Write a Novel in a Year

They say there’s a novel in all of us. Certainly getting your life from where it started to where it is now, wherever that may be, has been a journey of sorts and much of what you’ve seen, done and learned might not be out of place in a novel.

But getting the ideas out of your head and on to a page, or into a computer, isn’t as straightforward as some would-be writers believe. Even thinking about it can be intimidating. A novel may only start with a word, as illustrated above, but getting started is probably hardest of all. Remember the problems Jack Nicholson had in The Shining, pictured above left?

But after listening to those who been part of my creative writing courses over the last ten years or so, and reading some of the superb work they produced, I decided to take the plunge and offer, through the WEA, an opportunity for anybody to write a novel in 12 months.

Those taking part didn’t even need to get out of bed. This was because the lessons were delivered on-line in weekly, two-hour sessions. You didn’t even need to be in the UK, only somewhere on the planet with Broadband.

You didn’t need any qualifications, a degree or GCSE English. You didn’t need to know about grammar or be a good speller. All the participants needed to do was turn on their computer, access the Internet and download some free software called Zoom. This is like Skype or FaceTime in that they could see me, I could see them and we could talk to each other.

Back-up material was posted each week which was downloadable from a private, but dedicated website along with reading suggestions. The numbers on the course were limited.

There were four different courses ranging from planning to editing. There was  a free taster session at the beginning of April followed by a six-week course covering planning and research. A follow-up, five-week course began on 13 June and there was a day-long workshop in August. The next course began in October,  the last is scheduled for February 2019.

We started with 25 enthusiastic, would-be novelists, but predictably the numbers fell away as life got in the way. For some, the venture was highly appealing, but once they got going it proved more overwhelming than they believed possible.

Five have stuck at it. Their ideas are all workable and I have high hopes that they will all complete workmanlike drafts that have an even chance in the tough world of publishing.

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