If we think of writing in terms of running you might say that writing a novel is a marathon. I certainly do. Whereas a poem is like a hundred meter dash and a short story more like a four hundred meter dash. Novels take more time and endurance. That translates into requiring more care and preparation as well. All forms of writing, regardless of medium, require everything a novel does. Novels, however, I think are a different beast though in that everything is drawn out.
The writing is drawn out, the brainstorming, the editing, revisions, everything. It’s like that because, well, it’s a novel and not a poem. It’s not a short story where things can take and sometimes do take less time. Even the incubation period for novels are longer (and I’ve had poems with some long incubation periods). Bottom line is this: novels are marathons.
In being so that also means that the writer/author must endure, pace, and stay motivated to persevere the novel. This was a topic a friend and I talked about before. They asked me how I kept motivated through the novel. At first I was stumped as to how to answer (which is always the case) because I never thought about what keeps me motivated. I never thought about why I stay motivated or what things I do to overcome burning out or giving up altogether.
I’ve been writing stories since I was a child in middle school, maybe even before that, but middle school is my earliest memory of writing. I love it more than I did then and I loved it then too. I think you have to love writing to actually gain joy from it because it’s not the most interesting thing in the world to do. It’s not the most exciting activity and yet it is. Well, at least not to those looking from the outside in but I digress.
So, the question is what keeps or how do I stay motivated from beginning to end when writing a novel?
I think I’ve said this before in a couple other posts but it’s the excitement of the idea. When an idea hits me one of two things happen: I get really excited beyond reason or I don’t. If I’m on the fence about it it’s because I really like the idea but there’s something about it that doesn’t jive quite right. In this case I’ll let it sit and if I can make it work, then I go for it, even if at some point I’m not feeling it. Because things always take a turn in the course of writing a novel so why not? And if I don’t like it at all I can always just hit ‘delete’.
It’s that excitement that springboards me. The more I work on it and progress through it the more possibilities pop up. Each possibility brings another level of excitement. Sometimes they don’t and it’s like ‘never mind back to the original story’ but just because the level isn’t raised doesn’t mean I lose the excitement. It just means something didn’t work out but the story, characters, settings, etc. are still cool. See, I have to believe that the story and plot is cool, fresh, fly, dope and off the wall for me to even be interested in writing it in the first place. That belief in the story, plot, characters is what I look for. I have to believe in it to write.I have to believe in it enough to see it through to the end. Otherwise, why am I writing it?
So my passion for writing is why I write novels. Believing in the project is what carries me through the writing from beginning to end. Boiling it down my motivation is: passion and believing in the idea. As for how to keep from burning out, I take frequent breaks and these breaks vary. If I’m on a good writing streak then I’ll take a break from all writing. If I’m not and I’m only writing in spurts then I make use of the down time in between. Even when I am writing, I take breaks during writing that particular project so I don’t wear myself out. Writing can be tough if one doesn’t pace their frequency of writing.