Ten Key Steps In Writing Your Novel #5

The #5 Key Step:

Here are six things you have to do to finish your novel within 100 days.

• Write at the same time every day.

• Never wait until you “feel like writing.”

• Turn off all distractions, like email or T.V..

• Set a goal to write a minimum number of words each day.

• Don’t try to write too much at one time.

• Try this trick of Ernest Hemingway’s. End each session in mid-sentence or mid-paragraph so that you’ll have an easier time starting up the next day.

Here’s another 10 steps exercise, this one from Brian Clark, of CopyBlogger.com

1. Write.
2. Write move.
3. Write even more.
4. Write even more than that.
5. Write when you don’t want to.
6. Write when you do.
7. Write when you have something to say.
8. Write when you don’t.
9. Write every day.
10. Keep writing.

Also, you have to realize that writing is difficult. Ballet dancers know that they are going to have bloody feet. Pianists know that they’ll have to practice until the pain in their fingers make them cry. Golf professional experience the same hardships. Ben Hogan’s hands would bleed from hours of hitting golf balls.

So, as a writer you must realize that it is emotionally costly to write well. Writing a novel is mentally exhausting, far harder than working for someone else from nine-to-five.

And what makes it particularly difficult is that you can’t talk about your book, not if you want to finish it. More than one ‘would-be’ writer makes the mistakes of ‘talking about their book and not writing’ their novel.

Keep your novel to yourself until it is on the printed page.


Leave a comment
  • All good advice. I would say the most important thing is to know thyself and what works best for you. For example, some of my best writing is done when there are distractions going on around…i.e., in a coffee shop or airport. I also have a wacky dream life that leads me to what to write next. Sometimes my characters visit me in my dreams and tell me what they want to say. My main challenge is my tendency to tell a story that takes more words than anyone wants to read. I find to write well I have to be almost possessed and when I don’t find the time I need to write, I become ill. A good couple hours a day of writing is the best tonic for me.

  • John: I am enjoying your lessons. Thanks for posting them.

    However, I am not convinced that one formula applies to all people or types of novels. For example, historical fiction requires research (on the web or reading books). Some days I research and write less, other days are filled more with writing and less research.

    I also don’t write the same time every day. On hot summer days, I garden in the cooler morning (when there are fewer mosquitos) and write in the afternoon. On rainy or cold days, I write in the morning. I agree no distractions- no emails, certainly no tv or videos. I personally do not listen to music but some my find it helpful.

    When I write, I find I think through plot, dialogue and character development constantly, when I am walking the dog, gardening or even taking a shower. The characters take over and become part of my daily life, like permanent house guests. This is my incubation period and makes the writing easier. The ideas have been formed and are just waiting to sally forth on to the page (or screen).

    Each day before I start writing anew, I read out loud what I have written the day before. It is amazing how wrong something can sound and yet look so perfect on paper. I call this “getting a running start,” – that is picking up from the previous day, making some revisions and then carrying on from there.

    Bottom line- your list is a great starting point for a writer but each person will find what he or she is comfortable with and works best for them. For me, dog walks are the great mind clearer and help me to resolve problems in the plot or with characters or dialogue. As a result, I have never had what some call “writers block” and what Ann Patchett views with disdain and commands the author to “just write.”
    Each author has to find their equivalent of a dog walk.

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