We’re a few weeks into the new year and thus far I’ve finished one chapter, and started what is hopefully my last. With an exerted effort to rise early a few days this week, and one night of writing, I should finish!
This pending completion makes me think back to when I first began. What things do I wish I knew before I began this process? Not the obvious, “it is a difficult road and takes a tremendous effort”, but a few pieces of advice to help me get out the first draft as fast and coherently as possible.
So below you will find a list of five things I wish I would have known or done before I began, to help with the process of creating a novel.
1. Time Management– This is crucial. Take a survey of your week and carve out time once a day, once every few days, or once a week to work on your novel. I HIGHLY recommend some form of weekly writing rhythm. If you write once a month, you will probably see little to no improvement and it may take the entire time just to get into the groove of your story. Also, it may very well feel so disjointed that it reads like a corroborated work rather than a sole author composing it.
2. Write What You Know – Many many professionals say this in their books on writing. Example – Don’t write a non-fiction book about astrophysicists if you don’t know what they are or do. And, if you want to write a book about astrophysicists – get to know one and ask them a lot of questions. Or, read a lot of books in that field or about them so you can have something intelligent to say.
3. Read Books in the same field/genre– This is something I did not do a lot of until later in the process. In order to write something unique and new you need to know what is out there, what sells, what is on the New York Times Bestsellers list, etc. Know the field, and you will know where you fit.
4. Don’t Think. Write!! – At least when constructing your first draft. Once you have clear direction and understand the problem of your story, how the characters meet, the tension, and how it will end, I say hit the keyboard or notebook as often as possible. Don’t spend too much time on the first draft, just get it done.
I have no one to quote here, but I am nearly positive that there has never been a novelist that has completed their first draft and then handed it to the press for printing and distribution.
5. Have Kind Knowledgeable People Read Your Stuff – Anyone can fall in love with their own stories, just as one can see past their own faults or the faults of their children. However, there are also those that will shred your hopes and dreams without batting an eye. So please have forgiving but honest and gracious people read your script and give feedback. Preferably people who do a lot of reading.
Thank you for reading.