Writing a novel is often compared to running a marathon - the necessary training, tenacity, endurance, passion, and sheer will to finish are shared by both endeavors. I trained for a marathon but never ran the race. It took a long time for me to look at it not as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn a lesson or two and apply those to a fresh challenge. I also worked on my first novel for four years and finally put it aside, incomplete. For that, too, it was difficult to move past the failure mentality but I have and I'm hard at work applying lessons learned to my second novel.
The biggest challenge of my marathon training involved adequate fueling. It seemed like I got the concept of carb loading but I'd lose the energy mid-way through my runs and it was torturous to make it through the next mile. Unsurprisingly, I had the same challenge with my novel. There were moments of excitement and bursts of creativity but I found it difficult to carry that inspired, fueled-up feeling when I got into the thick of things.
The lesson learned in both instances is clear - understand the options and use them. There are a lot of ways to fuel for a run just as there are ways to remain inspired and plow forward during the writing process:
- Be prepared. Come armed with an outline if you're a plotter or dig into your character motivations if you're a pantser. Inspiration is less likely to run away from you if you you have the necessary energy shot in your back pocket.
- Nurture your creativity. There are ways to be creative as it relates to your novel be it from collaging, charting, or making soundtracks. Some writers use these techniques during the pre-writing process but why not use them to get over a writing hurdle?
- Keep writing. Just like there may be an unexpected water fountain around the corner on your run, there may be a burst of inspiration that comes to you as you plug along to the next chapter. The quickest way to become uninspired is to stop writing. Skip to a scene you've been dying to write or experiment with a new plot twist but keep that butt in the chair and those fingers moving.
- Surround yourself with friends. There's nothing like a running partner to cheer you on and there's nothing like a friend who writes and understands the every challenge you're facing. They can often dispense that one tidbit of feedback that's enough to get your fingers typing out that next scene that was giving you problems.
Despite your every preparation, and every fuel available to you, it's still possible to hit the wall. And when that happens? Dig down deep. And cross that finish line.
What is your favorite way to nurture your inspiration during the novel process?
A hard-working, shoe-loving insurance executive by day, Stephanie Janulis moonlights as a historical romance writer. She’s currently working on her second novel and blogging at Write Chic, a website that helps writers cope with the literary lifestyle. She also enjoys training for half-marathons, watching Texas A&M football, and eating her weight in Twinkies.
Thanks so much for your post today, Stephanie! I hope everyone has a chance to pop over to the Write Chic blog which has helpful tips and interesting articles for writers.