Many people have mistakenly come here to How Not To Write A Novel when searching for advice on how to not write a novel.
While not writing novels is not our field of expertise, we’ve been around long enough to know that despite the claims of the many expensive in-patient programs available, if you’re truly serious about not writing a novel, the best thing you can do is locate a local twelve-step group. Call your local library; most groups meet in library basements. Friends of ours have managed to not write novels for years at a time with no more than these weekly meetings for support, while still leading outwardly normal lives.
If you’ve tried that route before and find you are still writing a novel, this time around try to avoid spending time with people who are writing novels during your first year. Remember, if it’s gotten to this point, it’s time to admit you have a real problem and make some serious changes.
No, it’s not fair that other people can write novels safely, while you cannot. But if you could write a few pages in the evening after work and still show up at the office the next morning; if you could concentrate on your job without sneaking in a little work on your novel when you think nobody will notice, you wouldn’t be here. You have a disease, and once you start writing a novel, you will be compelled to keep on writing until you are once again completely out of control.
If there are no meetings in your area to help you not write novels, consider attending one of the meetings for those trying to not write screenplays. It might seem strange at first, and the people who attend these meetings might look like a different crowd, a slicker, more superficial crowd, but you’ll find that underneath it all, they need your help just as much as you need theirs.