5 things you could do when you start writing a novel(la)
If there's anything I've learned in the year I've been writing to publish is that it's as easy as it is hard. There's nothing to sitting down with pen and paper, or with a laptop or behind your pc, but it's getting those words on paper in a way that works for you that's the hard part. On top of that, there's tonnes of advice out there, none of which will work perfectly, and some of which will. So, before getting on my high horse, let me tell you I'm talking from my experience here. I have no scientific statements backing me, or done too much research into it, and what works for me doesn't have to work for you. What I do know, however, is that in every bit of advice, there is something that will help you, if you only dare to try it.
Here are five tips you might want to try out when you've started writing a short story, or a novella, or even a novel. I'm not saying it's foolproof; I'm just giving you something to hold on to.
1. Write what you know. Write what you're able to. What I mean by this is nothing more than to not try write anything that's out of your style, or way beyond your vocabulary. When you start writing, write with the words that you have. Get the story on paper, and don't be worried. Getting the beautiful words in there is for edits and revisions, and you'll have your friendly the Thesaurus to help you out when you get stuck on the umpteenth repeated word.
2. Be consistent. I've been asked how I manage to write between my teaching job, two small children and home life, and it's quite simple. I'm consistent. I write every day, even if it's just for 10 minutes, even if it's just a hundred words. But Kara, are there days where you don't write? Sure there are, but even when I'm not writing, I do something towards it, whether that is taking notes on something, trying to make sense of something, or even figuring out plot. Heck, even reading is part of it! Reading?! Yes! One of the best ways to build vocabulary and syntax is by reading (spoken like the language teacher I am).
3. Keep a notebook. Honestly, I am the worst when it comes to keeping a notebook dedicated to my books. I literally have pieces of paper and notes everywhere I look. So learn from my mistakes; keep a notebook. Write down important aspects such as your MC's eye- and hair colour, the colour of their skin, quirks, flaws and all of that. Especially when you're a pantser (i.e. someone who writes without planning) like me, this will be super helpful, else you'll have to scroll back every time. Incidentally, it doesn't matter if you use a paper notebook, or something online. Whatever works for you.
4. Find your 'tribe'. My what? Kara, what are you on about? By tribe I mean a group of people who write as well. They do not have to write in the same genre (although it could be helpful). Finding like-minded people can help you stay motivated when things get rough, or help you out with a particular plot point you cannot figure out. You might not be able to find them straight away, but I know there are some amazing people in the #writingcommunity on Instagram.
5. Don't be afraid. Seriously, Kara? This is your advice? Yes, because you will be at some point or another. You'll be afraid it won't be good enough. You'll be afraid your writing sucks. You'll be afraid none of it is going to matter, and you might stop. Don't. We're all afraid of this, but if we all listened to that fear, no book would ever get written! If that is you, remember the following quote.
“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you.”
― Asha Dornfest
All that rests me to say is, welcome to the writing community! I cannot wait to hear from you and your work!