woman writing tips on writing a novel for the first time
characters,  writing a novel,  writing fiction

Tips on Writing a Novel for The First Time

Many people make the mistake of thinking that writing a novel is easy and doesn’t take any talent or skills. I’d say writing a novel takes more skills than talent, but that’s a post for another day. If you’re considering writing a book, here are some tips on writing a novel for the first time.

From my experience over the last 15 years, writing a novel is not only arduous–and sometimes mentally painful–work, it’s very time consuming. It is not for the faint-hearted. It takes commitment, drive, and a resolution to keep writing even when it’s the last thing you want to do.

But, and this is BIG, if it’s your dream, don’t let anyone stand in your way. Don’t give up. Keep writing and keep working until you’ve finished your novel. Many people talk about writing a novel, but very few of us actually finish one. Be a finisher!

Here are some tips that might help.

Be Passionate

Make sure you are passionate about your novel’s subject matter. You’re going to spend a lot of time with your story. You need to make sure you love the premise, you love the characters, and you love creating this story.

Cowboy books are popular right now, but if you aren’t passionate about cowboys and their lifestyle out on the ranch, you’ll have a difficult time maintaining the momentum you need to write a novel. If you don’t love romance, trying to write one will fall flat. Readers can tell if you don’t care about your subject. Write about what gives you all the tingles and your readers will feel it.

Closely tied to this is to not run after “the next big idea” but rather write about what moves you. The more passionate you are about your novel, the easier it will be to write it.

Gag Your Inner Editor

My inner editor is so annoying! Couple that with my OCD and I have a super hard time writing a crappy first draft because I feel like I need to correct all the errors right when I write it.

But it’s imperative to bind and gag your inner editor. Like, seriously. While you write the rough draft, tell you inner editor to take a hike. There will be plenty of time for revision, but don’t sabotage your efforts by demanding that your first draft be publication ready.

Give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft while you find the heart of your story.

Schedule Your Time

Schedule regular time to write. This. Is. So. Important. If you want to write a novel, you have to make time to write it.

As with the story of the tortoise and the hare, consistency wins the race. Even if you can only dedicate a few minutes a day to your novel, you will eventually finish it. If you write one page per day (250 words average), you will finish a manuscript within a year.

I’ve recently changed my schedule so I can dedicate more time to writing. I write first thing in the morning before everything and everyone needs my attention (like my 10 kids and 11 grandkids). I’ve found that this change has helped me to consistently work on my newest project every day.

Commit to your writing and it will commit to you.

Find Like-Minded Peeps

Join writing groups. With the internet, you can now be part of a group online that can keep you motivated and excited to write. Other writers “get it.” Finding other people who understand what it’s like to bang your head against the proverbial wall as you try to find that perfect sentence to describe your character’s inner struggle will help you progress in your writing.

I’m a member of several groups, including a chat group where we post our writing goals and when we complete them. It’s been very motivating for me.

Trusted writing partners can help you improve your manuscript by pointing out your strengths and weaknesses as well as pushing you to write your best. You can find critique partners as well as accountability partners in your writing groups.

Thick Skin, Like Super Thick

Develop a very thick skin. Not everyone will love what you write. Some people will actually dislike it. And they won’t have any trouble letting you know. Authors need to let criticism roll off their backs. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep writing.

Even after publication, you will find people who don’t like, or understand, your writing. That’s okay. Believe in your work, but be prepared for criticism, even if you think you don’t deserve it. When someone gives you feedback on your work, be sure to analyze it to see if it has merit before discarding it.

Recognize that someone who doesn’t appreciate your book is speaking of the book, not of you. It’s hard to separate yourself from your work, but you have to. Just because someone doesn’t like your book doesn’t mean they dislike you as a person. Don’t take it personally.

After you’ve published a book, never, ever respond to a review on Amazon or elsewhere. Never. Develop a thick skin and don’t let it bother you when people criticize your books. Or at least, let it bother you in private, not in public.

Be True to Your Story

Write the story that’s in your heart. Read that again. Write the story that’s in your heart. Whether it’s popular or not, write it. You may have a hard time marketing it, but be true to your story. It’s your story, not anyone else’s.

Whether you outline or not, write in the mornings or evenings, edit one time or multiple times, write that story that’s burning in your heart and is yearning to be free. Tips and techniques are fine, but the most important advice is to simply write that story that keeps you up at night.

***If you need some help creating your characters, download my free Character Design Packet here. It will help you create compelling, unforgettable characters that will make your story come alive.

Character Design packet free for readers

***Need help writing your first chapter? Check out my course: Writing a Fantastic First Chapter.

In this course, Writing a Fantastic First Chapter, you will learn what components you need to include in your first chapter to hook readers. With examples and assignments, you will put into practice what you learn and you can ask questions all along the way. A first chapter checklist, a character sheet, and a character interview are all included as downloads.

Don’t try to write a first chapter in the dark. This course will shine the light on what elements you need to help you navigate writing the all-important first chapter, so you can win over readers.

***Do you already have a manuscript? If you can’t afford an editor, you might be interested in Pro Writing Aid Writing Software. This writing software helps you improve your writing to be the best it can be. It’s like having your own private editor for a fraction of the price. You can try it for free for 2 weeks. You can click here to learn more about it.

Writing Improvement Software

***This post may contain affiliate links which may compensate me with no additional cost to you.

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