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There’s only one way to write a novel

The Seven Myths of Novel Writing

Have you found The One? No, I’m not talking about your one true love, I’m talking ‘the One True Path’ to writing a novel. It’s easy to get lost in a wealth of systems and formulas, hoping the next one will really be ‘The One’ that will show you how to do to. Many (most?) of the systems for writing a novel out there like to act as if they are ‘The One’. Well, I know the only (truly the only) way to write a novel – I’ll tell you what it is in a minute, and I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

What if it’s all a myth?

But what if this idea of The One was a red herring? What if finding a way of doing it wasn’t the real problem? What if the idea that there’s one way to write a novel – and all other systems are suspicious, problematic, or downright shallow – is a myth? I reckon there are seven of myths of novel writing and I’m going to write about them over the next few days.

The best systems are flexible

So, let me debunk the first myth of novel writing. There isn’t one system for doing it – it isn’t true that if only you could find the right system, your novel would flow from your fingers, you could redraft and publish it and make a fortune. In fact, waiting for The One True way of doing it might just be a form of procrastination. The best systems are the ones that don’t invite you to follow them religiously, those that come with in built flexibility.

Here are some alternatives:

  1. You might follow a system with a few of your own adaptations for your first draft, and then no longer need it.
  2. You might find a handful of resources that really chime with you, that you find inspirational, that you adapt into a system that works for you.
  3. You might write the first draft intuitively, week by week, month by month, and then use guidance from a couple of books on novel writing in order to finish it.

If you want a system, I suggest one in How to Write a Novel and Get It Published, but I also point you in the direction of other resources that I’ve found useful myself.

Here’s what one reviewer said about the book:

What I liked about her approach was that it was not dogmatic. Try this way, try that way, try another way, merge them or create you way, but the bottom line is, if you want to be a writer, write.”

There’s no way I’m going to tell you that my way is the One Way to write a novel – because I don’t believe that’s true.

Want to know what The One Way to write a novel truly is?

Want to know what The One Way to write a novel truly is? It’s surprisingly simple. Are you ready for it? (Drum roll.) It’s this: turn up and do it. Make space for it in your life. Stop doing something else. Sit down and write something, anything, and then do it again. Make a habit out of it.

The Seven Myths of Novel Writing – all seven posts in one list

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