So, I must admit; trying to complete a novel within my limited available time is just not happening, at least, not in three allotted months it’s not. In this post, I’ll go into the reason’s why trying to write a novel in 3 months might not work for you either.
Problem 1: Getting Distracted by Bright Shiny Objects: Short Fiction
Like so many before, the first trap that led me away from achieving my novel goal was being distracted by something better… the old Shiny Object Syndrome. Watch out for this one. It’s Real.
My Shiny Object is Short Fiction. I’ve become distracted with this whole recent ‘short-fiction’ fad thing :/
Plus, now that I’m really getting back to my writing and reading roots, I’m remembering all my favourite stories, my real favourite stories; and they all happen to be, have you guessed; short stories and novellas. Neil Gaiman’s short fiction is my utmost favourite, as well as some of the Stephen King’s short stories and novellas. I also have a deep fondness for some of the classic shorter works, such as the famous short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and shorts by Joyce and Tolstoy, and also Roald Dahl’s short stories (for adults).
In addition, I read a lot of bizarre short fiction in my teenage years and a lot of obscure science fiction collections of short stories, which has made a deep impression on my literary and writing tendencies.
This newfound desire to write short fiction is really hindering my novel’s progress, especially in meeting the high daily word counts I’ve set for myself. My desire to write more short fiction also stems from my recent epiphany, that I really struggle to finish anything which I start, which leads me to my second issue….
Problem 2: Not Finishing
It doesn’t help that I have an issue with finishing and that in order to overcome this, I know I have to start writing smaller projects, ie, short stories in order to get some momentum going. I understand that I need to start smaller and build a bit of self-confidence in my ability to finish a story. I’ve even posted on this recently.
It also doesn’t help that I recently reread Ray Bradbury’s advice on writing short stories over a year. Now, I’ve actually read two different quotes about this: one, to write a short story each day for a year, and two, to write one short story each week for a year. In either case, by the end of the year, not all the stories will be terrible, meaning, you are bound to be a better writer after the year’s end.
I love this idea, and it has really stuck in my head. The whole idea is really hindering my novel’s progress. I’ve basically halted because I’m so intrigued and desperate to start this challenge.
Writing a story each week is pretty hard. But not if I start with flash fiction. One first draft a day is pretty easy in fact. I usually whip that out at the start of each writing session.
Here lies one of my greatest problems. I create a new story or story idea every friggin day, but then nothing happens with them…. I have all these fragments throughout my notebooks of all these great ideas, first pages of novels, novellas, or short stories.
It’s finishing the damn things….
Problem 3: Unrealistic Goals and Available Time
This was probably the biggest reason for my failure at keeping up with my goal of writing a novel in three months.
I was unrealistic with what I could actually achieve with my available time. A big lesson learnt here.
But one that I really needed to learn. It’s a little depressing that I aired it out in front of you, but I hope you can learn something from my mistakes:
- Be realistic with the time you have
- Don’t set yourself up for failure
- Maybe work your way up, over time, to higher daily word counts
- Know that, whatever time you have or don’t have now, that this may change in the future. Just because you have limited time available at the moment, doesn’t mean it will stay like this forever.
I am a big fan of the 300 Words a Day Method now. It is the best way to start and to make some headway in any writing project you have.
3 Reasons Why I Failed at Writing a Novel in 3 Months
So, these were the reasons for my slacking off on my novel. I was sidetracked by other projects (shiny object syndrome), I have the particular issue of not being able to finish long projects, as well as not having enough available time. I wasn’t realistic with my goals, and greatly overreached in my expectations of myself. But that’s ok. I’m not afraid to admit this.
I know that maybe you, and certain other people can write a novel in three months. I mean, you just have to have an idea, a rough plan, and just sit down and write it. I could have got a lot further than I did, but to be brutally honest, I am struggling as a stay at home mum, and finding time to do everything.
I know I can complete a novel in three months, just not at this point in time.
What I’ve Learnt From This Experience:
I will continue to work on my novel, but it’s now a side project and I’ll go back to writing only 300 words a day on it. This is doable with my workload and time available, and at least I’ll keep moving forward, albeit slowly, to the end goal.
And, in the meantime, I am committing to writing one finished short story each week. If I can write a first draft in one or two 300-word writing sessions, then I can use the remaining week’s daily writing sessions to revise and redraft. This will result in one polished work of short fiction each week.
So, in theory, I will be tackling Ray Bradbury’s challenge of a short story a week for a year, with the hope that I will be an improved writer by the end of the journey, and have 52 finished and polished short stories in my portfolio.
Next week I will follow up with my final review of the book and plan I was following to write my novel, Write a Novel in 10 Minutes a Day by Katharine Grubb.
Have you ever tackled a novel in 3 months? I’d love to hear your experience and how you achieved – or didn’t achieve it:) Please let me know in the comments below.
All the best with your writing, whatever it may be this week:)