10 Tips for Writing Your First Novel

If you’ve ever wanted to write your own novel, now’s the time to take the plunge! Even if you don’t think you’re a great writer, you can complete your first novel if you approach the process strategically and with the right tools in hand. Here are 10 tips for writing your first novel, so get started today!

1) Be okay with being bad at it

You’re not going to write a best-selling novel right off the bat. It takes time to get good at writing and be able to tell a captivating story. No one starts off automatically writing a best-selling novel, to begin with! But, every great writer has to start somewhere! Start out by being okay with writing a few bad novels before getting it right. Then keep practicing and learning how to do it better each time you write another one!

2) Make sure you have enough time

Time management skills are a skill that does not come easily to all. It’s something you need to learn and refine throughout your life. And while we all can use help, it doesn't have to be complicated—here are a few tips that anyone can follow.

3) Set a goal

When you set a word limit goal per day or an average amount of time to write, it ensures that you’re putting in a solid effort. For example, if your daily word limit is 3,000 words, then that’s all you have to do. No matter what else comes up—no matter how tired or unmotivated you are—you still need to find time and write 3,000 words every day.

4) Have fun with it!

You write the first draft and think it’s complete, you’re ready to go. No, you need to do more work. This is just step one in getting your novel written. You have not reached The End yet. Give yourself time to play with ideas and words; don’t burn out trying to get every sentence perfect on your first pass. Make it better, make it great! Yes, your first book will be rough around all of its edges – but who cares?

5) Don’t compare yourself to others

Comparing yourself to other writers is a fool’s game; everyone has different writing styles and forms. You might love Agatha Christie, but does that mean you can write like her? Don’t let your ego get in your way; instead, focus on improving your own style by reading and writing as much as possible. The more you practice and hone your craft, the better you’ll become.

6) Writing is rewriting

Writing a novel is a process, not an event. You’ll rewrite multiple times before you find your final draft, so don’t worry if it seems like perfection is out of reach. Use your first drafts to get ideas out of your head and onto paper; then, you can refine them as needed.

7) Just keep writing...and then rewriting again!

If you want to write a book, you have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and keep writing. This means that there will be times when you don’t feel like writing or are unsure of what you’re doing. That’s when it is most important just to keep going; finish your chapter or scene and move on. Write until you reach your destination: a completed novel!

8) Read a lot, write a lot. Practice makes perfect.

Writing a novel is no easy task—no matter how it looks from a distance. But if you have an idea that you feel passionate about, it’s worth making time to write. Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can—that’s really all there is to it. And if your finished product isn’t ready for prime time, that’s okay too!

9) Editing is important

Good writing needs good editing. Once you’ve completed your first draft, take a break and allow yourself some time to digest what you’ve written. Then, ask someone else to read it (if possible) and offer their honest opinion on where it could be improved. This is where most authors learn about murdering their darlings – cutting unnecessary passages or sentences that might have been important to you but are holding up pacing or flow in other parts of your book.

10) Know the difference between writing and publishing

Writing a novel is just one part of a long process. Once you’ve actually written your novel, you need to send it out to publishers and literary agents. Then, once you’ve found a publisher, you need to work with them on edits and revisions. Even after that is done, your book needs time to make its way through production before it can even hit bookshelves.

Bonus: Don't be afraid to scrap ideas for one work and use it for another!

During my ongoing stint as a writer with other obligations like school work, a job, and just life in general; at times I found myself with only an extra 15 minutes in between tasks. Yet that time adds up; before I knew it, I had written about a half-dozen pages periodically until I had completed an entire piece of work. Persistence is key and you will eventually hold a viable piece of creative work you will be extremely proud that you will want to show off to all.

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