Home FEATURED Always wanted to pen that novel? 5 tips on how to get started today!

Always wanted to pen that novel? 5 tips on how to get started today!

by Cara V. Bland
  1. Read bad books. Yes, really. It’s incredible how much you can learn by realizing what does not work. It’s much better than trying to emulate your favourite authors, that way, you’ll never find your own style. How you define a ‘bad’ book completely depends on your own taste. Reading what you don’t like will reveal what you think is important in a story. Find out if you prefer a fast-paced plot, interesting characters, or a chilling antagonist. Don’t worry about writing what you know–but if you’re not writing what you like, it can get boring really fast.
  1. Ignore people who say everybody has a book in them. They don’t. Or, at least, not one that should be published. Ignore people who say, oh, I’ve always wanted to write. Wishful thinking does not count. Ignore people who think writing is easy and keep asking when your book is coming out. It takes time, it takes effort, and determination. Most people don’t have the luxury of possessing all three. If you do–what are you waiting for? Basically, ignore a lot of people. That gives you more time to write, too. 
  1. Don’t give up. I know, I know. It’s what everybody says. But seriously, don’t. The difference between those who make it and those who don’t (once you have a certain level of talent and proficiency) is determination (and, well, money and connections don’t hurt, let’s be real). Got a rejection? Send out something else. But don’t stop working on your craft. It’s strange that people think writers spring from the ground fully formed when, in reality, they have to work on their craft as much as any other creative. (Except maybe the geniuses, but let’s not talk about them.)
  1. These days, publishing is tougher than ever. But there are also more opportunities than ever. Well, maybe not so much in Luxembourg. (Although, there is a new organization for writers, check it out here.) If you can, get yourself an editor with experience who can evaluate your work. You can ask your partner, mum, or neighbour, and while they might be brutally honest (depending on how much they like you), they will probably not know why something does not quite work and what you need to do about it. A professional editor will know exactly what works in your story and what doesn’t and, most importantly, why. They will be able to point out what you need to work on and advise on next steps. Think you don’t need guidance? Top tip: everybody does, some people just don’t admit it.
  1. If you’re completely stuck and don’t know where to start, get up early. Be an early bird and all that. Actually, this has nothing to do with time, rather, with your state of mind. If you’re worrying about what to write, you need to stop thinking about it too much. The time right after you wake up, possibly even before you’ve had your coffee if that’s an option, is an excellent moment to start writing because your brain will still be slightly foggy and you will be too sleepy to worry (at least, in theory). If you can’t stand the thought of getting out of bed early, have a notebook handy and write for five minutes before getting up. This is my absolute favourite method if I’m stuck. Let me know if it works for you!

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