The Burning Question

I’ve been asked one question since finishing the rough draft of my novel.

The question is, “how did you do it?”

Sounds like a reasonable question, right – how do you write a novel? You might have wanted to ask this yourself. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, I have a question for you.

What do all of these people do for a living; a surgeon, a carpenter and a chef?

Well, the surgeon operates to remove the patient’s tonsils. A carpenter saws, hammers and sands, creating a cabinet. A chef stir fries veggies and noodles in a wok, to produces a delicious Pad Thai.

Simple enough – but there’s much mystery surrounding the act of writing novels. Nobody really knows what we actually do, how we fill our days.

Is it because we writers seemingly conjure stories, characters and situations out of thin air, using nothing but our imagination? That is seems more like witchcraft and less like real work?

Humans communicate prolifically every day. But for some reason, writing a book is a mystical, other-worldly thing to most people.

So, how does a writer write a book?

I hate to break it to you. It doesn’t involve voodoo, or wizards, or even pulling a genie out of a hat (I know I’m mixing metaphors here, but it seems to fit the absurdity of people’s perceptions of this profession called ‘writing’).

There’s a pretty simple answer.

Writers write.

And it’s such an obvious fact, that people don’t believe you when you say it. They just don’t get it. Surely there must be more to it?

OK so there is more to writing novels than just the act of writing itself. There’s research and characterisation and plotting and embedding themes and ensuring consistency of voice and crafting dialogue and…

You get it. Just like building or creating anything from scratch, there’s a recipe to it, and I’m over-simplifying.

But in the end, how this gets done – how any writing gets done – is by pressing keys on a keyboard, or scribbling in the margins of a notebook, or dictating to a typing monkey (now where can I get me one of those).

Surgeons slice and dice. A carpenter builds wooden things. A chef creates culinary delights.

And, writers write.

And this is exactly how I wrote the rough draft of my novel; by putting one word in front of the other. There you go, mystery solved!

What’s your burning question of the day about writing in general, or novels in particular? Maybe I can answer it for you in the next blog post.

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

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