When Writing a Novel Seems Overwhelming

When I was working in the financial services industry, I occasionally faced a task that seemed insurmountable in the time allotted. My reaction was usually an internal state of panic: the chest tightens, and the pulse increases. Then I’d take a deep breath and tell myself, “Just break it down into manageable parts. Start small and build upon it.”

That’s how writing a novel is. If you look at it on the whole, the task can feel overwhelming. So my advice is: Take a deep breath and break it down into manageable parts.

Break it down into parts.
Good story structure consists of four parts. I discussed those parts in the post Building Your Story on a Solid Foundation.

“Virtually every successful novel you read and movie you see is built on this trusted and proven structural foundation.” ~ Larry Brooks

Break it down into beats.
A good story consists of beats to keep the reader engaged. I discussed those beats in the post Just Beat It: Using a Beat Sheet to Plan Your Story.

“’Let’s beat it out!’ It means it’s time to put all those great scenes and ideas and characters ‘up on the board’ and see what goes where, which character does what, and whether you need every scene you’ve imagined…or have to invent all new ones.” ~ Blake Snyder

Break it down into chapters.

“Titles are important; I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue.” ~ John Irving

Break it down into scenes.

“You can’t write a novel all at once, any more than you can swallow a whale in one gulp. You do have to break it up into smaller chunks. But those smaller chunks aren’t good old familiar short stories. Novels aren’t built out of short stories. They are built out of scenes.” ~ Orson Scott Card

Break it down into sentences.

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates

Break it down into words.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman

 

 

What is the Insecure Writers Support Group?

IWSG badgePurpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.

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