Step 1: Buy a laptop.
Step 2: Open laptop and start writing your masterpiece.
Step 3: Boom. Novel finished.
I wish it were that easy! The truth is, most writers will tell you book writing can be a painful and sometimes very tedious process. Admittedly, I’ve entertained delusions of grandeur at various times, but the reality of writing is that if you’re not doing it primarily because you enjoy it, you’ll be disappointed, and probably end up frustrated.
But back to the whole starting a book thing. I know many people out there have great ideas for novels that never actually materialize. For a long time I only ever dreamed about having a book published. I used to get a cool idea for a story, write a paragraph, or maybe even a page, and then get bored and quit. Pretty pathetic, I know. Everything changed once I started taking graduate courses and realized I could actually write well. Which brings me to my first point:
- Become a GOOD writer. Not perfect, mind you, but good enough to properly punctuate and structure sentences. You also want to vary your sentences so they don’t all sound the same. This takes practice and you may want to actually pay attention in English classes. Reading aloud after you’ve written something is a good idea so you can make sure it flows.
- Summarize your story. It helps to know what you’re actually planning to write about! Years ago, I would get story ideas based on existing books or movies. Now my inspiration comes primarily from dreams I have at night. I have vivid dreams and I tend to remember them well the next day. Lots of writers out there outline their whole book before getting started, but I’m usually too eager to begin writing to do this. I find that once I have a main idea, as long as I know the direction the story will take, I just want to get to the fun part.
- Get to know your characters. This is what did it for me. I got through steps one and two, but still found that I was having difficulty with the story. I stopped and wrote character bios for each person in my story and suddenly I felt like I knew them. I could actually imagine them interacting with each other and responding to events in the plot. It was almost like they were telling the story for me. That’s when writing really took off for me.
- Stay consistent. You really have to make time to write. I hear people say all the time there is never a “right” time (no pun intended). I’ve taken breaks with writing over the years, but find that I’m the most productive when I write even a little each day (my goal is at least 1,000 words). Figure out what works for you. Are you a night owl or early bird? You may want to consider skipping that Netflix show and using that time to write instead!
Now that you’ve gotten started, finishing is the key…but we’ll save that for another time!
What’s your writing process? Comment below!