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The Long Haul of Novel Writing


Today’s topic comes from QSFer EJ Runyon:

“Found this on another page: ‘…believe in yourself and finish what you start. Most people have an initial idea and write while the fire is hot; when the moment of inspiration passes, they stop. Real writers can’t allow themselves to do this. Book writing is a craft, you’re building something like a house…if you write one page a day, every day, within a year you’ll have a book. If you don’t want to put in that time, you may be a great human being with bunches of good ideas, but don’t kid yourself, you’re not a writer.’ Do you agree?”

It’s true, much of the actual writing process is pretty much drudgery. It’s less true with short stories or flash fiction, but for novellas and novels, a lot of it consists of just showing up day to day and doing the work.

I have a file full of stories that consist of one or two or three starter scenes that I wrote way back when and never finished – they were written while the “fire” was hot. Ovet the last year and a half, I have started taking these, one by one, and doing the work to flesh them out into completed stories. And you know what? I’ve sold most of them so far. :)

I’m now in a novella writing phase, having conquered my fears about writing short stories. I’m on my sixth novella now – two are sold, one is submitted, two are back burnered waiting for completion of two more in that cycle, and I’ve just started on the last.

But I know, sooner or later, I have to try my hand at a novel again. My last attempt fizzled almost 20 years back, when I sent it out to 10 publishers and they all rejected it. So I’m still a bit gun-shy there.

So how about you guys? What’s your experience with writing longer fiction? Is it easy – does it flow like water from your fingertips? Or is it like pulling teeth? And what tips and tricks can you offer to keep it going?

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