The year was 2013 and I just finished my first novel for NaNoWriMo.
It changed everything.
Before 2013, I hadn’t finished anything before. Well, maybe a few short stories but not a huge novel. After so many writing sessions, so many hours, so much sweat, blood, snot, tears, and sleep deprivation, I got to the end.
It changed everything because I proved to myself I could do it. I knew what it felt like to finish a full novel and that alone was a bucket of inspiration. Once you know you can do it, suddenly the second time around won’t seem so hard. And the third time will feel even easier. The daunting task of scaling the mountain will no longer terrify you.
Here are some other things I learned from finishing my first novel (essentially by trial and error):
- Writing without an outline is the worst thing you can do.
- Pacing is tremendously important.
- Too many characters slow down a story and make it super long.
- Writing on the fly without any guideposts is like wandering through a dark dog.
I’m sure there’s plenty of other things I learned but those come to mind the most. The point is that writing your first novel is like playing a game of trial and error. You don’t know what your voice is, your style, your flow, or anything. The only way to figure it out is to do it.
At this point, you’re likely on the road to finishing that novel for NaNoWriMo. Consider this tip more of an encouragement than anything.
You’re almost there. Keep going! Finish. Even if it’s a horrible manuscript, you’ll learn so much and can either edit it or start over and write something even better.