Justin here from Out of the Gutter Magazine. In addition to my pimp duties for OOTG, I am a writer and have been accepted to the Taos Writers Workshop this summer. I'm taking a novel writing class with John Dufresne and have just finished the required 300 pages. I just mailed these off.

Of course the week before deadline I had to take off from my day job, take the computer into my tool shed(to be offline), and obsessively stayed up every night until 4-am rewriting almost every page. Closer to the deadline, my supportive wife started picking fights with me because I had lost the ability to speak about anything besides writing. I had extremely bad headaches and now feel like a zombie. Any interruption, like when my kids would visit the tool-shed to ask where the peanut butter was, would cost me about thirty minutes to get back in the zone.

I was happy with the work, but the intensity of concentration to work on something so large is exhausting.

Is this a normal part of writing novels?
Did the next novel get any easier to write?
Any helpful insight would be wonderful...

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the real injuries start when you try selling the book, but all the cuts that scab over will over time make your hide tougher.
That sounds like writing under a deadline.

Yep, that final stretch can be exhausting, especially when it all wants to come out at once and you can't stop until it's all on paper. It's just part of being a writer.
Justin, your first novel is a mountain you must climb. The goal is to finish, and have a well defined beginning, middle and end. So very many start that all important first novel, but few actually finish.

Even when you do finish, most first novels are really just the practice novel where you've (hopefully) learned your craft. The key to success, IMO, is to evaluate what was done wrong in your first novel, what your weaknesses are, and then figure out how to improve them in your second novel.

I just started writing my second - it's been 8 years since I finished the first (bad) novel - and I can tell you it does get much easier the second time - but only if you learn from your mistakes the first time.
PS: I've got arthritic fingers, wrist/back pains and serious eye strain from all that writing.
wow, thanks for sharing that. You're making me glad I'm getting this one out of the way. I have to grab a yoga class, my lower back has been killing me from sitting to much.
I feel for you. Every time I get into my zone and really get going, comes the interruption. Never fails, and it's a miracle that I ever get anything done. Right now I've been on a novel for months and now I'm at a climax toward the end and just can't seem to stay put long enough to get it done. But until I start opening envelopes with big paychecks in them, I can't very well justify artistic tantrums—so I just piddle around and write stuff like this. :)
Ouch, ouch, and ouch. I am so rooting for you to have this novel published.
At some point or other in the process, each of my novels (I'm on my third) has taken over my life, invaded my dreams and put every other concern on the back burner. Problem being, all that stuff on the back of the stove boils over and causes a friggin' mess, poisons the cat and makes an enemy of the landlady.

Because I'm single, I get to ignore everything but the world I'm creating. It's disconcerting, though, to realize afterwards that your friends are no longer in the habit of dropping by or calling - or even wondering where you are.

So, I'm lonelier now, but definitely more fulfilled.

BTW, for each of my novels, I slogged out the first 50K words in one month - under the influence of NaNoWriMo.org. Try it in November to jumpstart your next idea. For me, it was good to be able to be very intensive for a month, then to work under a more reasonable schedule for the time it took to finish.

Best of luck.

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