Do you want to be a writer? Join me as I write. I share the good, bad, and ugly of putting the story together, getting it published, and learning how to promote it. I share my thoughts and feelings, my good ideas and bad ones, what works and what doesn't.
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If you are a regular visitor to my blog you will notice I
did not title this one Word Count Wednesday. I promise I will give the word
count at the end as usual, but I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some
of the questions I have received about writing a novel. In particular, I have
fielded questions from friends, acquaintances, and readers of my blog. Many are
interested in writing a novel or short story themselves. Hey, we all have a story to tell, right?
My purpose in creating the blog was to a) learn how to blog,
b) share the journey with others interested in the process of writing, and c)
to hold myself accountable to the commitment I had made to write every day.
Well, I am learning a bit and the blog does serve to hold me
I hope my musings have helped some who are interested in the
Now though, I feel compelled to address three very specific
questions for those of you who really want to write but can’t seem to get
started. Or finished.
I hope you find this helpful.
Q: Where do you get an idea and then how do
you know it will be good enough to sustain a whole book?
A: I get my ideas from life. Not always my
own, but certainly the “what if that happened to me” kind of question triggers
my imagination. As for sustainability, I sort of play with the idea like a
movie taking shape in my mind. If I can imagine a strong beginning event to
open the story, a strong event or turning point for the middle of my story, and
a strong event to end my story, then I think it is worth sketching out on
Q: When do you
find time to write?
A: I learned a long time ago that we always
make time for the things we want to do. That’s not to say we don’t lead busy
lives. We do. When I was a graduate student, I gave myself “office hours.” I
had a husband, three active daughters, and a full time job teaching. I am not
superwoman. I had to allot myself designated time to work on my thesis. Before
I did that, I was always carrying a canvas bag with me everywhere, just hoping
to get in some reading or writing. I carried it to my daughters’ swim meets,
dance lessons, and music lessons. But once I gave myself a designated hour
after the children were in bed (and only for five days a week), I suddenly
became more productive as well as more involved in the family activities. Now
my children are grown. I find myself writing in the evening. The point is this:
Designate a time and place to write. And remember this: It doesn’t have to be
every day. For many years, I spent an hour or so every Sunday writing out what
I had learned about myself through the Sunday morning sermon at our church. In
the words of the great philosopher, Nike, Just Do It.
Q: You keep talking about a word count. Are
there really set word counts for novels and stuff?
A: Yes. And no. When I was a professor at
Cincinnati Christian University I would often give a research paper assignment to
my students. I would inevitably get questions like “How long does this have to
be, Dr. Waters?” My pat answer was always, “Until it is finished.” I did have
certain guidelines, though, and I would tell them that unless they were
superbly compact writers, they could probably expect their papers to be at
least five to seven pages. It would take that many pages to adequately address
the topic. In the world of writing, there are guidelines as well. A well-developed
novel is typically around 80,000 words in length. Of course there are
exceptions and a well-written book could be shorter. Or longer. Since I am also
interested in writing children’s books, I have researched that market as well.
Every publisher and resource I have found is consistently clear: Picture books
(even if the word count is 500 words) are designed to be thirty-two pages.
And with that bit
of information, I will leave you with my latest word count.
At present I am
at 46,050 words.
However, on Sunday afternoon, I printed off the first ninety-eight pages to take with me on a short trip to Orlando, Florida. Now that I have real paper in my hands, I know I will be whipping out the pencil. I have a lot of editing and rearranging to do. Who knows what the word count will be by this time next week? I may be in for a real surprise.