Everyone wants to know what the big secret is to writing a book. There is one; trust me. And I’m about to tell you what it is.
Sit down, and write.
Really. It’s that easy. Unfortunately there isn’t one right way to make sure your novel gets completed. Different tricks work for different writers, and you need to find what works for you. As EB White once said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under when to work will die without putting a word on paper.” Jack Kerouac used to write by candlelight and blow it out when he was done. Susan Sontag wrote with a felt tip pen on yellow legal paper, because she preferred that over a computer. Ernest Hemingway wrote while he was standing up. Some writers work at night or very early in the morning, and other need music playing or the sounds of nature. But whatever works for you, figure it out and implement it quickly.
There are also several outside methods to help you finish your first draft if you can’t seem to get there. Writer’s Digest offers classes to help you finish your novel in three months, or you could set a goal during National Writer’s Month.
Then, write your first draft as quickly as possible. Write every day, and it will become a habit.
That’s what separates the new writers from the veterans. Be disciplined: Write 50 words. That’s a paragraph. Write 400 words. That’s a page. Write 300 pages.
That’s a manuscript. The veteran writers know that in order to finish, you have to come out of the gate strong and fast, whereas the newbies labor over every phrase, self-edit every step, and start over again and again.
However, the editing comes later after the first draft is finished. It’s impossible to edit while you are still writing. Don’t worry about spelling, and use punctuation when you remember. So sit down at your computer (or pen and paper), go over your outline, and just start writing.
Be sure to keep your books purpose statement (what you are trying to accomplish with your novel) in plain sight. Read it often.
Focus on a certain amount of words, pages or a particular section as your work on each day. When you get writer’s block or fleeting ideas, put the idea in brackets and define it later. Your main goal is to get what you set out to write done for the day.
Remember to not show this first draft to family members, friends, spouses—it isn’t ready. When it is ready you will be proud to hand it over for their reading pleasure.
Then when this first draft is done, work on the editing phase for the second draft. Cut out unnecessary areas or words, re-organize the structure, add vivid details for imagery. Edit and re-write, and that’s how you get better. Then spread your writing to friends and family to receive feedback. But above all; don’t worry about rejection or publication. That’s a writer.