Writing my first novel

I’ve always wanted to write a novel but I’ve never had the ideas or the commitment and perseverance to finish one. The longest thing I’d ever written prior to the novel was my 10,000 word creative dissertation and I even found that hard going in terms of sustaining ideas.

At the time the idea for my novel began, I wasn’t even thinking of writing one. I’d joined a writing group in Sunderland and had just got back into writing anything at all. Most of what I was writing were short pieces inspired by the prompts we used in meetings.

One month I was desperately trying to write something to submit for critique but was struggling. In the end, I just typed, ‘Write something. Anything.’ into the computer. This became the starting point for my novel. Although it no longer is, it was the first line of my novel for a long time. I only ditched it when I met with an agent who told me that it sounded like it came from a writing prompt!

I submitted the piece for critique to my writing group and people suggested to me that it had the potential for a novel. I wasn’t sure, the idea was so vague and there were so many questions I couldn’t answer, but when I thought about my character being locked in this room and forced to write I started to like her. I didn’t really know where to begin so I trundled along writing bits and pieces towards the story, with no real plan in mind. I was adamant that I didn’t want or need one.

By far the best thing that happened for me was being accepted onto a mentorship programme to take a novel from the first idea to the final draft. I learned so much, answered so many questions, built my world and built my character. It turned out that I really did need a plan! I learned how to write a half decent synopsis (still work to do there) and how to prepare my novel for submission. By the end of the course I had a complete first draft and was so chuffed just to have finished.

Of course it was far from finished and the editing process was a different journey altogether. I found it much harder to motivate myself to do it, especially when huge plot holes were pointed out and I had no idea how to fill them. However, the sense of achievement I had each time I resolved a problem, or made it to the end of an edit, felt fantastic, maybe even better than completing my first draft.

Lots of people ask me how my book is coming along and when it will be published. I know that the next stage will probably be the hardest. Writing a cover letter, tweaking the synopsis, researching suitable agents and fine-tuning each submission, are all out of my comfort zone and beyond my level of expertise. If I don’t get an agent, or no-one wants to publish it (and believe me I know how hard that will be) it will still have been worth it. I will have finished writing a novel and not that many people can say that.

So if you have the same goal as me, or any writing aspirations whatsoever, get on your laptop and just get going. The effort and the struggle will be well worth it in the end (honest).