Approaching the Big One

       At the end of last week I spent some time wandering through the lush jungle of blogging, writing and book blogs that exists on the internet, trying to decide which of the ones I like to add to my blog roll, and I stumbled across a short post on Block or Not about the link she’d made between time taken to edit a 640 word article, and how much time that would mean she’d need to spend editing her novel, which could feasibly end up around the 60,000 word mark. It’s scary stuff indeed: 94 hours straight, at the same rate, she worked out, although of course in reality editing throws up more writing which throws up editing which requires writing to fill in the gaps, so really, how long is a piece of string? To me, in my fragile, sapling state, it looks vaguely like enough of a challenge to stop you starting in the first place.

      Those of you who’ve read my little 'About' tab will know that as much as I love short stories and flash fiction (and I do, I love them so), I am angling myself towards the completion of the one big project i.e. something of novel length and content and appearance (i.e. a novel). Now, I don’t mind admitting that I’m really rather intimidated by the thought of writing something that long, and only have the vaguest idea of where to start. I’ve got a rough 20,000 words or so, but they are rough words at the moment, and I’m finding other things to do rather than making a concerted effort to progress. As I commented on Block or Not, the only way I can conceive the feasibility of the whole crazy idea in my mind is by thinking of the one big writing project as a collection of short stories, that just so happen to be chronological and linked.

     I just wonder, how do other people deal with this challenge? Do you just keep your head down, keep writing, and forget about the magnitude of the whole thing? Do people maybe write sections as they occur to them and then piece it all together later and hope they form something coherent? What I’d like to know is, how exactly do writers go about 'approaching the big one'? Answers on a postcard please (or below in the comments box!).


  1. Oh, thanks for the link!

    I'm no expert - haven't finished a novel, but I have STARTED one. And it took me a while to work up to it. Very scary thing to do, starting a novel.

    I started with the scene I could see most clearly, which wasn't the start of the story. Now I try to write in order from start to finish, but if a scene pops into my head from further down the track, I write it.

    Whatever works for you - just don't think too much about how many words there are to go! Best way to get writers' block!

  2. No problem! I was relieved to find out that someone else felt the same way (i.e. totally intimidated) about writing a longer piece, so thought I'd talk about it a little here and see if it was a commmon thing!

    That does make sense, starting with the 'clearest' bit to you, and I've done kinda the same thing with the little bit I've written, as well as drafting the start. I guess once you build up a collection of the more-easily-imagined scenes, you then just need to stick them together and fill in the gaps, which seems like a logical way to go. Much less scary than going 'today I am going to write a novel' as well!

    My plan for getting things done in the short term is to plan all my blogging as much as possible so I can clear my schedule for some good, knuckle down, proper writing time... I'll let you know how it goes! Good luck with yours x

  3. Ditto on the word count bit. However, small rewards can be useful (we are still such "drooling over the meat Pavlovian little critters," I think).

    Give yourself a nice cheese danish and a moderately-sized pile of deep-fried peanut butter kisses for every 1,000 words. After two months of this (or bloating to 400 pounds - whichever comes first), reverse course and buy someone else a cheese danish for every 1,000 words. Reverse, repeat as needed.

    Let us know how this works.

  4. And if nothing else, the deep-fried peanut butter kisses would certainly help someone "approach the big one."

  5. Well, that definitely sounds like a tasty approach that would provide me with lots of energy to tackle the battle that is 'appraoching the big one'... My husband has just read this over my shoulder and has kindly volunteered to be the recipient of cheese danishes in phase two, which might be nice as then we can get massively fat simultaneously and not feel bad for the other, knowing we are both enabling it :)

    I have to ask a stupid question though: what are peanut butter kisses? Like Reese's Pieces, maybe?

  6. http://www.candyfavorites.com/peanut-butter-kisses

    They are kind of like a piece of peanut butter flavored taffy with a gob of real peanut butter inside. At state and county fairs in the midwest, it has become quite the rage to batter and deep-fry anything and everything - candy bars, bits if candy, small children and pets, you name it.

    My wife and I enable each other with martinis, of all things. I drink the clear stuff; she gets the olive. A good arrangement, we both feel, so I think the two of you going with the danish program should be a keeper - I will look for the novel on the shelves soon!

  7. Oooh, they look good! Might have to import some. I don't think man can live by cheese danish alone...

    I like the martini thing... so I guess you're drunk and she's bitter?

    (Comedy joke cymbals)

    (Apologies) :)


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