So You Wanna Write a Novel?

Many people believe they have a novel inside them that should be written. Many, though, never get around to writing it. Here are my 10 suggestions for getting it done:

 

1. Tune out all those people who say, “With today’s publishing environment, it’ll never get published. Even more important, tune out your own internal voice that tells you that you’re a lousy writer.

 

2. Study how to format a novel on the internet.

 

3. Take every class you can find on fiction writing. Also, read every book—especially the ones by Stephen King and Anne Lamott.

 

4. Write something every day—and I don’t mean a grocery list. Once you’ve started your novel, try to write 5,000 words each day. Maybe they’ll suck. That’s okay. As Anne Lamott says, “You have to write those shitty first drafts that lead to clarity and sometimes brilliance in second and third drafts.”

 

5. Think of your novel as your new job. Be a professional. Don’t look for excuses to stop writing. Because invariably, you’ll find them.

 

6. From a structure standpoint—your story should start just as something in your protagonist’s life is about to change.

 

7. If you’re an “outline” type, outline. I’m not and wish I were. It saves time.

 

8. Join a really strong critique group. Mind broke up, and I’m looking for another one.

 

9. Open your mind and dreams to possibilities. Some of your best ideas may wake you out of a sound sleep with an “a ha” concept. For me, transcendental meditation helps.

 

10. (MOST IMPORTANT) Sit your backside down in your computer chair and start!

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jeanne charters Jeanne Charters writes about the business of living your life to the fullest. Over the years through her magazine columns, books and blog posts, she has sought to help other women face life's challenges through humor, strength and perseverance.

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