Thursday, October 14, 2010

Writing a Novel is Like Moving a House

You wouldn’t think there’s a clear correlation between writing a novel and moving house, but when you’re a writer, you tend to draw similarities between everything in life and writing.

Top 3 Reasons Writing a Novel is like Moving House

1. You must plan ahead! Let’s face it…no one ever gets an idea for a novel and cranks it out from page 1. If you do…well…you’re a freak and should be shunned. And, believe me, for a while I thought that I could do that. I would just crank out chapters and one chapter would follow another and so on…until The End. Well, it may work that way for some people, but you’d never try and move a house without prepping. You need a plan. You need to get some boxes, a truck, maybe a few friends with strong backs. You need to go through what you have and pare it down to a manageable load. The same could be true of a novel. You need to have an idea of where it’s headed. Sketch out the rough structure before you take on this house-like behemoth. Otherwise, you might be left with a lot more than you can handle. No one wants to get halfway into the novel and realize they essentially have to start from scratch.

2. Putting the work in early, will pay off in the long run. This sort of runs hand in hand with #1, but planning and executing are two different things. So, you’ve planned ahead, now you have to put the plan in motion. That means busting your butt when you need to and sticking to the game plan. You created a plan for a reason. Stick to it unless you come up with an idea that trumps your original plan. Otherwise, you’ll just end up writing stuff that’ll get deleted later (sort of like moving stuff you’ll just throw out on the other end…like we did). Writing a novel takes a long time. Don’t prolong it by writing things you know you won’t keep. Don’t just churn out words for the sake of the count. Planning ahead should make your goal clear cut. Straying wastes time and energy.

3. The move (first draft) is only half the work! Guess what? You’ve moved! You’ve gotten your story from point A to point Z. Good job. Now it’s all downhill, right? Hmmm…yeah…keep dreaming. You will do as much work, if not more, on the other end. Now, it’s time to unpack and get yourself situated. You may get to the end of your first draft and realize that what you’ve got is a big stack of boxes that sort of resemble all of the ideas you had…but now you’ve got to get them into an order that people will want to read. Maybe you packed in a hurry…and brought along that outdated set of encyclopedias from 1956. Well, it’s not too late. Sure, you probably shouldn’t have wasted your time by adding it in the first place. But, now’s your opportunity to cut it free. Let it go. Clean up the messes that might have occurred during the writing process. Make it into the story you sought to write.

Top 3 Reasons Moving House is Not Like Writing a Novel

1. I never want to move myself again. I’ll pay someone to do it for me next time.

2. You can get friends and family to help you move. Just buy them a case of whatever it is they drink.

3. I’ve never thrown my back out while writing.

Write on.


  1. So now you've got me comparing life to pottery. Hmmmm. Wait. I think it's been done before. We are the clay. God is the potter....

  2. Well, sure...if you want to get all high and mighty about it. ;) But, I think anything that's a creative task can be turned into a life metaphor. The potter seeks perfection in the clay as we all seek perfection in our lives. But, what makes us all beautiful and unique are the imperfections, just like the cracks and bubbles in the clay. :)

  3. Great analogy. I go over my plot again and again to check it all works. I go over my drafts again and again too. I analyse what's going on, draw diagrams, perform experiments to see if I can do things differently. All published writers do. It's hard work, but what you end up with is something far more satisfying than you could have accomplished by just running at it one time and hoping for the best.

  4. I actually love moving. I'm sorry to be so annoying. I have this addiction to clearing things out and packing up the necessities. One day I'll get it down to a few pair of jeans, one good cardigan and whatever else fits in my included. And, yeah, the husband. :)

  5. dwc - I think patience has been the toughest thing to learn as a writer. I sooo want it to be perfect on the first shot. But, I know now that, like most good things, it takes time.

    ff - I mean this with the utmost're a masochist. ;)