Writing a novel is a big undertaking, and it can be tough to know where to start. However, with a little bit of planning and some dedication, anyone can write a novel. Here are six tips to help you get started and stay on track as you work on your book.
Start with an outline
Before you start writing your novel, it’s a good idea to create an outline of the main plot points and characters. This will give you a roadmap to follow as you write and help you stay on track. Even if you are a plotter or a panster, it’s important to find a method of tracking how you plan and develop stories.
One method of outlining a story is the Save The Cat method.
Set writing goals
It’s important to set achievable writing goals for yourself, whether it’s writing a certain number of words per day or completing a certain number of pages per week. These goals, of course, can be based on your lifestyle and your ability to set time aside to do work. Some writers rely on artist residencies or free time on the weekends. Finding a routine that works for you is what’s best. Having these goals will help you stay motivated and make progress on your novel.
Find a writing routine that works for you
Some people prefer to write in the morning, while others are more productive at night. Experiment with different writing routines to find out what works best for you.
The book, Writers At Work, breaks down the routine of various acclaimed authors. In a 1988 interview, Toni Morrison broke down how she managed to find time to write while working on a packed subway or in between doing childcare for her children.
On finding his own routine, James Baldwin once said:
I start working when everyone has gone to bed. I’ve had to do that ever since I was young — I had to wait until the kids were asleep. And then I was working at various jobs during the day. I’ve always had to write at night. But now that I’m established I do it because I’m alone at night.
Don’t worry about perfection
It’s natural to want to make your writing as good as it can be, but it’s important to remember that your first draft does not have to be perfect. Just focus on getting your ideas down on paper and you can worry about editing later.
Writing a novel can be a daunting task, so it’s important to take breaks to rest and recharge. If you don’t, it can be very easy to fall into writer’s block or struggle to wrangle together pages that won’t make any sense later on.
Taking a break can look like a lot of different things — listening to music, watching movies, hanging out with artist friends, or going on a walk. In this Youtube video on my channel, I break down how I chose to spend my time at a writing residency summer:
As you work on your story, remember to appreciate every step forward, no matter how tiny. This will keep you motivated and make you feel good about your efforts.
Writing a novel is a time-consuming and difficult process, but it can also be extremely gratifying. By following these suggestions and being committed to your work, you’ll be well on your way to finishing your first novel. So, don’t be frightened to begin writing; you never know where it will lead you!