A few weeks ago, I wrote an op-ed piece about the trials of writing a novel. It turns out that not only am I not the only one with this problem, but there are plenty of people out there willing to give help to a struggling writer. Below are some of the responses I got. Maybe they can help you as well.
I enjoyed your article in this week’s Forsyth Herald. It is a hard job to write a book. But you are a professional writer and it should be easy for you. I am 75 years old and have never written anything other than a memo or letter at work.
I have also been physically challenged in the last four years. I can no longer walk, but my mind is still intact.
Last year, a good friend of mine wrote a self-published book about growing up poor in a dysfunctional family in Flint, Mich. I enjoyed reading it so much that it encouraged me to try to do the same. I started with a simple outline.
Memories flowed back like they happened yesterday. But I got discouraged after agonizing to produce the first 20 pages. I began to think that my entire book would only consume 40 pages at the most. So I walked away for a while. Then one morning, I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I got in my power chair and rode into my makeshift bedroom office. I turned on my computer and began writing. I wrote the rest of the night and into the early morning.
After that, the process became easier. My friend reminded me to go back, reread what I had written and expand on it. I finally finished it at the end of March. I found a website that published it, after I did the set up and covers, for no cost to me. I probably will never sell many copies of my 6-by-9 paperback, but that’s OK with me. I wrote it for my children, grandchildren and future generations.
The book is entitled simply “Remembrances” and can be found under memories and biographies on Amazon. Amazingly enough, it is 214 pages with a family history at the end.
Remember, it’s never too late
H. Lloyd Parrish,
I recently read your article “Writing novels is difficult work” in the local paper. I too am working on my first novel, while trying to juggle being a stay-at-home mom with three children.
The one thing which I found that has truly helped me keep working on my book when time is short or frustration with the book sometimes makes me want to quit, is visualization.
I take a couple of minutes of quiet time each day and visualize my book having been published and selling like hot cakes at Borders and Barnes and Noble.
The second thing I do is to make sure I do something on the book every day – even if I can only spare five minutes. I may write a couple of sentences or edit a page, or go back and read what I have already written.
Incidentally, doing either of the above can also be applied to any goal in life.
Thank you for your refreshingly candid article by a reporter and his or her challenges with writing a novel.
I have written nine books in the past 20 years, seven of which are novels, mostly Christian. The first novel was written according to an arduous schedule I set for myself. I wrote the first draft over 50 consecutive Sunday mornings, from 7 a.m. to noon. This worked, but I never tried it again. Partly, because by then I had come to faith and spent my Sunday mornings more faithfully.
I later found that if I wrote fictional resumes for each of my leading characters, they would not only dictate how the story should progress, but also hold me to their personalities and beliefs and not let me portray them beyond what they were. In addition, my characters always seemed to be talking to me in terms of what might be coming up for them in the story. When your story is moving along, it should be so exciting for you that you cannot wait to move into the next scene or chapter. Ask your characters for help and then listen to them. What sort of conflict is working itself into the life of your protagonist? How would he likely resolve it?
Write on, brother!