It’s come to my attention that a lot of people want to write a novel. It seems like most people think they’ve got a book in them, but for some reason they just haven’t gotten around to writing it.
There are a lot of excuses for not sitting down and actually getting to that novel you’ve always dreamed of writing, but this post isn’t about excuses. I don’t want to hear any of those. Many writers have gotten up a few hours earlier than usual to write in the morning before heading out for work. Many have burned the midnight oil after work to write the book they always dreamed of writing.
Walter Mosely wrote his novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, whilst working full time. I heard an interview with Toni Morrison in which she described handwriting The Bluest Eyes on a legal pad with her baby in her arms. If you really want to write a book you will find a way to make it happen. If it is important to you you’ll make time for it.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Make a commitment to write everyday. Writers write. You can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t. Give yourself an allotted amount of time, whatever you feel like you can set aside: an hour, thirty minutes. Whatever you feel like you can do is fine. Sit in front of your computer, with the internet off preferably, and write something. Write anything at first. This is just to get you used to writing.
Even if you only come up with a couple of sentences that’s fine. You’re just starting out. Writing like everything else in this world require practice. You must be willing to practice in order to get good.
Don’t know where to start? I could be smart and say start from the beginning, but I won’t do that to you. When you write a novel you’ll end up doing a lot of revisions. Where you started the novel originally might not be the place in the story the novel starts once you’ve finished doing your rewrites. A first draft can be cut and switched around. It’s a first draft. Just start from anywhere. Do you have a scene from the book in your head already? Start from there.
Sometimes when I find myself getting a bit stuck about a story I write little bios for the characters in the book. It helps me get a better sense of them and their story. Something in one of those bios might give you the perfect jumping off point to start the book.
To outline or not to outline. Some people swear by an outline. Some people like to just let the story flow out of them naturally. I’ve written both ways. The only way you’ll know which method works best for you is by trying them.
Actionable steps to getting started.
Pick a time to write tomorrow. I don’t care if it’s only 15 minutes. Just pick a time and stick to it. Tell the people you live with that you will be writing at that time and not to disturb you. You may have to wait until the kids have gone to bed. That’s fine. Just make the commitment.
At your designated time sit down at your computer and open up a word processing program. Turn off the internet if possible. You don’t need to have distractions.
Don’t freak out. This should be a relaxing, exciting time for you. You’re about to start your novel. You should feel good about that. Don’t stare at the blank screen and have a panic attack. Close your eyes for a moment and let your mind wander. Don’t fall to sleep;)
Put your fingers on the keyboard and start to write. Write until your time is up or until you feel like you’re finished for the day.
Repeat this process daily and eventually you’ll have the first draft to your novel.
Helpful Hint: You know all that chatter that goes on in your head during the day. Much of it is nonsense like negative self talk. Replace some of that with storytelling. Think about your novel. Work out problems in the plot. Consider your characters’ likes and dislikes. Doing that is a lot more fun than worrying and it will help prepare you for the time you’ve set aside to write. Trust me I know.
Hope this helps.
Photo by JD Hancock