How do you do this novel writing? Laurie Halse Anderson and Neil Gaiman

Now that I'm working on a novel, I'm racked with insecurities. Can I do it? How do you do it? How do other people do it?

I find other writers' blogs very comforting. Laurie Halse Anderson recently left a character writhing on the cutting room floor, and found her novel is better off for it.

Here's her answer to a query asking if it was hard:

"The different parts of the writing process feel like different countries to me. The etiquette and customs of one country is extremely different from the next. In the early drafts, I include everything that falls into my head and I love it all. I could never cut out a character at that stage. When I get to later drafts, that changes. The only thing that matters is what works best for the story. if I fall in love a character and she doesn't work in the story, she's gets cut. I can always send her flowers, take her to the movies, or go out for coffee with her. But if she isn't a vital thread in the fabric of the story, out she goes."

Neil Gaiman took a huge, anxious leap away from home to get a grip on his novel, then returned with something (pages? confidence?), to home and garden shed and family, and finished.

Here's a bit from a recent blog of his, answering the question of how he writes:

"The truth is, as the truth about so much is in writing, that there are no rules, and even a writer who normally does things one way doesn't have to be consistent. You do what produces pages. You keep moving forward. If I'm really stuck on a scene I'll sometimes skip to the next scene I DO know how to write, and often by the end, the solution to the one I was stuck on is obvious, or I can't even remember why it was a problem." Check out Neil Gaiman's blog for more.

Helpful. Comforting. How we all twitch around and get mental space for some parts of the writing and listen and imagine and then get ruthless and use a different part of our brain to rewrite and then send off what we've done to our trusty editors and sit on pins and needles till we hear what is good and what is rotten and we make the changes we can make and send it back again and try to forget all those wonderful characters we spent so much time with. We take to hanging out in cafes without a stricken look on our faces and go to yoga and see friends who probably though we'd died or been incarcerated and pay our ignored, overdue bills.

And then? Start the whole damn thing over again.