A Beginner’s Guide to Writing That Novel

By: Hannah Grace on Unsplash.com

It can be rather intimidating, beginning anew, especially when you’ve the urge to write a new story but you haven’t any idea where to begin. As I’m coming down to the end of my novel edits, I know that I am going to start working on a new novel soon enough. While, the short stories have really kept me excited, and kept me writing, there is nothing I love more than writing a novel filled to the brim with exciting new adventures – that never seem to end. It can be easy to forget where to begin, what to do, what to keep in mind when you’re beginning a new novel especially if you haven’t done it in a while, or never before. I’d like to share with you all what I’m going to do when I begin tackling this new budding plot of mine, and how I plan to turn it into a novel. I haven’t written an entire novel since NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2018, and it feels like its been ages. There were a lot of things I learned when I began that project, things that I made sure to change so that I’d make sure I finished writing on time. However, this time it’s going to be different because I want to begin outside of NaNoWriMo, and that means I’m going to have to make my own schedule, and stick to it.

This is where I start.

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE to WRITING THAT NOVEL 

Writing a novel is no easy feat, and I can still remember the first time I decided I wanted to give it a try. I had no plan of action, no idea where I was going to begin or how long I planned on working on it, I just knew it was something I wanted to do. At this point in time I hadn’t even heard of NaNoWriMo yet, so I was completely and utterly lost. (I probably should’ve done a little research before I began) but if there’s one thing I learned it’s that there is no concrete way in which a novel should be written, but I have picked up a few tips along the way that I still refer to, and that still help me get to the finish line.

HAVE YOU MADE YOUR SCHEDULE YET?

Whenever I’m starting a new project, in this case a novel, I’d always like to give myself a start date as well as an end date. I want to give myself a realistic timeframe so that I’m not scrambling to get everything done at the last minute, but that I still remain writing consistently. I’d usually give myself about 6 weeks to complete a novel’s first draft in its entirety. This is because, as much of us who have participated in NaNoWriMo know, it can be extremely difficult to write the entire first draft in a month (but it is doable!). I wanted to give myself a bit more breathing room when I’m writing outside of November, and that has certainly worked out best for me. I’d also like to have a consistent amount or timeframe I’d want to work on my novel every day, something workable so that I can fit it into my busy schedule and make sure that it remains a priority. I’d also like to say that I know life can get a bit too hectic sometimes, and that is why whenever I have a bit of free time, I make sure to turn back to writing (especially on the weekends). I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to wake up a tad earlier to get some writing done, and it has made all the difference in my daily routine.

THE OUTLINE

Outlining is something I’ve begun to talk about quite often because it has honestly changed my life. It has changed the way I work, and how efficient I am whilst working. I remember my first few times attempting to write a novel, and how difficult it had been because I had absolutely no idea how to progress or where to take the story next when I haven’t visited it in a while. Now, I usually start out with a rough idea, a short paragraph on what I initially thought of when the idea sprung to life. Then I’d move into a bit of background/history, setting, detailed character profiles, and a short timeline of events. Having a short timeline of events really does help for you to see the bigger picture, and it allows you to set the groundwork for what’s to come, as well as make room for surprises along the way.

GO ALL OUT FOR THAT WRITING SESSION

Sometimes, we’ve had a long day and while we know we really should get back to writing, the idea of sitting down at your desk for another hour or so may feel a bit daunting. When I feel a bit unmotivated to continue, or I simply cannot seem to get myself up and ready to write, I usually work my writing into my relaxation routine. I’ll have pour myself a cup of tea, light a candle, read for twenty or so minutes, and then pull out my laptop to get writing. It doesn’t always have to feel like work. Occasionally, we need to remind ourselves that we don’t need to put too much pressure on our writing, we can simply just enjoy it for a little while. Remembering that has really helped me to stay writing even when I’m really having an off day.

WRITING AND RESEARCH SESSIONS

When I’m working on a new project I’d usually like to schedule one session specifically for writing, and one specifically for brainstorming and research (so I can let those ideas simmer for a while). I’d usually like to start the week off with a Monday brainstorming and research session, where I really allow myself to collect ideas and get excited about my story, so that come later that evening or early Tuesday morning, I’m ready to pump out a great deal of words. Having separate writing and research sessions really allow me to stay productive, because I give myself the time needed to really work out what’s going on in my novel, as well as continuously get excited about continuing (and this has been incredibly important for me).

READ, READ, READ

There was a time I wouldn’t let myself read while I was working on a novel, because I honestly thought it would sway me too far away from my current projects, that I’d want to make too many changes, etc. – This is not the case. Reading has really helped me to get into the mindset of writing, as well as when I enjoy a story, I want to get back to writing mine, and I don’t feel like whatever book I may be reading influences my work negatively. If anything it simply keeps me motivated, and it does serve as a good break and time away from the novel writing when I do need it. Books are your friend, keep em’ near.

I hope you all have an incredible time writing and I thank you for reading this here blog post!

 

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