How To Enjoy Writing Your Novel
An interview with Matt Bell on keeping the magic alive. "I think it's all about confidence tricks."
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Matt Bell is the author of Appleseed (a New York Times Notable Book) and Refuse to Be Done, a guide to novel writing, rewriting, and revision which is out now. It touches on the things we don’t talk enough about in my opinion: confidence tricks and keeping the magic alive so that you enjoy it and therefore continue on with it. Novel-writing isn’t just about good grammar, word-count and structure (that can be done in a later edit), it’s about magic, motivation, fun and self-belief too. He is full of great advice on how to keep going.
Emma: Writing a novel is really difficult and I feel like sometimes authors don't say that because it puts people off, so I love that you say how writing a novel is about doing three drafts, which feels doable. Obviously, there's tons of work within each draft but I feel like you're really on our side, the side of author, in your book. Why does it feel so hard to keep going?
Matt: Obviously, you need talent but I think you can cultivate it, and most of what you need is sort of learnable. But it can be very opaque when you haven't gone through it for the first time. You only see people's finished books, right? And you don't get to have any access to how the book was written ever really, so hopefully my book provides some insight there. It helps to know that the struggles you're having are normal. When I teach novel writing, I teach it as a generative class so everybody starts from zero, and they write together as opposed to bring in a finished book. People can become dismayed because they think they're doing something wrong when really they're doing the exact kind of exploratory discovery writing they're supposed to be doing.
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