The Madness of Writing a Novel (in my own words)


I’ve hit my stride, finally. As we are approaching mid-July, I’ve made some pretty good progress with reading and writing. I’m about to hit 26,000 words on my work in progress, and my goal this week is to make it to at least 30,000 words. As well, I’ve finished one book about bookstores and I’m on to another. My pile of these books is pretty tall, so I have a lot to work toward. I’m also finishing the last week of the master’s course I’m teaching, so it’s been a little busy.

What do I mean when I ask how it feels to be in the zone? For me, it means that the characters are alive and well inside my head, and for the time being, I can’t shake them. Their stories need to come out on my blank pages. It’s almost as if I can’t type fast enough or hear all five of them at once. It’s kind of a maniacal feeling, a sort of frenzy of words. It must feel the same way for painters or musicians who have something they need to create. It’s tough to focus on anything else, because the characters have become so real to me at this point, that I’m stressing and worried about them. And, I am striving to give them the time they need to let their stories unfold.

The creative process can feel like utter madness. It can feel overwhelming and intricate; calming and explosive; urgent and methodical. Writing characters that have layers takes time to uncover. Ultimately, these characters are people, always loosely based on my experiences, people I know, stories I’ve heard, or the mere rumblings of my imagination.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the places you will go!” It’s always exciting to see where a work of fiction ends up…and more importantly, how we get there in the process.

Also, I’m loving this book by Veronica Henry so far. Deliciously bookish. 


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Stephanie Verni is Professor of Communication at Stevenson University. She is the author of 5 works of fiction and the co-author of one academic textbook on Event Planning. Her character-driven books are set in beautiful Maryland locations and examine the realities of the human heart. Connect with her on Instagram at stephanie.verni or on Twitter at @stephverni. Or, visit her Amazon page at Stephanie Verni, Author.


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