The Reservoir and the Dam Burst

What's he talking about now, you may well ask (as I suspect you often do), going on about a reservoir and a dam burst? 

Well, I was asked this week how to successfully make it all the way through writing a novel. A good point, as the things are usually about 100,000 words long and take months of work. 

My way of making sure you've got the spirit to get through is this - 


It's a watery lesson, hence the visual interlude of my beloved River Exe enjoying a misty autumn sunrise. 

So, it goes like this - 

When I have the idea for the book, and I've toyed with it for a couple of weeks, and know it'll work, I then play it cool and force it to wait. 

The urge might be to start writing the thing straight away, but no! There's a better way. 

This is the dam - 

I plan the novel for several months. Shape it, hone it, work on the characters, the settings, the story, the twists and turns, the start and ending. 

And when I've done that, I hone them all some more. Make sure they're all sorted and ready to be written. 

This is the reservoir, building up behind the dam. The growing excitement with the book, the people it'll feature, the events it'll describe. 

I let them agitate for several months, all held at bay, until they're screaming, yearning to be set free...

And then burst the dam, let them go, and finally start writing. 

That way, with all the stored energy running free at last, I've got the momentum to write my way through the months and 100,000 words.