Stories have been swimming around in your head for years.
You’ve read countless books that you’ve said to yourself, I know I can do better! You been waiting for the perfect time, long uninterrupted hours, that isolated cabin in the woods to finally, FINALLY, sit down and draft that novel that’s haunted you.
It’s easier at times to put the dream off instead of taking steps to accomplish it. It’s less scary to tell the story in your head one more time than it is to put it on paper. It’s far safer to spend your free time Netflix-in’ and chillin’ than making a promise to yourself.
That novel will never get written if you don’t do something.
This is where you start:
- Find a designated space to write. If you are really taking writing seriously, then you need to respect yourself enough to create a place to work. You’ll need a desk, good lighting, storage, some sort of place to put your words (like a laptop) and maybe a good luck toy or a bulletin board or something to make it yours. Need ideas? This Pinterest board will inspire you to gather your supplies and make this first step a fun one.
- Look at your schedule. Can you squeeze in ten minutes a day to devote to your writing? You do have time to pursue your dreams. If you wait until you have long, long stretches, you will never get it. Your dreams are worth 10 minutes so, think about how you use your time and then devote as many 10 minute increments to this goal as possible. Keep a schedule and be jealous of how your time is used. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in tiny increments. Need suggestions for finding bits of time to write? Try this top 10 list. Or, these three tricks I used around my house. Or, these practical ways to find time. There’s a lot of overlap to some of these ideas — but I believe strongly in them. I’m a homeschooling mother of five. If I hadn’t scavenged to find time where it was, I wouldn’t have what I have today. If I can do you it, so can you!
- Think about what kind of book you want to write. Before you go in too deep with this project, you may find it helpful to really think about your vision. What kinds of books do you want to be known for? What genres do you naturally lead toward? What do you call a really good book? Time in self-reflection is rarely time wasted. I suggest you spend a little time with Top 10 Exercises to Deterimine Your Raison D’etre As A Writer. I hope this helps!
- Practice observation. A good writer is a writer that observes everything around him. Get in the habit of people watching or eavesdropping and collecting notes. If you are going to take this passion seriously, you need to collect mental images, words, descriptions and situations like a photographer collects photos or a botanist collects leaves. Need ideas on how to do that? This is how to describe an object and why it matters in your novel. Or, you can check out the 10 Minute Novelists Pinterest board on Observing the World Around You for more inspiration!
- Join a writers community. There is no substitute for joining a bunch of people online or in real life who share your passion. With good friends around you, you can get feedback, you can learn the ins and outs, you can understand what people talk about when they day WIP, or MC or YA. You will also be around people who really understand what it’s like to hang out in a dream world, to second guess yourself constantly, to question whether or not adverbs are evil or your main character is likeable. Need ideas on where to find a great community? Try this list of Top 10 Writers Conference Substitutes for the Poor and Xenophobic or join our Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the top 101 Sites for Writers for 2016.
- Spend as many 10 minute increments as possible getting down your ideas. Your first draft is supposed to be messy! If you’re going to be great at this, you have to understand that there is no such thing as a great first draft. Here’s some tips on how to use that 10 minutes well, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. And if you’re still stuck, here’s some ways to become unstuck, both figuratively and literally.
- Study common structure and sculpt your story around it. This is so, so, so, important. And while I am the first person to argue that chasing tangents in your drafting process can yield big results, I still believe that if you are going to be a great storyteller, not just a bland one, you better understand structure. I’ve got some great resources for you! This is a top 10 list on ways you can learn more about it. And then I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to this idea too!
- Write! Write every day if you can. Writing is an art! Art must be practiced! It is the foolish writer wannabe that believes they can work on a story for a month, upload it to Kindle Direct and make a ton of money. To belief this and worse, to act on this idea is disrespectful to all writer/artists out there who have put in decades of their life toward their art. If you want to be great, you must expect to work. The best way to grow in discipline and in confidence is to write as regularly as possible. Need more convincing, read this!
- Read all you can about writing. There are thousands of books out there about how to become a better writer. This one is my favorite. Check out your local library’s writing shelf and look for anything on writing. Pick up Robert McKee’s Story or Stephen King’s On Writing. Do a Google search. Ask Siri. Check out writing books on Amazon. You will never lack for great advice. Read as much as you can and apply as much as you can to your journey.
- Have low expectations. Let’s be realistic: as much as you want to be a great novelist, you can’t be one tomorrow. Instead of viewing yourself as a special snowflake because you want to be a novelist, define what success looks like for you today and next week. Don’t worry about publishing before you’ve drafted the book. Don’t harass agents unless you’ve edited and revised that masterpiece many, many times. And don’t expect to get rich.