Tuesday, January 12, 2016

5 Tips for Getting Started on a New Novel

This is the time of year when we all decide we're going to start doing those things we keep talking about doing. That includes writing that book we always wanted to write.  In previous blogs I've covered how to start plotting your novel using the 5 W's. Look below for that.

But how do you get yourself going and doing the writing that counts.  The only thing I can say to that is that if you're a writer, you write.  Period!  As I just told a class I am teaching this month, I've heard the prolific Nora Roberts say (when asked how she could write so many books) "It's my job. You don't call in sick or say you'll work tomorrow in your day job. If you want to be a writer, you write."

And she is so right. When I was working in a newsroom I always knew I would be writing that day. It was how I was making my living. I was expected to turn out the stories I was assigned, or produce the newscast and that meant writing even when I didn't feel like it.

So, if you want to be a writer, you must write.  How can you make it easier?  I'm not certain you can, but here are some tips to get you moving.

1. Write first thing in the day.  When I was working full time I would spend at least an our or two every morning working on my latest story.  Even before I went to work I'd already completed at least a thousand words. If you can't write a thousand words, then write 500.  Or 100. You can always write more later.

2. Ignore the internet. Believe me facebook and twitter will still be there when you have time to look them over. The problem I run into is that I want to know what is happening in the world so I immediately want to get online in the morning and check everything out. The easy solution to that is to turn on the TV in the background or listen to the radio on the way to work. You'll get your news, but leave the internet chatter until your writing is done.

3.  Work on your story in your head while you exercise.  Okay, you might need to take your daily walk before you write. I often used to do that in the morning and I would use my walking time to think about what I wrote the day before and where my story was going today. Then I would get home and write for that hour before going to work to write my news stories. Think your story through while you run or walk. Is the plot going in the right direction? Is your character moving the plot forward? What do you want to do next? Consider the next plot point while you exercise.

4. If you can't get going, re-read your last few pages.  This is something I have suggested in the past and I've heard other writers say that is how they start every writing day. They simply sit down at the keyboard or with their notebooks and go through the last five or ten pages. Then they start to write.

5.  Try a new direction.  If you find you're stalled, rewrite a scene or try a new scene. Often we find ourselves blocked because the scene you're working on is not going anywhere. Take your plot in a new direction and see what happens.  Sometimes all you need is a tweak or two and you're heading in the right direction.

But as Nora said, the key is to WRITE.  If you are a writer or want to be a writer, then sit down and do it!


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