“I Want to Write a Novel?”


So you’ve admitted it. You’ve said the words out loud, even if just to yourself.

“I want to write a novel.”

But you’ve never done it before. You’re a businessman or businesswoman. You write business articles or ad copy or code all day.

What do you know about what it takes to write a 90,000-word story?

Probably both more and less than you know, which is pretty much the state of living in general. As such, you’re neither any more nor less lost in deciding how to put your “I want to write a novel” thought into proper action.

Congratulations.

On that happy note, let’s discuss an actionable plan – a one-size-fits-most kind of deal – to aid you in turning your creative decision into a promisingly publishable work.

Get a good grasp of your story premise.

You don’t need to know how it ends, just as long as you know what’s going to lift it off the ground. Is it the idea of a person feeling unfulfilled in life? The concept of other worlds existing? A romantic romp through France in 1809?

While that last one might be more difficult than the other two, I have seen it done well before, so have at it if you’d like!

Figure out what kind of writer you are.

Understanding your own proclivities is a major part of your authorial journey, which is why I bring up the question of plotter vs. pantser so often. In many ways, there are only two ingredients you need to write a story. And this is one of them.

Ask yourself whether you’re the type of writer who likes to get organized first. Do you feel more comfortable with the idea of mapping out your journey ahead of time?

In that case, you’re a plotter. This means you should let your structured self have as much rein as it wants in order for your creative genius to fly straight.

However, if that sounds about as much fun as zapping yourself with a Taser, you’re much more likely to be a pantser: a writer who flies by the seat of his or her pants.

A pantser’s job is to forget the very definition of the word “organization” and just start writing. With one exception…

Determine whether you need to do research. First.

Research is a biggie, and not just if you’re writing something like historical fiction.

If your main character is in a profession you don’t have personal experience with or your setting is somewhere – or sometime – you’ve never been, then I don’t care whether you’re a plotter or pantser. You’ll be doing yourself, your manuscript and your future readers an enormous disservice by not studying up on your subject matter first.

And just for the record, this advice comes from a pantser. Organized or not, it can actually be a very fun process.

Commit to working on your novel.

Technically, you could write a story without doing your due diligence first. It’s just a matter of whether it’s going to be any good or not.

But this last step is utterly non-negotiable.

You have to make it happen.

Life is filled with excuses to dump commitment by the wayside. And some of them don’t amount to much more than, “The dog ate my homework.”

As such, make sure to keep your dog and your homework in completely separate rooms. Spend time with your canine companion so that he isn’t tempted to eat your manuscript, but make sure to devote space to actually writing too.

Determine your schedule, detailing what days and times best work for you. You hardly have to write 24/7. But you do have to write at least somewhat consistently if you don’t want your “I want to write a novel” to fall by the wayside.

Don’t be like most people in this matter. Go get to it.

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