A lot of beginning writers like to imagine how they are going to sit and write a masterpiece that will beat Harry Potter and establish new standards of writing. Well, maybe it’s just my delusion, but anyways, I believe many amateur writers are full of illusions and expectations about their first novel. This is meritorious, and by all means, I don’t want to discourage them; in this post, I’d want to point out some peculiarities that many writers face sooner or later.
- Your initial idea of everything (I mean creative and/or academic writing) may change radically. Yeah, you’ve got a detailed plan, you know exactly how your story is going to be written, here is your outline, blah blah…. The fact is that in 90% of the cases, the initial idea will either dramatically change, or will undergo serious modifications. I know authors who are able to write a whole story (or paper) exactly the way they initially planned it, but in my opinion, this ability is an exception rather than a rule.
- Good ideas don’t come to you when you are desperately looking for them, but rather when you are relaxed. Sometimes, when I don’t know how to move my story forward, I keep sorting out possible options: I take notes, analyze, try to foresee where this or that solution will take me, and how it will affect the story. But, if I fail to find an appropriate solution within a day or two, I relax and switch to other matters. Usually, a little while after, a suitable idea pops up in my head on its own. It may not be perfect, and perhaps later I will want to change it, but at the moment, it lets me solve a problem, or move the story forward—so I use it.
- The more you write, the more ideas you will come up with. Sometimes writers get writer’s block not from the lack of ideas, but their overwhelming quantity—you don’t know which one to use. In such cases, I usually follow the advice written above.
- Your enthusiasm will fade out quickly. Sometimes even sooner than you expect. You may run out of motivation, inspiration, or any other “-ation” that everyone believes a writer should have. The truth is that writing is little about inspiration, flitting muses, flights of fantasy, and other sugary stuff. Writing is about discipline and organization: you sit at your computer and write; good or bad—it does not matter, you will be editing it later. So, whenever you “just don’t feel like writing today,” you should ignore this feeling, and write anyways.
- Your novel is probably going to be awful. At least, in its first draft. And the second one too. You will have to go through it many times for trimming, rewriting, cutting, and remaking its content. Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” It’s true. So, don’t be discouraged—remember that finishing the storyline is around 40% of the work.
This is not all, of course. Each writer is unique, and so is the writing experience; I tried to point out some of the moments that I think are common for everyone. Anyways, be prepared for more surprises that writing a novel will present you—but don’t give up and keep on writing. Good luck!
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