I’ve written four novels now (if you include that terrible teen-becomes-werewolf novel I wrote in high school for a contest but never published) and I suppose that might make me somewhat of an authority to someone who is thinking about sitting down at a computer or legal pad to write a novel.
I’m in the middle of writing my fifth, and so this adds to my credentials I suppose.
I must caveat this post with a warning: Writing a novel may be the most difficult thing you ever do in your entire life. It can be mind numbing, terribly difficult to produce, a daily headache to produce possibly even one workable sentence, and it can also put a strain on a relationship with anyone who doesn’t “get it.”
It does, however, have some excellent personal benefits that I will detail here:
- Writing a Novel is Therapy – Sure. This idea might be a cliche, but it is most definitely true. I am a high school English teacher by trade. I am also the administrator for an alternative education program. I am also the sole coordinator for my district’s online schooling program. I have four children between the ages of 15 and 9. Life is pretty hectic. If I don’t go home each day and find time to write, I get cranky. Writing is where I escape to that strange science fiction world I’ve created, get inside the head of someone else for a while, and forget that my pay scale is 49th in the nation. I forget about that student who is the proverbial horse that will not drink. It relaxes me. It helps me sleep.
- Writing a Novel is a Personal Achievement – The NaNoWriMo is, in some ways, a good thing. It is the impetus that sends millions of writers down the road to finishing a novel. However, if you have to have a special occasion to write a novel then you are really missing the point. Novels come out of people who have a story to tell, who have something to say. There are millions of people who begin the NaNoWriMo but never finish. There are tons of so called writers out there who never finish “that novel they’ve been working on”. To finish the rough draft of a novel, to map out the plot and subplots, to create a host of interesting characters is an incredible feat. If you have done this, then count yourself in a select club of people who have achieved this. Not many do.
- Writing a Novel is Sharing Your Mind With Others – As said in point #2, the novel is a picture of what is going on inside your head. Some of you may balk at this (especially writers of horror novels) but even though there may be terrific violence there possibly is something at the heart of the story that is something I like to call the “soapbox moment”. You have something to say, something to tell the world about what you think about the way things run. Regardless of this, you are sharing something of yourself with the reader when you write a novel. The reader is shown a movie created by you with themes and ideas that (try as you might to hide them) are part of the deepest desires of your heart. My latest novel is at its heart an science fiction mystery adventure story. However, now that I’m nearing completion it is actually a story about being alone, about facing fears, and about dealing with tragedy. Good writers don’t have to try too hard to exude a theme from their work. They just write what they want and it comes out.
How has writing a novel benefitted you? Share below in the comments.