So many people feel like they have a book inside them. Writing a book one day is a common dream, and yet for most “one day” never comes. You keep convincing yourself you don’t have the time or the patience. Or perhaps you have put in the time, searching for writing tips and advice online, but still ultimately finding yourself at a loss.
Don’t beat yourself up. One of the toughest parts of writing a book is working up the courage to begin the process. And while there are plenty of helpful places online to help you out, they are often geared more toward those with at least some real writing experience. Here are some tips to help you get started—even if you’ve never tried writing seriously before.
Give Your Idea Time to Percolate
It is likely that if you have the desire to write a book, you at least have some glimmer of an idea of what you want your book to be about. (Don’t worry if that’s not the case—I have a blog post on brainstorming over at Fictionate.me that will help you come up with one.) You may know that you want to write a book loosely based on a former relationship of yours, or one that takes place in space, or a school-based fantasy similar to Harry Potter.
It’s important that you don’t rush into writing with only a thin premise. Some writers do well without outlining, but even they tend to start out with a strong starting point and a fairly decent idea of how they want the story to flow. Without some plan of where you’re going, you’re likely to get lost along the way.
Here are a few things that you should try to figure out before you start:
- What does your protagonist want?
- What will your protagonist have to do to achieve their goal?
- What are the obstacles standing in your protagonist’s way?
Write Without Writing
You may think writing consists of time spent scribbling in a notebook or typing on a laptop. And that does count for a lot of it. But many writers do their best work when they’re not physically writing at all, especially in the conceptualizing phase of a project.
There are plenty of ways to write without writing. You can go out for a walk, perhaps with your phone in hand so you can listen to some good mood music. Physical activity is a great way to get your mental gears moving and could help you to see your story in a new light. You may even spot a lovely forest or a creepy-looking house that inspires you, in which case you can snap a picture for later.
This non-writing writing can also take place while you’re showering, washing dishes, doing laundry, or doing just about any other task that doesn’t require your whole brain. Getting away from the laptop or notebook can really help open your mind up to new possibilities and make that blank page a bit less overwhelming.
Create a Schedule and Stick to It
After you take some time to brainstorm, you might finally be able to clear that starting hump and get down a few pages. But then you lose your inspiration or hit a wall, or your schedule just gets too packed. Plenty of us have those ten pages we keep meaning to get back to but never do.
A way to get around this is to create a writing schedule. One absolutely essential part of making such a schedule is that you do not overcommit. There are writers who will tell you that you have to write every day, but a lot of us don’t have that luxury. We have jobs and kids and other responsibilities that get in the way. So don’t give yourself more to do than you can handle. You’ll most likely end up overwhelmed and ultimately not doing any writing at all.
Instead, carve out time when you can. If all you can find is an hour each Saturday when you would normally be watching Netflix, then that’s your writing time. And once you decide on your manageable schedule, try to stick to it. Depending on your writing speed, even just an hour of regular writing time a week will enable you to complete an 80,000-word book in roughly a year and a half.
I know I was just talking about how important it is to stick to a schedule, but a big part of being a writer is knowing when to give yourself a break. If you’re starting to feel burnt out, don’t force yourself to write that day, or week, or month. Your writing probably won’t turn out all that great anyway if you can’t muster the energy to really make it come to life.
So give yourself some time to recharge. Do the things you enjoy—play video games, paint, watch movies, cook a nice meal, etc. Maybe you can take a weekend away, or a whole week even, and spend some time with the people you love.
It can be hard not to feel like you’ll lose momentum if you stop. But if you always remember to think of your break as temporary, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to make your way back to your novel. It’ll be right there waiting for you. In fact, the time away might give you the distance to see your book in a whole new way.
Writing a book can seem incredibly overwhelming, especially to someone who’s never attempted anything like it before. But these tips will hopefully help you to finally unleash that book inside of you so you can share it with the world.
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jill has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com, and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jill has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.