Writing Long Stories

I consider myself a cathartic writer. I write spontaneously, in the moment, start and finish things on the spot, in the moment. I haven’t always done that. When I was younger – I’m talking five to seven years ago – I used to write long stories like novellas or novels. I was able to remain way more focused and dedicated to writing such things than I am now. But back then, I didn’t have the intense emotions that I acquired through my adolescent life, and hence, no need to release them. Now, however, it’s a different story.

I’m not even churning out short stories as frequently as I was, say, a year ago. BUT whether as reason or consequence, I am back to attempting to write novels, in line with my plan to become Ghana’s most internationally recognised novelist by age 27. (This isn’t arrogance, it’s aspiration. And I am aware it might not end well. Don’t shoot me down, please.) In my endeavours to finally try writing wholesome, fleshy novels again, I have come to realise something: it’s hard to stay in the emotion.

With blog posts or journal entries, it’s like, “I feel this way. I’ll write this and finish. Now I feel this way. I’ll write this other thing and finish.” A novel, however, is long and continuous. It’s impossible to remain within the zones of the emotion that you began with. You can’t be the same level of angry for five months, for example. But you always have to continue, ground characters and story lines, connect scenes, join ideas and flesh them out. So, if I started writing a happy scene and I was happy writing it, I’d come back ready to continue, but I’d be sad, and unable to induce the happy emotion, but have to write anyway. See?

Writing isn’t easy. I fully respect all the ones out there who do this stuff full-time. You’ve done so well. Dedication and passion are basically the only things that keep me tolerating my scatterbrained, attention deficit self and still pursuing this thing. Whew!


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