How Not To Write A Novel

The beach is a great place to relax, from Wikipedia, photo by Maria
The beach is a great place to relax, from Wikipedia, photo by Maria Ly

WSJ’s Take On How To Write a Great Novel

Not long ago, there appeared an article in the Wall Street Journal about How To Write A Great Novel. Even though the WSJ in the 21st century is not quite something that you would call a politically-correct enterprise, I decided to check out the piece anyway; as I have always wanted to create my very own Great American Novel. To my surprise he articlet was a great read, although the title was a bit misleading. That is because there was no writing advice here (Thank God), but instead, the reader was treated with a humorous essay on some of the odd habits, various writers exhibit during the writing process. Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to come up with an idea like this.

In the 1800s there existed a two cent piece, from Wikipedia, photo by Jerry Woody
In the 1800s there existed a two cent piece, from Wikipedia, photo by Jerry Woody

My Dilemma 

I would love to put in my two cents about how to write a novel, but the problem is I haven’t published anything of that length……just a few short stories and those venues were online. Fortunately, all is not lost, for I do have lots of experience with how to not write a novel. So for all you wannabe novelists out there here is the real deal………on how not to write a novel.

the liquor shelves at the Hotel Tirolerhof, from Wikipedia, by xlibber

1. Go to an exotic location! – This is a complete waist of time. Chances you will be so enthralled and overwhelmed by your new environment that you will be unable to write. Wide sandy beaches, five star restaurants, spectacular hiking trails and world-class opera halls can make for a great vacation, but a lousy writing prompt. (However, if you stay in one place long enough to be considered an ex-pat, then this strategy might work)

2. Get Drunk! – True some of the greatest literary bards have been notorious alcoholics (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill come first to mind), but chances are that their best literary works preceded their descent into the bottle. (Then there’s always Hunter Thompson)

3. Get Good Writing Advice! – Yuck…..just the thought of this makes me sick.

4. Surf the Web! – There are a million places, where you find neat sites that eat up your time. Some of my favorites are StumbleUpon, Flickr, Astronomy Picture of the Day, the Smithsonian and National Geographic.

5. Blog! – Actually, blogging could help improve your writing skills, especially if you ever read what your written after its finished. Yet still, there is the issue of why I am I writing this silly post, when I could be working on bigger things. That’s exactly the dilemma I am facing now.

6. Go to the movies! – A lot of fascinating reads have been converted to  entertaining movies, plus there are a few select films that have been made about great writers. (I think Truman Capote rated two) All of this is fine and dandy, but it probably won’t put any words on your page.

7. Get a nice laptop with a state of the art novel writing program! – Kind of expensive and not really necessary. All you need is a lined notebook and a pen. Come to think of it a pencil on plain paper might work too.

8. Go To A Writers’ Conference! – Like number 2, this activity is best left until after you finish your manuscript unless of course you plan to write a novel about a writing conference.

9. Go To a Literary Event! (i.e. book reading or book fair) – A great place to meet other folks, who  are doing the same thing you are. Avoiding a w.i.p.

10. Go To the Library – This activity could be beneficial, if you can find a secluded corner, where nobody can bother. But stay away from the magazine rack, music room and stacks of fiction books. These things only act as distractions.




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