I think most of us have had a moment in our lives where we said to ourselves, “I should write a book.” As a writer, I get this feeling any time I think of a cool story idea. But ideas alone don’t write a book, no matter how great they are. So how do you get to that step? How can you take your novel idea from a pipe dream to a reality?
The first step is to have a plan. Now, everyone writes differently. I spend my entire first draft working out who my characters are, and only in the editing does it really come together. Other people can imagine having conversations with their characters before they even write a page. So how you outline will be unique to you. However, I would recommend that you try outlining before you write the first draft.
Half of writing is editing, and a good chunk of editing is cutting out story elements which are well-done but unnecessary. If you kindakind are writing without an outline, most of your first draft might be unsalvageable. It won’t be a waste of time, but it will be frustrating. If you hate outlining, then try to think of it in terms of your character’s basic wants and desires. In every scene, someone should want something enough to act in order to get it. If you can figure out what all your characters want in general and in every scene they are in, then hopefully everything will feel important.
Next, start a writing routine. There’s this old idea that great writers always have these convoluted ways to get into the creative zone, like only writing on a typewriter or keeping rotten apples under your desk. If these work for you, then good luck and more power to you. Personally, though, I think most of this can just be chalked up to people needing good creative routines. I find it easiest to write in the morning, especially if I can start before everyone else is awake. This quiet time really helps me get in the zone. I also need to avoid Youtube or Pinterest before I write, otherwise I never actually get around to writing! Figure out what routine works for you, and stick to it!
Step three, just write every day. Big goals are great-- I’m personally aiming for two pages a day outside of work-- but it's more important to reach small, easily attainable goals first. Have a minimum limit that you can write at midnight after a long and tiring day when all you really want to do is sleep. I would recommend 200 words. That’s less than half the length of this blog! If you can consistently write every day, all those 200 words will add up!
The fourth and most important step, though, is just to enjoy yourself! Write whatever you want, especially on your first draft. Always wait until at least draft two to show it to anyone, let alone editors or beta readers. These first few drafts, in all their messy, stupid glory, are for you, so you can figure out what you are writing and how to write it.
Good luck in your literary ventures! Be sure to tell us about what you are writing, and what sort of tips you are looking forward to next!