When most people dream of becoming a writer, what they’re really aspiring to is becoming a novelist.
Is that true for you?
If so, what exactly is holding you back from taking that first step?
For a lot of aspiring authors, the thought of actually putting pen to paper and making a novel happen is far too daunting. It’s a huge project which involves really putting their true self out there and being vulnerable to criticism and harsh reviews.
Not to mention the fact that it takes a heck of a long time to plan, draft, rewrite, edit, and publish a novel!
But that shouldn’t dissuade you. Not at all.
Instead, it should inspire you to make a conscious effort to go into your novel project properly prepared with everything you need for success.
Start your novel with the end in mind
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of writing a novel and jump straight into that opening sentence.
Although it’s great to ride the wave of enthusiasm you feel, approaching your novel without a clear plan in place is a fast way to fail.
Jumping straight in leaves you vulnerable of being burnt out and abandoning the project altogether.
Before you put pen to page, take a little bit of time to answer these three questions.
- How long will my novel be? Know how many words your novel should contain so that you can plan your writing schedule.
- Will I outline? Outlining your book in some way or another is essential. Just choose a method that works for you.
- Am I aiming to self-publish? Are you looking to self-publish or do you want to go the conventional route? The tasks you need to carry out and the schedule for your work will vary depending on this objective.
Having clarity on the big-picture view of your novel from the get go is the best way to keep momentum up until the finish line.
Understand the fundamentals of novel writing
Now that you’ve got a plan in place for producing your novel, it’s time to make sure you have all your creative bases covered as a new novelist.
If you’re unsure of where to focus your time and energy, think about what’s most unfamiliar to you and begin there. For example, do you know how to write the beginning of a book? Do you know how to choose the right genre for the story you have in mind? Do you have a plan in place to become a better writer on a consistent basis?
Getting to grips with the basics of what it means to be a novelist is an essential starting point.
Enhance your novel
Once you know the basic building blocks of novel writing as seen above, think about the more advanced and impressive elements that will elevate your book.
As a new novelist, tread carefully with literary devices. They should be used sparingly at not at the expense of what really matters the most, namely your story.
Above all, just because you’re a novelist now, don’t ever stop reading. One of the most popular pieces of writing advice from Stephen King is that being a consistent reader is the most important part of becoming a great writer.
You should read widely within the genre you want to write, as well as outside of it. This will help you stay familiar with conventions and expectations of the readers you want to reach, as well as keeping your mind fresh with new ideas and perspectives.
Let tools and technology be your best friends
There’s no denying that writing a novel for the first time is daunting. You don’t have to do it alone.
Things are a lot easier than they used to be in some ways for new novelists. You have access to research that novelists from years gone by could only have dreamed of. Even free writing software is packed with functionality.
You can also use helping hands like templates for your book to take tasks off your plate and allow you to focus on writing.
Some useful tools for novelists you might not be aware of as a newcomer include:
- Self-editing software. As a newcomer, don’t make the mistake of trying to take on all the editing for your novel on your own. It won’t go well. Invest in the best level of professional editing you are capable of getting. Before that, use self-editing tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly to make initial improvements and learn about your own weak points.
- Specialist planning tools. Some writing software has some project management functionality built in. But perhaps you want to keep things separate. If you want a dedicated environment for your writing, use a simple tool like Trello for planning and tracking.
- Online writing groups. While the process of writing itself is ideally carried out as a solitary activity, you should seek support around your project as a whole. Join writers groups online so you can offer mutual support to other first-time novelists.
- Print-on-demand. If you end up self-publishing your novel, don’t limit yourself to thinking it will only be available as an ebook. It’s easier than ever before to create high-quality print-on-demand copies of your book for readers to enjoy.
- Podcasts and videos for novelists. One of the best things about being new to novel writing is there is so much for you to learn and understand. Drink deep from the ocean of knowledge and immerse yourself in the world of free podcast and video content.
Do you know what the most important thing of all is as a first-time novel writer?
To complete your book!
Of all the people that dream of writing a novel, very few even start.
Of those who start, very few finish.
If you can make it to the point where you have a completed novel, congratulations. You’ve already made it further than most.
Just remember that being a novelist is a marathon not a sprint. Hopefully you’ll be doing this for decades.
So see your first novel as the stepping stone it is towards a long-term literary career.