This week, as planned, I started writing my first novella of the year.
It’s not as hard, or scary, as I thought it would be.
If you’ve been paying attention to the goings-on here lately, you already know this is only one of twelve novellas I’m planning on writing this year as part of my first trial run of The Novella Concept. I’ll be writing, publishing and donating all year long (you can join in too, if you want!). I’m only doing this to help other people. Which is why I’m already surprised with my progress.
It’s already teaching me more about writing than I expected. Since I didn’t expect that at all.
I have always been a “long-winded writer.” My choir in college gave that to me as a paper plate award my junior year to prove it. I’ve written a few short stories and plenty of essays and articles, but I’ve always preferred novels. I’ve always liked longer fiction. And honestly, this week was the first time I tried starting anything shorter than a full-length novel since high school, probably.
I’d forgotten how different it is. No, really.
As much as I love (and I really do LOVE) writing novels, it can be overwhelming. I’m one of those writers who really enjoys weaving together a huge cast of characters, and that’s a lot of “people” to keep track of. And 100,000 words is a lot of words to write in the same story. Every once in awhile, I think we need a break. I think we need to write something that’s not quite so complex, or long.
I’ve had a story idea in my head for awhile. But I knew I didn’t want to write an entire novel around it. I didn’t have any ideas for characters specifically. So the other day I sat down and started a rough outline of my novella, which I’m not always comfortable doing when I’m writing a novel. I like to let my creativity, not an outline, guide me.
It’s all coming together a lot faster than I thought it would. I know all the twists and the ending. I have the energy to invest my time and energy into the story without feeling like I’m going to be “stuck” with these same characters for months on end. In four weeks, I’ll be done with this story. Which means, instead of having to stretch out my dedication and patience over a year, I can use it all more intensely in less than a month. And it’s going so well so far.
And there won’t be a 30,000-word slump. Because by that point, I’ll pretty much be finished.
Writing shorter works of fiction really helps you narrow your focus and keeps you motivated. Knowing you’re only going to be working on one story for a shorter amount of time makes it feel much more doable, which is great if you’ve been hesitant to start writing a book because of the time investment. I’m already attached to my characters, but at the same time, I’ve already accepted that it’s not going to be forever. I’m really just letting myself write whatever comes to me, a kind of freedom I don’t always allow.
It may just be for charity, but I’m having so much fun. I can’t wait until you actually for once get to read some of my fiction. It will be a first for pretty much all of you.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.