Starting, and finishing, a novel can be a daunting prospect, but you can do it if you’re willing to be a little disciplined and try a few different ways of doing things. I’ve compiled a few of the tips that have made the biggest difference to me in my journey as a writer. I hope something here will help you!
Get it out of your head and down on paper or on your computer, word processor or whatever you use.
Plan your writing in the best way for you.
It may take some time to figure out what that best way really is. Some people are Planners (plot their novel out ahead of time), some are Pantsers (write by the seat of their pants) and some are a combination of the two, as I am. I write historicals, so I automatically have a timeline to work my story into. Once I plot out my basic story, with a solid framework offered by the real timeline (planning), I let my characters go to work and tell me the story (pantsing).
Let go of that ‘internal editor’.
While you write your rough draft, just write whatever comes out. It might be junk, but so what? That’s the beauty of a rough draft: you can edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page, so get on with it and progress your story, instead of getting stuck and giving up somewhere back on Chapter 1 or 2.
Do NaNoWriMo this November!
(Or NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, if you’re a junior)
NaNoWriMo is a fun, worldwide, online-linked program where from 1-30 November of every year participants drive towards their goal of writing 50,000 words of their own novel. Yes, 50K words. Why would anyone want to put themselves through that? For me, it’s about getting better at the first and third bullet points, above. You can’t edit a blank page. (yes, I already said that—it’s that important) J
Find a time to write every day.
Not most days, every day.
Finding a time to write undisturbed is not always possible and you may have to get creative. I like to write in bed, before I get caught up in everything I see needs doing around the place. This required changing my bedtime so I am awake before everyone else starts moving around and needing my attention!
Make a Daily Writing Pact.
In his excellent book: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King suggests making an agreement with yourself to write a certain number of words every day, and keeping to it.
No, you don’t get Sundays off.
Or Mondays. This is not a restaurant.
If you want to be an author, act like one, and write.
Even at 500 words per day, in 100 days or just over three months, you will have written 50,000 words.
At 1000 words per day, in the same time period, you’ll have completed the draft of that 100,000 word novel you’ve been dreaming about. For a professional writer, he suggests 2000 words per day.
Do the maths. It works.
Write what you know.
It adds insights that others may never have considered, but I think it’s also good to write what you don’t know much about, using it as a stimulus to learn about things that interest you and keep yourself fresh! If you choose to do this, however, find people who do know about those things you’ve just learned, to ensure you get it right! Especially if it’s about horses. Horse owners (including yours truly–yes, we’re snobs) seem to be intolerant of writers who don’t know their stuff and still try to write about horses. For me, regardless of the intrinsic value of the rest of the story, if a writer doesn’t get the horse parts right, he or she has has lost my confidence, and I simply won’t read it.
Help: Books for beginning writers or beginning editors (or any writers or editors, for that matter).
If you’re a beginning writer, you might read through some of the books mentioned below before you get started. If you’ve already done that draft, definitely read them before you go on.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King.
The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer and Jen Talty
The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
I’ve met many wanna be authors who say: “I started writing a novel once, but never finished it.” I’ll bet my boots they kept going back to edit. How many of these people do you know?
It doesn’t have to happen to you.
Only you control your writing destiny.
Go for it.
With kindest regards,
Writing as Lizzi Tremayne
© Lizzi Tremayne 2015