On Writing Novels: The things no one warns you about

Shock horror! How DARE she? What kind of writer does that make her? You mean you don’t LOVE every second of every minute that you are writing? She’ll never make it!

That’s what I imagine people will think when I admit there are things about writing that I hate. I mean hate, not just dislike. However, part of me wonders whether there isn’t something that every aspiring (or even, god forbid it, published!) authors can’t stand about writing. So, I’m going to let brutal honesty flow onto the page, and I’m hoping that it will encourage others who feel the same.

Getting up so damn early

When your alarm sounds and you’re shaken from blissful sleep three whole hours before you start work, just so that you can write. You hate the commitment, you hate the sacrifice, but most of all, you just plain hate being out of your warm, cosy bed. You sit, bleary-eyed in front of a computer screen, yawning, and dislike the practice intensely. Any other early morning writers feel the same?

When the words come faster than your fingers

When you are on a roll, and it seems as if the story is playing out in front of you, without any control on your part. Everything is so much better in your head and ideas are springing up left right and centre. Even though you’re a very fast typist, you still can’t keep up, and little gems of descriptions are lost into the big wide world.

Verbs that should exist, but don’t

You know the moment when you can see an action so clearly in your head, but there just isn’t a verb that you know of to describe it? When your mind is crying out for you to use an adverb, but you know that’s the lazy way, that there must be the perfect verb out there, so you try to find it. You sit for an age staring and tapping your fingers, and then you give up and use the adverb anyway, because, you can’t for the life of you find the perfect verb.

Lack of Confidence

That feeling that pounces when you are midway through a sentence, where your stomach drops and your heart beats faster. The little voice in your head which asks “are you really good enough? Why would anyone want to read what you have to say?”. It’s soul destroying, and it takes a person with real grit to shake off the thought and carry on regardless.

There are many reasons why writing a novel is hard, it’s the equivalent of a Marathon if writing were a sport. It takes training, dedication, and sacrifice, but despite all that, we love it. No matter what we achieve, writing a novel is worth the pain. For all the things we hate about writing, there are abundantly more things to love.






60 thoughts on “On Writing Novels: The things no one warns you about

  1. Great article.
    Lack confidence is definitely the worst of these for me, though I am going to try early morning writing so that might become the worst.
    The thing I hate the most though is the painful admittance that even after several edits, what I’ve written just isn’t good enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The early mornings are tough, but I do think the lack of confidence is top of the list even still. If you love writing (not the WHOLE process but most of it), which I imagine you do, then that will come through in your writing. No one starts off perfect, I’m sure you are your biggest critic, and no one else would describe your writing as not good enough.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I am definitely my biggest critic, but I have been left bruised by beta readers in the past. Quite possibly an indication that I need to find more constructive readers.
        And I do love writing; nothing better in my mind.


      2. I’ve found it so helpful. You do get some people who are pretty brutal in their critiques, but if a theme crops up time and time again then it’s a good way of noticing what’s not working. That’s how I learnt most people hated my long sentences, so now I try to keep them short. If you join, let me know, I’ll pop along and give you a critique. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What I hate most while writing is the things I have no control over; whether it’s my neighbour playing her damn piano, cold calls, or road works outside the house. Once my concentration is broke it’s very hard to get it back again.

    “…the moment when you can see an action so clearly in your head, but there just isn’t a verb that you know of to describe it?”

    Oh, I’ve been there so many times; this is very frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. Oh dear, who let your neighbour have a piano? Poor thing. Perhaps add noise cancelling headphones I your Christmas list? Best of luck with your writing and I look forward to reading more from you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I probably wouldn’t notice the piano playing so much, if not for the fact she only plays one piece of music and plays it out of tune. It’s really grating actually.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad I found your blog – I’m also experiencing the highs and lows of attempting to write my first novel but am at a much earlier stage than you so I hope to learn from your experiences. I’m looking forward to reading your previous posts to follow you on your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I’m really glad you’ve found it helpful. I have to say the blog was created out of frustration and needing to connect with others on the same journey. I look forward to reading about your journey also 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with all of these!
    I always felt like i was the only who couldn’t type fast enough! I’ll have to stop my trail of thought to get it all on paper, only to forget what exactly I wanted to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, I know just what you mean. There are times when I hate getting up early too, but I usually get up later. It’s a job like any other. Finding the right verb or word is aggravating at times. You stick with it and move on. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, and thank you. We all have a gift, but sooner or later some of us must face reality that writing may not be what they really want. It’s all about choices. But I’m not trying to discourage anyone. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, I hope you’re enjoying the books you are reading. I find audio books really helpful for listening to when doing chores. It keeps my mind occupied 🙂


  6. YES! Every single one of these! Especially that last one: the lack of confidence. Also, I have the opposite problem of getting up early. I usually write late at night, and then I’m exhausted when I do get up in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy – I applaud your enthusiasm. All the fiction writing instruction I’ve received says to never stop you writing stream to mentally think about the right word (verb) to use – use any “similar” word that comes to mind and keep on writing. Later, during re-writing, you can mentally search for the right word. I hope this is helpful,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment 🙂 this is helpful, thank you. There are some occasions where I see the action clearly and so I strive to find that verb anyway. Perhaps I should try steaming on ahead instead.


  8. Reblogged this on Travels of the Creative Mind and commented:
    I feel like contradictions are what I was made for. I am a massive night owl but all the good work I get done tends to get done in the morning. Specifically, early in the morning. And I hate it. I hate getting up earlier than necessary knowing that if I want to write something good, that is when it will happen.

    Every once in a while that inability to describe something with a beautiful verb comes and it is terrible. For me, it’s enough to not be able to remember how to say a verb. Few days ago, I could not for the life of me remember who to say “he narrowed his eyes” and I started narrowing my eyes at my dad who was eating dinner with my sister. He started to freak out. I muttered to myself, going through words like “squint” and then shaking my head. 10 minutes later it came to me and I thought I would dance with joy.

    There are parts of writing that are tough and sometimes I wish they would disappear, yet at the same time I can’t imagine writing being any different. That feeling of getting past the early mornings, past the forgotten words, past the slow typing, past everything, is wonderful and I wouldn’t give it up for anything!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this and I agree! I tend to think of writing like childbirth. lol It’s like you’re carrying this beautiful thing inside you. You have all these mixed emotions, fear, joy, excitement, pain, etc.

    Pregnancy = Your idea
    Carrying the child = The writing process
    Contractions = The editing process
    Birth + Baby = The finished product

    It may be a hard road, but you walk it one step at a time. No pain, No gain. It’s worth it in the end. After it’s all over all you feel is joy and you want to show it off to the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes yes yes. 100% every bit of this. It’s as if you walked into my head and took my top negative thoughts about writing and wrote them out for me.
    & the only thing more frustrating than getting up three hours early to get some writing in is: getting up three hours early and being completely blocked and unable to form a single human sentence for those three hours. BUT ALAS, once you’re actually at work trying to dedicate some brain space to the job that actually pays your bills, it feels like your entire story will burst straight out of your finger tips if you don’t start writing it.
    Seriously, love your blog! Good luck with your writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You’ve covered what most writers deal with–the “editor” in your head that tells you that you are not good enough, others will judge you harshly, etc. Just keep writing. Get the words on the page. Go back later and find that verb, change the sentence.
    Sounds like you are on the right track. Good luck and just keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your incredibly encouraging comment 🙂 that inner “editor” is a real problem for me sometimes. It’s good to be told to carry on anyways 🙂


  12. Don’t forget rereading a late draft when deep into the page count and realizing the most amazing idea, which will either tie so many things together, or work perfectly as a motif: but you didn’t put it in. Then, having to go back and to find a place, or worse, many places, where it is natural, needed and can work. Then agonizing each time, as you break apart the words sweated over so much already to find room for the idea that works so perfectly, but wondering it you should is it worth it? does it work the way it should, could, might? Should I just abandon it? Usually not, but the additional work when you think you are done….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am not sure why the style is now to kill all adverbs. I agree that sometimes writers use adverbs when a verb would work better. But are all adverbs bad? I’m still wondeing about this rule. So I understand the frustration of hunting for the perfect verb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you know what, I read a book by Dani Atkins this year (the best I’ve read in a long time) and it had LOADS of adverbs. I loved the book so much I started to wonder if the rule was really so important. I’m sticking to it for now, as I don’t want to ruin my chances of being published. I agree with your comment!


  14. As a fellow writer, I relate to the majority of this post! I’m new to blogging, and am very impressed by your blog. I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Breeny, thank you for stopping by. I love your style of book reviews and am looking forward to reading more. My tips for blogging would be –

      a) enjoy it and make friends 🙂
      b) connect up to Goodreads and ask for friends (I am overwhelmed by how many people connected with me when I asked! It’s amazing!)
      c) schedule your posts if you know you’re going to be busy. I have mine all planned up in advance 🙂


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