Lessons Learned While Writing a NovelMaggie Jankuloska

My novel is in its last stages of editing, which is arduous and demanding. It is a story of: love, loss, melancholy and getting up after too many falls. It chronicles the life of writer Tomas Beldomnik and his quest for true love and acceptance following the death of his parents, the murder of his adopted sister and the rejection of his tumultuous first love, Valencia. The story had a vague structure in my mind, but it ended up being something quite different entirely, and I think this is a good thing. So, before I start scouring for publishers or seek other routes to get my novel out there, what has this writer learned from writing The Three Graces of Longing?

I am pretty darn clever to create this little cosmos out of nothing. I am the creator of people who have a story to share, who live in a different place and different time. It is through me that they live and touch readers. I have birthed them.

The cure for writer’s block is tea, pajama bottoms, a scented candle, a folk album, pencil and paper or laptop. Also, writing cannot be forced, sometimes it pours out of you and at other times it doesn’t- it’s as simple as that. .

Spotting missing commas, repetitive adjectives and typos makes you want to pull your hair out.

There are moments of clarity between the hours of midnight and 2AM, when ideas come alive.

Villains are fun to write. As a reader I always sympathise with villains and therefore I aim to create anti-heroes who are flawed, but at the same time real people, whom we can relate to.

Killing off characters is hard, as is writing love scenes which won’t make your readers cringe.

Don’t compare yourself to Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Palahnuik. You are your own person, with your own style and mission through your own literature. Aim for greatness, but don’t let the greatness of other writers threaten you.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of your unpublished book being turned into a film. I already have a playlist of songs I would want on the soundtrack. There’s a lot of Lana Del Rey, Leonard Cohen, Adam Green and Devendra Banhart.

Your characters are you. I find my character neurotic and frustrating at times, but at least he is not one-dimensional and bland. I have unintentionally sprinkled bits and pieces of my own life in each of my characters’ lives.

When you read back and have that moment when you think, ‘Oh wow, this is actually pretty good’ and once again, you get caught up in the story you have written and re-read dozens of times. That’s a great moment.

Imagining yourself at book signings and rubbing shoulders with George R.R Martin is a great motivator to keep your fingers scribbling and typing, while the world sleeps.

Sharing your work can sometimes feel like standing naked in front of a stranger.

Committing to your story is hard in a busy world, but the finished result is worth all the sleepless nights and ink-stains endured. Stay motivated and keep writing away.

You are a writer - keep the title as a badge of honour.

Fear and insecurity are part of the process, learn to silence them.

Keep in touch and check out my novel’s extracts on tumblr.

Image via thecreativepenn

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  1. A los of things in this article could be great quotes!
    Cant wait to read your novel!

  2. Woo! Shoutout to a fellow Melbournian! These tips were great and your novel sounds really interesting! Good luck on finding a publisher! :)