Writing a Novel is Like Raising a Child

1. Congratulations you are going to be a  __________!

You can fill in that blank with the word parent or novelist, either one, the process is very much the same. When I first found out that I was pregnant with my son, I tried to do everything right. I took my vitamins, took aqua natal classes and tried to get extra sleep so that he would grow healthy and strong. I read all the parenting books, so that when he arrived, I would know how to do exactly what I was supposed to. I purchased cloth nappies (diapers), so that the world would be a less polluted place in his future. Most of all I imagined what he would be like. The baby growing process took time, energy and patience. The result of all this in my case was a very healthy 9lb 7oz baby boy.

As a writer working on a new novel. I have done all my prewriting activities so that hopefully, I can make my novel as strong as possible. I have studied methods to improve my craft. I have debated to myself the merits of ebooks or paper books and thought of their environmental impacts. And I have certainly imagined the final product. The prewriting phase takes time, energy and patience. Then the result is hopefully a very good foundation to build my novel on.

2. Who needs sleep?

My son was a very hungry baby right from day one. He fed every hour and a half around the clock until he was three months old. Then on the first night he slept longer, I kept waking up to check and make sure he was okay.

Sometimes when I am in the early stages of a novel I lose sleep over it. It too has a hunger or at least my muse does. I can get caught up writing into the wee hours of the morning without thinking because there is so much to feed into the plot. I can lie awake wondering if what I have written is okay.

3. Someone has found their feet.

Once my son began to walk, I could not keep up with him. He was off running every chance he got. He suddenly became the fastest person on the planet.

I have found that once I get the first chapters out of the way, the novel takes on its own life and begins to write itself. Often the ideas flow faster than I can type them or write them.

4. The bumps along the way.

Just like raising my two children is fraught with ups and downs, good times and bad, my writing is very much the same. There were times that I knew the best approach to dealing with my screaming child was to take a deep breath, count to five, hold them close and let them know that even though I was not happy with their behaviour, everything would be okay, all the while trying not to have an emotional outburst myself.

The same goes for the novel. There are times when I get stuck, fed up or even angry at it. Then after looking over the good points, taking a few deep breaths or a bit of a break from it, I can embrace the novel again and work to correct the problem.

Children do not always do, say or act the way you want them to but sometimes their way is funnier, cleverer or more endearing.

The same goes for characters, story lines and other elements in a novel. Sometimes it just turns out better, when you let it write itself.

5. The goodbye

Ultimately as a parent I want to raise strong, well adjusted and independent people who are happy and not afraid to be different or stand up for their beliefs (so far so good, especially when it comes to my strong willed daughter). When I have accomplished that and they are old enough to venture out into the world, I hope to be strong enough to let them go. I will miss them but be proud of them and have confidence in them at the same time.

Ultimately and hopefully someday, I will need to let go of my novels as well. I hope that by nurturing them and ensuring that they are strong works of literature, I will be proud to let them go and be published if given the chance.



About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three who doesn’t really know what she wants to be when she grows up.
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6 Responses to Writing a Novel is Like Raising a Child

  1. billie jo, that was profound! and it also gave my muse a kick in the seat of the pants, for it, along with some things said by a few others in response to my “mania/depression” driven actions of the past few days has made me realize, at least for a while till the next bout of depression, that i am not really writing for others, i am writing to “feed my child”.

    bless you, sweetie, our muses must know each other, for mine must have told yours i needed a “kick in the seat of the pants” today too.

    hugs and much love coming your way,


    • Never write for others Marantha, always write for yourself and for the fact that there is something inside of you that says you have no other choice but to write. Then when you have done that the writing is always more pure. Then gift the world with your stories. You always tell others how talented they are, well you are too. I am glad I could help in some way, intentional or unintentional. Take care!

  2. Jody Moller says:

    Love it Billie-Jo and it is so true. The best bit is that when one of them is driving you crazy (be it the kids or the story) you always have the other one there to throw yourself into!

    • Thanks Jody! I agree, there have been many times when one proved to be a great distraction from the frustrations I have experienced with the other. I often find one inspires me to be better with the other sometimes too!

  3. Gene Lempp says:

    Excellent analogy, Billie Jo. My wife and I have talked about this very thing and you put it quite eloquently. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post 🙂

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