10 Tips to Write Your First Novel
Put Pen to Paper on Your Greatest Work

They say that everyone has a novel in them somewhere and a story to tell. If you feel that you fall into this category, but remain unpublished, then the fact that you’ve arrived at this feature indicates that it’s time to change it. Thanks to the internet, we no longer have to worry about agents and publishers – although they still have a part to play if your novel is good enough and you want to go down that route. If you’re more interested in getting the message out, then self-publishing might be the way to go.

Either way, before you can think about publishing and marketing, you need to get the book written. Even those with a story in mind fall at the first hurdle as it sounds so challenging. You feel like if you haven’t got 60,000 words or more in you, then any that you do write will be wasted as the story will never get finished. However, that doesn’t have to be the case, and it’s time to stop planning and start doing – in conjunction with these 10 tips.

1. Start by Setting a Deadline

The best way to get over the pre-writing jitters is to work towards a deadline and set a goal. If you have nothing specific to work towards, it becomes all too easy for the project to fall on the wayside. Once you’re published and the royalties roll in, the life of an author is pretty laid back, and you can go at your own pace within reason. However, when you’re solely writing for yourself, you need to hold yourself to account to prevent your project from taking forever and potentially never being completed.

2. Don’t Just Sit Down and Write

You always need to remember when writing novels that there is a story to tell and, aside from anything else, that story needs to be cohesive. Even if you’re the greatest writer ever to live, it is all but impossible to focus on this cohesion without a plan or structure in place. Further on in the process, this plan will enable you to overcome writer’s block as you’ll have something to refer to if not everything goes to plan.

3. Get to Know the Stars

Novels tend to rely more on characters than anything else, so you must get to know them before and during the writing process. By the time your book is ready to publish, you should know your main characters as well as you’d know a close friend. This can aid in the writing process too, as you’ll be able to decide what a character would or would not do based on their personality traits.

4. Don’t Necessarily Stick with Office Software

If you’ve never written a novel before, you probably don’t have the ideal creative process in mind either. Funnily enough, if you use standard office software for creative writing, you might not give yourself the best chance of success. Fortunately, you don’t need much more than a computer, a comfortable chair and the right piece of software to write to the best of your abilities.

5. Set a Schedule

We’ve touched on how hard it can be to get the writing done and without the plans, deadline and schedules, it is always easy enough to find something else to do. We advise setting a writing schedule where you do nothing but write, or at least think about what to write.

6. Avoid Distractions

If you can set a decent schedule for writing, we’d hope you can schedule some time where you won’t be disturbed either. This doesn’t just come down to being bothered by other people either. The chances are that you don’t need to do much research for your novel. If you do, then you’ve hopefully done most of it before you started to write. If that’s the case, then there’s no reason to connect to the internet. Leave your phone in another room, pull the cord or switch off the wi-fi and focus solely on your creative efforts.

7. Don’t Edit While You Write

Once you get the hang of novel writing, you’ll appreciate the different mindsets you need for specific tasks. If you’re lucky, you’ll regularly enter the mindset where the words flow from your brain to the page with ease, and you should always seek to capitalise on the opportunity. The worst thing you can do at this time is to worry about spelling and grammar, or sweeping story changes. Not every word you write will make it into the finished product, but now is not the time to take them out. You’ll have to re-read and edit the whole thing anyway or get someone to do it for you, so let the mistakes pass you by for the time being in favour of remaining in the zone.

8. Write Fast

Now that we’ve made a distinction between writing and editing, there is no harm in writing as fast as you can. You have deadlines and limited time set aside for the creative process, so get as many words on the page as you can and worry about cutting back on them later.

9. Take a Break

Some people struggle to write 1,000 words each day. Some write more than 20,000. While your self-imposed deadline should be respected, you should also factor in break times. Nobody can produce their best work for hours on end without a break, so remember to take a pause. Just don’t interrupt a stream of consciousness to do so!

10. Keep at It

If you’re reading this before you’ve started your novel, then we may have spoken a little too much about how difficult it can be to write a novel. It isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world; otherwise everyone would be a published author. However, plugging away and persevering is a core part of the writer’s mindset and motivation can be the difference between realising your dreams and being nothing more than the owner of a handful of unfinished manuscripts.