Five Years and Counting…Writing My First Novel
by Ofelia Montelongo
It was not so long ago that I decided to quit my financial job to dedicate my life to my new business and my writing. I finished the first draft of my first novel in 2013, but why is it still taking so long? As writers, we have a never-ending job of creating and trying to be perfectionists at every level. And I guess for beginner writers like myself, we want to try to do the best we can in our first work, so we are taken seriously in the literary world.
This is my story of what I have learned during the five years I have been writing my first novel.
FIRST YEAR (2010-2011): During my first year, I set up myself the challenge of finishing my novel in nine months. After trying to keep up with my challenge, life and work intruded on my plans, and by the end of the year, I ended up with four of the 10 chapters I had planned.
- Make realistic plans for your novel and your writing.
- Always have a backup plan.
SECOND YEAR (2011-2012): During my second year, I pushed my writing aside and lived my life as it came along. I only was able to write one chapter of my novel. I only wrote when I had time, but nothing scheduled and nothing planned.
- Plans change, and if you do not give yourself a change to write again, life will pass by and your writing dream will be pushed away.
THIRD YEAR (2012-2013): During my third year, I convinced myself that I was capable of finishing my novel. I finished the first draft in August 2013 as a thirtieth birthday present to myself. I added two more chapters at the end and finished 12 of 12 chapters!
- You need a deadline to finish your first draft, or you will be going around in circles without realistic dates.
- Do this for yourself, and not for those whom you hope to potentially make happy or proud.
FOURTH YEAR (2013-2014): I started taking creative writing classes at Scottsdale Community College and joined workshops to critique my novel. The editing fun began!
I finished my second draft.
- Help! You will always need help. Writing is a lonely process, but you need someone to read and critique your work; that is the only way to get better at what you do.
- Study the craft of writing. We all think we can write, but only when you read and get some techniques down can you actually start shining as a writer.
FIFTH YEAR (2014-2015): I quit my job at the end of 2014 to finally give my writing a real opportunity in my life, instead of just making it a hobby. I finished my third draft and I had a professional help me edit my whole novel!
- Again, get help. Once you have a complete draft, get it to an editor to review it, and then finish another draft.
- Join a group of local writers to get ideas on how to publish (I found an awesome one in Phoenix) and be open to suggestions and to share ideas of your own!
OVERALL LESSONS LEARNED:
- There is not a right time to finish a novel. You set your own terms.
- The only way to finish your novel is to keep writing and to keep working; there is no other way.
In the years to come, I plan to keep studying the craft of creative writing and whenever get the courage, I will start sending my latest draft to agents and perhaps publishers. In the meantime, I will keep working and writing!
Ofelia Montelongo is an aspiring published author. She is writing her first novel, Pilgrims or Something Like That. Originally from Mexico, she has a Bachelor’s in accounting and finance and an MBA. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s in English and Creative Writing. Ofelia is also a freelance photographer and has her own business in Scottsdale (Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale). Read more at Writing My First Novel. eMail Ofellia here or “like” her on Facebook.