Have You Written a Novel?

NaNoWriMo statistics are out and they’re quite remarkable. Worldwide, participation was up 40% from last year and the number of winners, those who reached the 50,000 words, was up 48%. The numbers? 167,150 participants and 32,173 winners writing a total of 2,427,190,537 words. If you’re a stats geek you’ll find all the info here.

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But statistics aren’t what inspired this post. It’s the numbers and the comments from people on the NaNo forums. I never realized how common it is for people to say they’d like to write a book – people who fantasize about the possibility but who never make the attempt, or who might make a start but never see it through because finding that many words is too daunting.

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Think back. If you’ve written a novel, dredge up the thoughts you had the first time you sat chewing the end of your pencil, staring at the blank page.

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When you finally started writing did you know it was going to be a full-length novel? Or if that was your intended destination were you ever intimidated by the impending journey? Did you hit the proverbial brick wall at any point, and think you weren’t going to finish?

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The big question: what made the difference between you being a novelist or a wannabe?

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17 thoughts on “Have You Written a Novel?

  1. I just had to write. I had to get everything out there. I felt like my story needed to be written. And the first one did–for me. Same with the next two. But stories four and five, I have such great publishing dreams for them!

  2. joylene says:

    It’s 26 years ago. Hard to remember what I was feeling, other than full of grief because my dad was gone. Looking back I realized I did the one thing that made sense: I wrote a book. But at the time I was trying to come to terms with the pain. Seven years later, I wrote THE END, and then guess what I did? Yes, I started another book. Been doing that ever since. I’m on #6 and already have 7 & part of 8 in my head.

    I love writing. Books seems to be it, but I even love leaving comments on blogs such as this. You ask such interesting questions, Careann.

    • There’s no doubt writing can be good therapy. In your case writing for yourself has morphed into a career. I’m glad to hear there are lots more novels following the current ones! 🙂

  3. limabean says:

    I was eleven the first time I wrote a novel. I had no concept of what “good” was, so I thought my novel was brilliant. And when I realized (a year later) that it wasn’t and tried again, I thought I had achieved brilliance again. I was still wrong, but I think the confidence was what got me to “the end.”

    So, now I try to revive that confidence (blindness?) and apply my rear to the chair. It’s hard to make a first draft good, I guess, if there IS no first draft!

    • You can truly say you started writing as a child! If you still yearn to write then yes, you just have to sit down and do it. A blank page is hard to edit. Good luck to you, and thanks for visiting here.

  4. Joanne says:

    When I began my first manuscript, I wasn’t too sure where it would lead, but was determined to finish. I did, and with each page, each edit, I’ve learned more, finetuned the craft, and hope to continue to grow with my words.

  5. iapetus999 says:

    You’re talking about my first time ever?
    that was almost 25 years ago. I just came up with this world of the future and started writing about it. It’s pretty bad but I still work on it now and then. You never forget your first!

  6. Laura Best says:

    I had a lot of practice writing short stories over the years so when I finally decided to write a novel it didn’t seem like such a daunting thing. I’ve written several young adult novels but I’ve also written an adult novel. I haven’t decided what I plan to do with that yet. So many things to consider..

    • With their similarities in structure short stories would have provided good experience for your move into novels. They can be even harder to write because the process has to be condensed within a shorter word count. (I’d love to see that adult novel!)

  7. Jody Hedlund says:

    Oh boy, that’s a great question, Carol. I don’t know if I ever had a moment where I questioned whether I’d be a novelist or wannabe. I think I’ve always known I’m a novelist. I’ve never had trouble writing and completing books. I think the question for me was, do I want to pursue being a published novelist. And there was a long time, when my children were younger, when I didn’t pursue publication.

    I think in my heart I’ll always be a novelist. But I’m not sure that I’ll always pursue publication. I’ll just be open to wherever God is leading me with my writing. Hope that makes sense.

    • “Going public” with our stories is a big step and, as you’re finding, changes the dynamics of the writing process. But storytellers like to share their stories and I’m so glad God has led you to that point. He reveals his plans as we trust and follow… one day at a time. 🙂

  8. Carla Gade says:

    I think I just had to start believing in myself.

    • Carla, I think if this had been an exam question yours would be the right answer! Doubt is a huge obstacle. If you don’t mind me using your response as an example, I may address this is a future post.

  9. dramaquill says:

    So far, I’ve done Nanowrimo twice and never finished either time because I’ve come to see that writing just to write words doesn’t produce anything worth reading in my case.

    But what Nano did for me was make me realize that if you just get your butt in the chair everyday, soon, you’ll have a completed manuscript.

    Thank goodness for Nano cuz I’ve got one novel accepted for publication, a second one 2/3 written and a 3rd one 1/3 written and ideas for more.

    Anyway, enjoyed your blog thoroughly.

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