Look up there at the topic.
Read it again.
Now read it out loud.
Listen, I know that writing a novel can be intimidating. When I was a teenager I started at least half a dozen novels in all sorts of genres: fantasy, science fiction, crime, adventure. And all of them met the same fate: After less than twenty pages of typing, I lost interest, or became intimidated by my inability to progress through the story, or gave up because the characters were boring. The incomplete books stacked up in folders on my computer, never to be completed.
Then something happened: I got desperate.
I was twenty six years old, working as a teacher and desperate to have some form of creative output. Fueled by year old memories of a weird mural I had seen on an anniversary vacation to Paris, I started pecking away at an adventure story.
It was fun.
It was terrible.
I agonized over it for more than six months.
But I had to finish it. I just couldn’t be satisfied with teaching other people how to write expository essays or short stories. I needed to prove to myself that I could write a novel. More: I was kind of bored with life as a middle school English teacher in suburban Virginia, but too afraid (and too poor, and too married, and too anxious) to strike out and create a more exciting life for myself.
But I could write.
I could come home at the end of the day, put on headphones, and lose myself in the music of Hans Zimmer as my mind drifted away from the frustrations of daily life and into the struggles of my protagonist. I dug into the history of Napoleon’s expeditions in Egypt, the rumored locations of biblical relics, maps of modern and ancient Egypt, and the vagaries of the illegal international artifact trade. It was exactly the escape that I needed and eventually… I finished it.
81,747 words in first draft. My first novel is now finished.:-)
— Andrew Linke (@alinke) May 2, 2012
And so can you!
You’re reading this article because you want to write a book. Something inside of you is driving you to do it, a hunger gnawing at your gut, insisting that you won’t be happy until you have created your own little version of the universe.
So do it.
This is your permission.
Oh, we’ll get into the technique later. We’ll talk about developing realistic characters, describing your world, squashing typos and murdering cliches. I’ll tell you about constructing an intricate plot and making sure that the character you are writing is not a total Mary Sue.
But for now, stop making excuses and write.
Don’t think you have time? Write one page. One damn page. That’s 300 words. Neil Gaiman and Stephen King have both expressed the obvious (but inspirational) point that “If you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you’ll have a novel.” (source)
So do it.
Don’t worry about whether it’s good. Don’t worry about whether it makes any sense.
Here, just go ahead and click on this link and create a new document in Google Drive. Call it “My Crappy Novel” or “One Damn Page A Day” or something equally silly. Then start writing!
Only one page. Stop as soon as you’ve filled a page or written 300 words (however you prefer to count).
Post a comment when you’re done with that first page!