How to become a novelist...

You don't.

At least this is what my "inner critic" keeps telling me. This whole world seems a bit foreign to me, with it's own language and jargon. Your "inner critic" is actually just you bullying yourself. No one likes a bully, so you shouldn't be one. Shut it out, keep moving those fingers, keep exercising your creativity they say. Hmmm, it is slightly less easy to do in actuality. 

I am a creative person. I was a nightmare for the aptitude testers. Every test came back with the same paradox of fairly equal scores on both creativity and logic. What do you do with an artistic scientist? At least they knew one thing, my interest and ability for clerical stuff was so low that they almost had to introduce negative scoring. So no admin for me, except that about 80% of academia is clerical.

 One of the best ways to procrastinate: Arrange your workspace to Instagram it and wait for the positive feedback.

One of the best ways to procrastinate: Arrange your workspace to Instagram it and wait for the positive feedback.

Anyway, what can I say, I became a scientist with a passion for understanding people and being creative. It means that my website seems like it is written by three different people and my Instagram profile must confuse every person who looks at it, but I guess that just makes me human. Imperfectly perfect as we are. Authenticity should trump likes and followers every time.

Back to writing. Well this month I have had a very interesting mix of all of my interests. I have to write an abstract, make a presentation and am attempting to write a novel. Switching between the roles has made me wonder if the very controversial dissociative personality disorder (popularly called "multiple personality disorder" in the media) may be developing. Ok, that is a little melodramatic, but sometimes my life feels so divided. I think that sometimes our evolutionary tendancy to make "boxes" or categories is a little bit defective, because it fails to account for the fact that each brain is unique and that the boxes shouldn't be for our interests, they should be for ourselves. That way we don't divide ourselves into little pieces and throw them into the box with everyone else's little pieces, we stay whole, yet made up of tiny pieces. Like a puzzle. You'll never see the full picture if all the corners of all the puzzles in the word are put in one box and all the other pieces in another box; you have to keep all the pieces of each individual puzzle together!

So, anyway, I decided that the little piece of me that loved writing and the little piece of me that is very imaginative could have a chance to shine. I found this thing called National Novel Writing Month (look it up, it's awesome). Basically, you and everyone else in the world who wants to write a novel, but finds a way to talk themselves out of doing it via creative procrastination and self doubt, join forces to write 1,667 words each per day for the whole of November. The goal: 50 000 words each by the end of the month and the start of a brilliant novel.

Let's do this I said, it will be fun I said. Well, I have never been in such inner turmoil before. It is one thing for you and everyone who knows you to say what a wonderful novelist you would be and how great your poetry and prose is, but to actually sit down and face that self doubt is something completely different. In a Monty Python skit it would be me and my "inner critic" sitting at a chess table, not really playing the game with skill, but trying to intimidate the other player into giving up. I honestly have a headache from the conflict.

On the one hand, fate was very generous and a Future Learn course: Start Writing Fiction began just before NaNoWriMo 2015 kicked off. It is truly spectacular and offers pearls of wisdom on character creation, plot development and all the rest. It should really be called Becoming Ernest Hemingway for Dummies and it has saved my bacon (I'm all on the bacon side of that research by the way; colon cancer is a risk I'm willing to take to show my devotion to bacon). For emotional support they have great forums, write-ins in your local region and there is something so motivating about knowing that you are not suffering alone. Everyone is also struggling to make rounded characters and a thrilling plot to stretch into 50 000 words. So, in short, to become a novelist you must be prepared to face your "inner critic", find a way to reach goals that pushes you out of your comfort zone and get your support group ready.

We are all made up of atoms, stories and stardust, but I am not a novelist. I am a Stevie and I am writing words that may become a novel written by a creative scientist who hates admin.