Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A couple of tips to help you start writing that novel

Many people love writing and many would like to tackle writing a novel but are not sure how to do it.  The Internet is packed full of writing advice and there are conferences and courses where you can pick up some valuable tips.  Of course, this is no substitute for actually doing it. So here are a couple of tips for anyone wishing to dip their toes in the water.

Start writing

No excuses. Start writing.  Make time to write.  That could be early morning before you go to work or get the children up, lunchtimes, evenings or just a couple of hours at the weekends, but you must write.  Rather obvious, I know.  When I was working full time and running my marketing and training business I could only write on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. But I was fortunate to be doing that and religiously I would write, because I loved doing so. I didn't have a word count.  I just did the best I could for that day. During the working week I used to keep a Dictaphone in the car and when stuck in traffic jams used to dictate ideas into it or work out plot lines.  I also used to carry a notepad and often used my lunchtime to write notes and work on the outline or jot down character descriptions. So no time was ever wasted.

Write the first draft quickly

The first creative draft is often the most enjoyable and the most painful because you have so much in your head that you want to get down on to paper or computer screen and yet you might have gaps in the plot and in character development.  I also like to research as I write so that will hold things up a bit.  However, the key is to get an outline down as quickly as possible probably within four months. This will be a very rough draft with incorrect spellings, missing words and the character motivations and descriptions not fully formed. The key is in letting the creative juices flow, just brain dumping them on to the page.

Don't give up on it

You'll  have good days and bad days but don't give up. Set yourself a goal to finish that first draft no matter what. Also give yourself a time frame to work to: four months, a year, two, whatever suits you.  If you get stuck either write through it, go for a walk, do some gardening or cleaning, knitting, sewing or anything you enjoy but which also lets your mind continue working in the background.  Then return to your writing. And keep writing.

1 comment:

anna.osinski said...

I do really agree with all of these points. I think another thing to try when you are getting your first draft down is to just write down everything that comes to mind prior to starting a more formal outline. It doesn't have to complete sentences, it doesn't have to be in order. It could be an image you have in your head or a brilliant line that you don't want to forget. I think taking some time to sort of get all of your thoughts out on paper allows you to outline better and get a better start. I tend to worry that I'm going to forget something or leave something out, but this helps to assure my brain that I've got my thoughts on paper so I don't need to keep going over it in my mind to make sure I don't forget it.