“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Much like learning how to swim involves jumping in the swimming pool, the best way to learn how to write a book is by just doing it. Begin writing a story you have always wanted to read. For some, it might mean writing about love; for others, it can be imagining animals talking or their city under alien attack.
If you have thought about an idea, you did it. You have successfully finished the first step of your long, laborious, and enlightening journey of novel writing. Consequently, you might wonder what the next step of such a momentous task would be.
The answer to this is not simple. It would require a lot of hard work, commitment, and diligence. As Louis L’Amour put it, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Luckily, there are many methods you can adopt to simplify your novel-writing process. These methods will not do the writing for you but help you get through the journey faster. The list of tips mentioned below will help you stay passionate, focused, organized, and committed.
Set Daily Goals
It can be extremely difficult to finish a project when there are no deadlines to meet. The thumb rule of novel writing is to write EVERYDAY. Set a daily word count goal and push yourself to meet the goal.
To determine how many words you can write in a day, start by increasing the word limit, from the minimum, for seven days consequently. Eventually, you will recognize a limit that is reasonable for you and will keep you motivated to write regularly.
Outline your Novel
Many writers prefer outlining everything before they dive into the writing process. In an outline, you should include the plot, character development, what happens to them from beginning to end, and how.
If you are wondering how to outline a novel, think of it as a road map with some milestones to cover. Some of the milestones are:
- Ask questions like who the protagonist is, what is the situation, what is the theme of the novel, what is the central conflict, etc.
- Determine the setting of the novel, like time and place.
- Visualize your characters and get to know them personally
- Write your scenes briefly
Organize your writing tools
There are a lot of tools and software available online, which can help you streamline your writing process. The key is not to select the best software available but to choose the one which fulfills all your needs the best. Apart from getting digital software, some physical tools you might want to keep handy are,
- Legal pads
- Stick notes
- Multi-colored pens
- Bulletin board
- Whiteboard markers
Make a Comfy Writing Space
Your writing corner will be a sacred space where you are left completely alone with your novel and characters. A comfortable writing corner can foster great creativity in you. Ensure that your writing space is separate from where you sleep, eat, spend time with your family to put you in a writing mood the moment you enter that space.
Some tips for designing a comfy writing corner:
- Keep room for standing and relaxing your muscles
- Add multiple screens for convenience
- Display motivating quotes or images
- Buy a comfortable chair
- Use desk organizers
Writing daily can be a mentally exhausting and emotionally draining process. Do not be too hard on yourself, and make sure you take regular creative breaks. Use this time to indulge in recreational activities like painting, sketching, swimming, jogging, etc., to keep yourself relaxed and energized.
Utilize this time to catch up with friends and family also. They can be a big support and keep reminding you that you CAN do it.
Do Not Edit While Writing
One of the most common and biggest mistake beginners make is that they edit while writing. Do not edit while writing, as this will interrupt your creative process. Just keep writing and moving forward.
Once you are done with the writing, you can always come back and edit. If not this, then you can follow a system where you determine the number of chapters that you come back to edit before moving further.
Do Not be Afraid to Cut
An important piece of advice for all beginner writers is to know when to cut and remove all the unnecessary words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and even characters. Being a good writer is determined by your ability to edit. It can be difficult to simply delete all your hard work and lovingly written words but always remember to look at the bigger picture.
You can only be a good writer when you are a good reader. Ensure that you read a variety of authors, genres, narrative styles, etc., to hone your writing skills. Reading other writers will help you identify the techniques they implemented to be able to invent a process of your own.
Ask for Help
Do NOT hesitate to ask for help. There might come some problems for which you cannot find solutions. It is completely okay to ask for professional help if need be.
Often when writers are experimenting with different novel genres, some basic but important questions can be how to write an autobiography, what genre sells best in the market, how long should a play be, etc. If you cannot hire professional help, talk to friends and family, and indulge in intensive research.
There are a lot of tips, advice, and theories on novel writing, but they might not all work for you. It is a trial and error method in which you will realize what works the best for you and why. Be it the process you choose or the tools you pick, make sure that they work for you! Follow that, be true to your writing, and soon you will successfully finish your dream novel.
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