my Experience of Writing a first novel

I’ve written a short story for the past 5 years. Here’s a few ideas about writing. This is mostly just a personal venting. It’s a comforting though that this piece might help someone else who’s experiencing a writing bout, and thinking of things to do in order to wrap something up to be completed.

Writing a complete book seemed a daunting challenge. I love blogging and during elementary school I was always really keen on writing fiction essays. However, a book is another story.

Aim for a specific page count?

I was ruminating and obsessed with reaching a specific page count goal. It’s not a useful thing. Don’t do that. Just write. Writing will have many other kinds of obstacles. The book’s length should be one the least significant of your worries.

Spot it!

Reserve good spots for writing. For me, it’s a table, laptop, and minimal confusion / distraction. I often listen to Sibelius (classical music).

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

I also try to learn to use shorter spots to write. This used to be really hard for me. When I learned to do it, also the writing kept becoming easier. It doesn’t necessarily take more than 40-60 minutes of concentration, when you can already produce a good chunk of text.

I kept an outline, a memo in Excel spreadsheet. This made the writing more goal-oriented, especially when going for the final 30% of the work, finishing the story.

The finishing part of a book seems real hard. Real hard. The shoelace tying, how I call finishing a book, pins down to:

  • keeping your mind focused
  • don’t let the plot bloat anymore – you can’t “write yourself out of the situation”
  • having confidence to close events
  • deciding a lot of things: what is revealed of the plot?
  • do you plan on writing a sequel?

I noticed that as defenses I tried to allow pushing new twists to the plot, whereas actually I had to instead force myself to finish an ongoing twist. The creative part of my brain is a bit lazy on the shoelace tying. Definitely tries to fabricate stuff instead. But the “judge” part says no.

So I started with a vague idea around year 2015. I was working as a software developer, and the plot of the book is also loosely centered on a mythical startup, which gets turned around in the tides of competition.

There were these glimpses of the plot “floating” around me, and I wrote pretty hectically. Often it was a moment, coming home from work, I had a laptop in the carry case, and I just stopped for a moment, to look at people moving in the subway systems; through shopping malls, eating out. These kind of minute moments of pure brainstorming are really fascinating. It’s here when I get the turnpoints to the story. Things “click” to place.

I borrowed content from past and current real events. Often it happens to me that amidst the busiest time of my life I also get plenty of ideas. Writing is a tool to somehow process and store these.

It felt real easy to produce more text. The book involved a protagonist and a few key roles alongside. During the first year of writing it was quite fragmentary. I added the chapters that describe the character’s backgrounds. It helps a lot with keeping the ethos of the story and also making the experience more consistent.

The next years I kept adding stuff. I think the pace got slower, however. The book stood at somewhere around 35-40 pages. This is the length where I felt a lot of threads were actually “open”. I needed to also think of finishing them.

It’s been a superbly interesting but also at times really hard path. And I’m not yet finished…

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