5 Tips for First Time Novelists

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Writing isn’t easy, especially when you’re trying to craft something the size of a novel. Starting with a few good tips, however, can help you beat the odds and complete your first book. Your story is waiting, so it’s time to get started.

Write about Your Passions

First and foremost, you need to write about something you genuinely care about. If all the popular books are original world fantasies, but you want to write about a librarian who loves sports cars, then write about that librarian. Never worry about the market for your novel. By the time you finish writing, the market will have changed, anyway. The best work comes from personal insight and enthusiasm, so follow your interests.

Keep the Pressure Low

Writing a novel involves many steps, but you should only worry about one at a time. Don’t stress about how imperfect your first draft is. You already know you’ll redraft it, so the first draft’s quality doesn’t matter in the long run, does it? Focus on what you’re doing and give yourself some wiggle room for error. Don’t try to make this step perfect, just try to finish taking it. That is the only way you’ll make progress. A novel takes time, and no matter how hard you stress, you’ll never make a perfect first draft. Adding that kind of pressure only destroys your will to write. So go get some tea, take a deep breath, and forget about everything but what you’re doing right now.

Write Every Day

You’ve probably heard this tip before, but you need to hear it again. Write every day. Not most days. Not when you feel like it. Write every single day. Feel free to take an afternoon off when you finish your first draft. The next day, however, you need to be back at work. It’s a pretty simple tip, but it’s probably the most important advice any published author has ever given.

Build a Support Team

While it’s possible to write a novel alone, most people benefit from support. Some writers need a cheerleading squad to help them push through and get a little more work done every week. Pretty much every writer who ever lived wants to see the reaction their first story elicits. After all, writing is about communication. If you didn’t want other people to see your work, you wouldn’t have written it in the first place.

Reward Yourself

When you accomplish significant tasks, like finishing a draft, completing a round of editing, or accepting peer reviews without starting a fight, you should reward yourself. Throw a party, go sightseeing, or watch your favorite movie with a personal half-gallon of ice cream in the privacy of your own home. You’ve earned it. Enjoy whatever fun thing you’ve put off in favor of hitting that word count and suffering through those edits.

Finishing a novel is a huge accomplishment. You’ll need some reminders, discipline, and support to get there, but you can do it. Never forget the most important writing tip of all: remember to have fun!


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1 Comment

  1. David Speckhardt Sr. on

    Made some good points about writing something every day; for I might go days and even weeks before I get back to my writing. When that happens I find it harder to sit down and write something. But if I write something every day I stay focused on my storyline. Also, by writing something every day even if it is just a paragraph or two, I get excited about what I am writing and sometimes I need to force myself to stop so I can go to work.

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