Sunday, November 20, 2011

The College Guide to Writing A Novel

Library at Trinity College, Dublin: It was beautiful.

I was thinking about this the other day and I couldn't quite see how I could possibly managed to be that great writer. You know, the one who wakes up at 4am to work on their novel because there isn't enough time in a day? Or the one who, after midnight, begins their edits? Or the one who is determined to find time to write in a day.

Let me explain: If I woke up at 4am, well..that just wouldn't happen first of all. I already do not fall asleep until like 1...2...or 3am (last night it was 3am). The chances of me waking up early to write are zero. But let's say hypothetically, I did. Well, I wouldn't write--why? Well, I'd think of all the homework I could get out of the way. For instance, I have three papers due, an art history exam, and some reviews and responses to write for Body Image. My reasoning is: If I get these out of the way, I can write. Writing is my reward for doing homework.

Okay, now you want to know why I don't write when I finish homework? Well sometimes I do, but other times it's as if the homework NEVER ends. I mean, I'm making straight A's this semester! (YAY!) Never done that before (it's because I don't have a job), and you'd think I'd do more because I don't have a job and I only have school. Well, I'm a Senior first off, and if I don't have a tight schedule (which I don't), I don't feel motivated.

That said, now that I'm attempting to get my straight A's in order and am surprised by how well I'm doing, I'm freaked out! I don't want to compromise this!

However, unlike other years, I have had boughs of wonderful inspiration to write. It's all my creative energy returning because I'm not so bogged down in school and I love it. The question is, how do I managed these boughs and go to school? Not even simply school, but when I'm busy?

Here's what I do...and it's probably not the best advice, but it works!

1) I write in a boring class. 
I know it's horrible, but I happen to write a ton in Art History. There is a reason: we don't have to take notes and all I need to be there fore is to recognize pictures. Granted, I'm an English major in a predominately Art History major room, but I being studying a month ahead of the exam cause I know I'm not a seasoned Art History buff.

2) Write before class. Especially if it's lecture!
Usually I wrote on notebooks, but recently I've been writing a lot on my Itouch and I always make sure I write before class. I suppose this could be said of waiting on appointments or really anything. The point is, I know when I get home, I'm probably not going to be writing, so I better do it on campus when my mind is working.

3) Use a planner
I don't use the planner to schedule writing time, I use it to plan out my weeks, meaning: I plan to do all my homework at the beginning of the week so I can have free time at the end of it. This doesn't always work if I have an exam, but it gives me a good chunk of time to write!

4) Realize school is important 
It's so hard for me to choose between writing and school. And I get super disappointed when my mind is like "You know what you have to do!" And I do. Remember--we're in college for a reason, we're always writers even if we don't get to write like we want. So, if you have a ton of homework and a busy week, focus on that. Writing will come later.

5) However, if you're stressed
Try and write in some way--a blog for instance. I know when I wasn't writing (which is my stress reliever) I was all sorts of tired and stressed and it was not good! And I think it hindered me more than anything. It also stressed me out to think I wasn't focusing on my book and I was becoming a terrible writing because of that, which brings me to #6.

6) You aren't a bad writer if you don't write
Can't tell you how many times I felt I was losing my ability to write. In college, you're focused so much energy on so many subjects which include papers, lectures, books, some super difficult thoughts. It's all working your mind really well, and it takes your creative ability away. I'm just now getting mine back. You know what I realized? I needed those two years away from my novel though--that was that break I needed so I could fall in love with my book again. So don't take it so negatively as I did and think "this will help me love my writing once again!"

I hope those helped even those of you who aren't in school. =)
Much love!
& Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Hey I'm right there with you! College really sucks the writing life out of me in a major way. I don't have a fun major like you though, I have lots of science-y "ology" classes. I also write in class, usually in my economics one! If you've ever had one, you'll understand.

    The semester is nearing the end and I'm dying to get back to my characters--I actually miss them! It feels so good to get back into the flow of writing, it helps me relieve stress and get out some creative energy.

    Good luck darling!

  2. Thanks, Emmy!
    Ugh, no, I couldn't do anything science-y. My mind literally refuses to think in that way. lol. That said, at least you will be able to find a job! It's gonna be pretty hard for me. :/
    lol. I couldn't imagine having economics...or being able to write in a class like that, LOL.
    Good luck! It's nearing the end of the semester! AHAH!!

  3. Wonderful post!!! It is SOOOO hard finding the time, and I especially struggle with your #6! I just had an entire week go by and I started fearing for my literary ability (or inability, lol).

    HANG IN THERE!!! You'll be done with school before you know it!! *HUGS*

  4. You have a good head on your shoulders, Ashley! I have a feeling you'll succeed at whatever you set your mind to!

  5. @ Barbara - LOL! I struggle with all these! Even still! The difference is, I know what's going on now! Oh yes! One more semester! AHAHA! I'm sooo nervous!

    @ Krystal - Thank you! <3 I sure hope you're right! lol.

  6. Just write when you can :) thanks for stopping by my blog!

  7. It's not easy to find time to write, but you're right you just have to keep being the best person you can be and write what you can. Great post!

  8. Shelli - No problem! I love visiting blogs! :D If I had my computer, I'd be there all the time.

    J.A. - Thank you! :D

  9. great blog and I get where you are coming from. One could write a novel about all of the reasons not to write.

  10. Ashley, as someone who did a degree in Eng Lit through distance learning, I can tell you that the study very much aids the writing. Not just with all the amazing new books you’re exposed to but also with the essay writing. You’d be amazed how academic writing helps your own writing, as regards structure, editing, punctuation, etc.

    Slightly puzzled at your dislike of art history, though. I know you (like me) love history and my wife is just completing her art degree and I found the art history stuff she was studying fascinating. Bad lecturer, perhaps?

  11. @ Derek - I agree! I'm an English Writing major, which is mostly, as you know, academic writing, and though I'm not very good at it, I know I've gotten so much better with punctuation, economy, and composition! I have really enjoyed the books I've been exposed too (especially from my world lit. class, those were wonderful books!).

    Art history, well...I thought it would be history, you know? But it's not. It's a class where we're shown a slide show every day. The professor is so sweet, but he talks so low, no one can hear him, he even has a mic, but he doesn't turn it up loud enough for anyone to listen, even still. He gives a little history, but not enough, it's disappointing. I've read a lot, but I look forward to lectures, and if I'm not hearing anything in class to keep my engaged, I can't manage in class. I do well on my own, but I know if I had a great lecture class on these artists and their styles, I'd do a lot better and enjoy it more!