Q&A: Writing a Novel to Completion

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Question: Could you give me some tips on how to finish a novel? In the middle of writing about 20 pages, I end up thinking this isn’t good enough to be finished, any advice?

~ Aisha

Can you answer this question? Please post your advice below.

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Amel is an experienced freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator. She started the Muslim Writers Club as a means of sharing useful information about the art (and business) of writing.
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  1. As-salamu Alaykum, Sister Aisha,

    First of all, congratulations on progressing far enough to even ask this question. Twenty pages of fiction is more than most people will ever produce, even if they are aspiring writers. Writing a novel takes time, dedication, and commitment, and it is way too easy to get discouraged, especially if you nit-pick at your work or seek perfection in your first draft.

    Although I dabble at times, I am not a serious writer of fiction – but I do know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by a large writing project. There is a tremendous amount of coordination that must take place in order for all the pieces to come together. If this is true for, say, a non-fiction article of 5,000 words (which is considered long), then think how much truer it must be for a novel, which could be anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 words.

    In part, that’s why events like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) were established. This is an event that, each November, challenges writers to complete an entire novel in just one month. It sounds corny, but many writers have used it as a motivational tool to get a rough draft out on paper – and it works. I know of several writers who have written solid rough drafts during NaNoWriMo.

    But there is no need to wait until November to start working under the pressure of a deadline. Some people do just fine setting mini-goals, such as writing 1,000 words each day, no matter what. Just think…within 2 to 3 months you would have 60,000 to 90,000 words down on paper, which is essentially a rough draft.

    A friend or writing partner could also provide the motivation, support, and pressure you need to stay committed to your writing goals. If the friend is reading your manuscript as you progress, you will have the additional benefit of regular feedback that may help you determine the direction of your novel.

    Many authors end up discarding massive chunks of their first drafts, and they may go through several more drafts before they are satisfied with the results.

    My daughter sometimes writes novels for fun, and it always amazes me how she fills up notebook after notebook without worrying about things like her handwriting or grammar.

    This is completely normal and does not mean that one’s writing is bad or sub-par. It is just part of the creative process. The ability to let your ideas flow is extremely important. If you are too inhibited, then it will be difficult to let go.

    It takes most people time (think 1 to 2 years) to produce a finished novel – and that is before it is even reviewed by an editor, agent, or publisher, all of whom may require or recommend further changes.

    So, take a deep breath and enjoy the journey you are on.

    If there are any writers of fiction reading this who’d like to chime in with additional thoughts, please share your insights below!

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Publishers for Islamic FictionMy Profile

  2. Salaam,

    Congrats on your 20 pages!!! Every writer reaches that point of self-doubt. You just have to push through it. KEEP WRITING!!!! It also helps to join a writing community. Writing is a solitary activity, it helps to have someone to bounce ideas, get feedback and share in the joys and struggles of writing. Having a support group is so important! NaNoWriMo is also a way to push yourself. There are many writing groups on Facebook, both Muslim and Mainstream. Consider joining a group or two. 🙂 Insha Allah, I wish you all the best!!!

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