drumming their fingers. At last they were given something to say, and something to do. Hurray!

As of today, I would venture to guess I am one-quarter to one-third done writing the first draft. I have hopes of completing this draft by late spring, then begin the editing. It is only now I am realizing the dedication and self-discipline needed to write an entire full-length novel, especially when the only deadline you have is one you have invented for yourself. Some days I write over a thousand words, some days five hundred, and some days, none at all. (I try to keep those to a minimum). Even when I am not actually writing, I think about my book a lot. My husband and I will be watching TV or a movie at night, and I’ll suddenly realize I missed a big chunk of the story because I was lost in thoughts of my own story!

As strong and compelling as my conviction is, I still have to fight against my nemesis, procrastination. As I’m sure many of you may empathize, even though I love writing and find it rewarding, it is hard work. And it is natural sometimes to feel you are not in the ideal mood for it. But it is important to push through at those times, and demand that little extra from yourself, even if it is only a couple hundred words or so.  I have come to appreciate that writing for half an hour is better than not writing at all, so one doesn’t lose momentum and focus.

In some ways, I believe we can compare writing a book to training for and running a marathon. Here is an excerpt from  Running for Fitness by Owen Barder, to illustrate:

The marathon distance is exquisitely set to take us beyond our comfort zone, into a realm in which we confront the limitations of our bodies and our minds. We complete the marathon distance only by patient preparation and mental discipline. There are no short cuts, no easy ways out. The marathon takes us up to, and beyond, the limit of human endurance, into an unknown zone where we confront our true selves, and discover our inner strengths and limits.

Please wish me luck on my marathon of writing in the months ahead. Daunting at times? Yes. Worth the sacrifice of time, and the blood, sweat and tears? Absolutely.

Do you have any thoughts about your own experiences with writing? Is there any advice you would like to share?


22 thoughts on “The Creation of a Novel – A Progress Report

    1. Yes, it’s a good comparison because both require a dedication to stick it out for the long haul, to put to the test what you are made of. (Yikes..what am I doing, trying to talk myself out of it?)
      Thanks, for the encouragement, Diana x


  1. We are on the same journey and I appreciate you stopping by my blog and encouraging me to keep going. We can share our experiences. Look forward in seeing you at the finish line. Good luck with the novel.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to stop by. Yes, I would like nothing better than to compare notes in the weeks and months ahead, and commiserate when necessary. We will reach that finish line. Good luck to you too, and please stay in touch.


  2. “When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, everyday a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.”
    Karen Blixen (Author of ‘Out Of Africa’)


  3. Hello Jennifer, thanks for stopping by my blog. Well, the journey has its highs and lows. But I look forward to reading your work someday. ‘Never give up, but write’ is my motto. Will be following you from now on.


  4. I have heard tell that in the geographic locations where it’s snowy and cold, you-all get more writing done. I’m in California–it’s 65 and sunny today. All I want to do is sit in the warmth and sleep.


    1. Jacqui, I hear you. And I envy you, enjoying such nice weather. I have to wait several months longer before it warms up, so I can’t use that as an excuse not to write. So why not use it to my advantage?
      Thanks for making me look at the rain, drizzle and fog in a positive way. 😉


  5. Thanks for liking my Neighbourhood post. I’m impressed by your commitment to this project. Makes me realise that my ‘little’ idea for a simple children’s photo book is well within my grasp if I would just discipline myself to sit down and do it! Thanks for the encouragement! Good luck with the rest of it:)


  6. Jennifer, I’ve never tried to write a novel, but I admire you for working on yours. When I don’t feel like writing but I have time set aside for it I tell myself that I only need to try for 5 or 10 minutes and see what happens…more often than not I end up writing 350 – 500 words without realizing it. It works for gardening and sewing too. And if I do only spend 5-10 minutes then that’s okay since that’s what I had agreed to. 🙂

    Blessings ~ Wendy


  7. Thank You so much for stopping by my (one-entry:0) blog. I was so inspired when I started it, then wondered what was it really that I trying to say? And didn’t write any more. Your interest will hopefully re-inspire me, and as a fellow aspiring author, may the words be with you, too! Thank You again:0)


  8. It all begins with one honest sentence. And go from there. I’d also read Anne LaMott’s “Bird by Bird”, a readable, practical and smile-inducing guide to writing with candor and grit. Don’t stop.—M

    P.S. And thank you for supporting me in my publishing and in stopping frequently by my blog. Writers need a community, and you’re part of mine. Thanks so much.


    1. Aww, you are so welcome, Melissa. You are absolutely right about us needing community; WordPress and this blogging community we share is crucial for me, particularly because I live in such a remote area. Having access to like-minded souls such as yourself has been a godsend, not only for sharing thoughts and blog posts, but it has been a great resource for writing advice.
      I will keep in mind that one honest sentence, and will certainly have a look for “Bird by Bird”. Thank you!
      Jennifer x


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