Writing A Novel Is Freakishly Hard

Writing a novel is hard you guys. I mean really hard. I am sure anyone who writes fiction is rolling their eyes at this post already and muttering, “Of course it is, you amateur.” I mean, if any fiction writers are even reading this post that is. Which I doubt they are. Seriously, they are likely far too busy inventing whole new worlds to spend time reading this drivel. They don’t need to listen to me whine about character development, or about staring at the blank page, or about how my characters have made me cry even though I barely have anything written about them yet.

My fictional people are real, in my mind. Sort of like how I am famous in my own mind, but in a more real way. They have hopes and dreams and failure and really hard times. I even know exactly what they look like. I think my sadness for them is keeping me from writing. I already know what the future has in store for them and I want to tell them to turn around and run the other way. “Don’t go down that dark path!” I yell even as I write about them going down that dark path. The only way to help them is to stop writing. I feel a duty to keep these people alive. I am willing to use procrastination to do it. I know, it sounds like I am developing some sort of mental illness over here. Like maybe I think these people really are REAL or maybe like I see dead people…I hope I didn’t just give away the ending.

Anyway, I started Googling “How to write a novel” and all sorts of useful, debilitating information came up. Person A says to do it this way and person B says no, do it this way. Meanwhile I am doing it any old way I can get it out onto the paper…or screen, or old piece of junk mail that happens to be next to me when an idea pops into my head. Is writing a novel a total act of desperation for everyone, or is it just me? Some people have a lot of rules about their writing and some people don’t seem to have any. The best thing I read was not to “tell” people, but to “show” people, especially when it comes to dialogue. Now I am obsessed with listening to how people talk and I started reading first person novels to make sure I am doing it all the right way. Mostly, I just keep telling myself to write something. To write anything. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be there so I can make it good later. Like a skeleton with bones that can be rearranged. OK, that is probably the worst metaphor for bad writing ever written, but one day it might transform into something beautiful. Maybe. Probably not. If only I could get things to make more sense and stop being so flip-floppy and argumentative with myself.

I can’t seem to write in a linear way. I am jumping from the beginning to the middle to the end. I see things developing in my imagination and want to write a random scene down before I forget it. Little pieces of dialogue here and there. At some point this brainstorming approach will all need to be connected by some sort of narrative that makes sense. Or maybe it won’t.  Make sense, that is. I don’t know for sure because I’m lost in a sea of words and ideas. I am hyperventilating on a raft boat in the middle of the ocean with sharks circling….I am hoping I can do it. I don’t really know how to write fiction or a novel. I am better at memoir. I can snatch moments in time out of the air, but how do I connect them all into one story? How do I keep time and space sort of moving in the same direction? How do I create an entire world for these people? How do I do them any justice? They deserve so much more than I can give them. They deserve better words than I can write. They deserve someone with more skill and talent than I can muster with my level of experience, which is zero. I have zero experience! What was I thinking?!

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on my month of writing. Meanwhile I laugh because nobody cares if I write a novel or not. These people I owe my best work to do not even exist. I made them up. Those sharks are not real and I am not on a raft in the ocean. I am on a mountain, drinking coffee and admiring the chickens out the window.  I might be floating, but it’s of my own freewill. My worries and stress about writing are fictional. It’s all fictional. It’s self-inflicted! I can just stop writing fiction right now and all will be right with the world. Except, then my characters won’t exist at all and that sort of makes me sad too.

Writing a novel is hard. I think most people think it is easy. It’s not. It’s hard. It requires discipline and confidence and maybe a touch of insanity. Maybe it causes insanity. Maybe it’s just causing me some insanity. I’ve become more neurotic than ever and that is saying something.

If you have written a novel or are writing a novel, I salute you. You are the Kings and Queens of creativity. Yes, I am showering you with compliments because I am about to ask you for a favor. Please, give me some advice. How do you do it? How do you write a novel? How are you writing a novel? Throw me a life jacket, tow my raft ashore. Drop me some tips in the comment section. Stop the insanity!


My characters thank you in advance. I promise, nobody in my novel can see dead people. Unless, you think they should…I am open to suggestions, obviously.



13 thoughts on “Writing A Novel Is Freakishly Hard”

    1. You’d think with all of the fiction reading we have done that the writing would be a little easier. There should be some sort of natural law about that, right?

  1. I’m trying to write my own as well and you are right, it’s crazy hard to do! I keep starting one and then lose interest and start another, lol. I get as far as a paragraph.

    1. Yes! I have that problem too. Or, suddenly, in the middle of writing about adults I think it would be better as teen fiction if I just changed every single thing about it and started over. I am also struggling with the story telling part. I think I could tell this story in three sentences, does it really need a whole book? It’s all fear. Fear of failing badly. I hate fear. It’s what keeps me back all the time.

  2. I’ve never written a book but used to write short stories. I think the worst possible thing for writing would be to google anything or try to force it. Why the 1 month deadline? I think that’s part of the problem. 3-4 months sounds more reasonable. I’d go about your daily life and the SECOND ideas hit you, run to the computer or a notepad and write them down. You’ve got everything to write already in your mind, you just have to release it. While going about daily chores or driving, you will think of various characters and what they would do in different situations. Use these little inspirations to charge your writing. Get away from the Internet and other distractions. As for not wanting your characters to feel pain or die, then invent a different character to meet an unpleasant end. That way if your book is popular, you can use your favortie characters again! I’m no help but I’m cheering you on.

    1. Thank you for all of these tips. The one month deadline is because I joined Camp NaNoWriMo. I don’t expect to have a real book in a month, just 50,000 words towards one. It’s probably going to take me longer than a month to pull that off so “expect” is probably the wrong word. Especially since I am procrastinating on the Internet so much.

      I have been getting little ideas about my characters and what they would do in certain situations. I’ve been writing them down too. It’s nice to know I am maybe going about this the right way. I see them in my mind like a movie. I hear their voices. I think you are right, I just need to release them…when they are ready to be released!

  3. It may be hard but seeing what you do just with your blog … I know it will be amazing!!

    And I have a “book” I started in high school and it’s amazing and still has about four years to go! LOL So you are way ahead of me! Haha

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  4. 10 years is too long!! You’re not writing “War and Peace” or “The Magic Mountain”. Think of a script for a mini-series. Or “The Little Prince”. Anyway nobody except academics or college students reads bloated 19th century novels. Think Camus or Gide and you can’t go wrong 🙂

    1. Wayne, you are so funny. I can’t imagine writing “War and Peace” …I fell asleep just thinking about it. I meant to say it takes 10 years for it to get written and published. Getting published is really hard, apparently. So, self-publishing is an option I suppose. Don’t want to torture any college students in the future either.

      1. I think you should rethink your thoughts about seeing dead people in your novel. Dead people are real!: My Ouija board told me so 😉 Or you could do that Harry Potter thing. Make the main character a sorceress. She could turn bad girls into toads or something 😀

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