Writing is one of the most rewarding and engaging artistic pursuits there is. Writing a novel means creating inspiring, multifaceted characters and designing intricately planned and laid out worlds, crafting your own tiny little universe. Studying at a liberal arts college is an excellent backdrop for writing, as you’re constantly surrounded by inspiration from fellow students, lectures and the exploration of knowledge.
But as amazing and fulfilling as writing is, writing a novel can also be one of the most frustrating experiences on the planet. Writer’s block is infuriating, and sometimes we may feel like we just want to trash it all and start over. So how do you navigate the turbulent waters of novel writing? Well here are just a few strategies and tips for surviving the process.
Your Own Space
"Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you." — Zadie Smith
Writing is an extremely personal and introspective thing, and as such it’s important that you find a space where you can be alone with your thoughts and immersed in your work. Distractions are the kryptonite of good writing, because when you’re in the zone and you get pulled out of it, it isn't easy to find your way back again. At an alternative liberal arts college like Shimer, there are a multitude of great places to go to do work alone and undisturbed.
Your writing time should be just that, your time.
Daily and Dedicated Time
Speaking of time, when it comes to writing it’s important to make it a habit – writing every day is the best thing a writer can do. Making a habit of it means you’ll be that much more committed, turning writing from a hobby to second nature. Set aside a chunk of time you’re comfortable with at the same time every day and keep at it. If you like to work at night, after class then do that, if you like to write for an hour in the morning before you start your day, then do that. Whatever works for you.
The Internet Isn’t Your Friend
"It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." — Jonathan Franzen
The internet is one gigantic distraction, and working on a computer with an internet connection can make it more challenging to get anything done. To do your best writing, you need to be immersed in the world you’re creating, not absentmindedly checking Facebook and surfing Buzzfeed. A novel takes dedication, commitment and your absolute full and undivided attention, and not a tiny shred less. When you’re writing, your novel and your characters should be the only things on your mind.
"Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money." — Jonathan Franzen
Perhaps the most important tip of all, when it comes to novel writing you have to be, above all else, honest. There’s nothing exciting or engaging about lackluster, dishonest and phoned-in writing. Write from the heart and write honestly. Don’t write what you think people want - write what you want, and write truthfully. Because you’re attending a liberal arts university, you’ll have proximity to many great writers and academics as sounding boards, so if you’re really on the wrong track, you can get some guidance.
When it all comes down to it, writing is supposed to be a fulfilling, creative exercise – so just stay committed, and let the magic happen.