Stop Writing A Novel and Write YOUR Novel

I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing these past few weeks, and it’s done wonders. I’m starting to return to doing  things I love—reading fiction and roleplaying being the big two—and it’s helping me get out of my creative rut.

I’ve been watching American Gods on Starz, which I’m enjoying a lot even though I’m not exactly sure what the hell is going on. And, like all great shows, it’s got me going to the source material. As I read through the forward, I came across something that blew my mind. In it, Neil Gaiman shares something that Gene Wolfe told him that immediately clicked as soon as I read it. He said, “You never learn how to write a novel. You only learn to write the novel you’re on.”

Holy crap!

Although I’ve hinted at a similar statement in a previous post, seeing it put so starkly made the light bulb come on. I’ve been so busy worrying about writing a novel that I forgot I was supposed to be writing my novel. By focusing so much on pushing a draft out of my rectum, I’ve neglected to delve deep within myself to discover the unique things I do as a writer that I should be bringing to this novel.

In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until one day, my mind just flicked to a comment a friend of mine wrote about something I do in my fanfic, something that comes so naturally to me that I don’t even know I do it. In so many words, one thing that frequently crops up in my prose fiction is a scene written from the perspective of an entity that is present but not (usually) directly involved in the action.

In the past, I’ve only done a few scenes this way in any given work. But what if I take this thing and try to take it as far as I can? I can get sick of staying in one person’s head too long. I can get sick of staying in my own head too long. Writing from the perspective of something outside the norm stretches my creativity and gives me the variety I crave. (I’m a Gemini; I can’t help it.)

Maybe I should be doing that. Once I have something, I’ll let you know.


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