How To Write That First Novel

[NOTE: I’ve been fortunate over the past five years to be intimately involved with a writer’s group that has allowed me to become acquainted with numerous authors, publishers, screen writers, and literary agents. They have talked openly about the publishing industry in general and their specific genres, and have offered considerable advice. Over time, I’ve grown to realize how valuable that guidance was. So over the next few weeks, I hope to share some of that wisdom with you.]

“What do I have to do to be a writer?”

Write.

Believe it or not, it’s as simple as that. Writers write. It’s what we do. But you’d be surprised how many potential authors forget that.

I’ve met several potential authors who have bragged about all the work they’ve done on their project. One had a detailed outline of their proposed novel. Another had 3x5 cards filled with biographical notes for each character. A third had a notebook in which he kept hours worth of research. When I asked them how far they had gotten in their book, they admitted they had not written anything yet. These people completely miss the point.  Research, plot, and character are necessary, but not anywhere near as important as actually writing the book.

So get out there and start writing.

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re a published author and have plenty of time to write. I don’t.”

No one has time to write. You have to make time.

The sad truth about publishing today is that, unless you are a well-established name like Stephen King, K.J. Rawlings, or Dan Brown, most writers maintain a day job (or have a very understanding significant other with a well-paying job and a lot of patience).  I get up at 5 AM, rush around to feed the rabbits and get dressed, and am off to work by 6 AM.  If I’m lucky, I get home around 5 PM. Then I have to feed, clean, and spend time with the rabbits; do chores and errands; and try to have some meager semblance of a social life.  I’m lucky if I get five hours of sleep a night.

I fit writing into that hectic schedule because I love to write.  I need to write.  It’s my passion.  To do that, though, I have to make sacrifices.  When I’m in full-fledged writing mode, my Xbox sits idle and my stack of books to read grows taller and taller.  And I don’t want to admit to the number of times I’ve spent several hours cranking out a chapter, only to be greeted afterwards by sets of mopey brown eyes and furry dejected faces giving me that why-didn’t-you-play-with-me look.

Anyone who truly and passionately wants to write can find time during the day to do so.  Get up an hour early or stay up an hour late (as long as you devote that entire time solely to writing).  If you commute by public transportation, use that time to write.  Devote some of your “down time” to writing.  Sure, you might have to forego watching American Idol or curtail your time surfing cute pet sights on the Internet, but are these really more important than getting your book written?

“Oh, come on.  How much writing do you really expect me to get done in an hour a day?”

Let me put it this way.  In that hour, anyone can write a single page.  If you type in double space, the way manuscripts should be drafted, that’s approximately 300 words a day.  If you do that every day for a year, when you’re done you will have 365 pages totaling over 100,000 words.  That, my friends is a novel.

So what are you waiting for?  Close down the Internet, call up your word processor, and start writing.

NEXT BLOG: How to write well.

Comments

Tami said…
I ask that you quit talking directly to me in your blog posts! :) Just kidding, well kinda!

I find that I make excuses daily why I don't have time to write my novel. But honestly my only excuse is I don't make time! Thanks for writing this and giving me a virtual kick in the butt!
Scott M. Baker said…
It's not easy. I've had to give up or cut back on a lot of things I enjoy, like video games and reading (I'm lucky if I read a book a month now). But it's so worth it when you see your name in print.

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