Take those first steps towards writing your novel

Take those first steps towards writing your novel

So you think you want to write a novel?

I don’t think that any real writer would kid you and say that writing is an easy task. Everyone likes the look and feel of the experience; sort of like those people who love the smell of coffee but hate the taste.

But most don’t know how or where to get started and although if feels sufficient enough to simply say, just start writing, there are a few more things you may want to do to get the ball rolling.

Read like the wind

Reading really is a fundamental key to being a good writer—and that is in any genre. Reading introduces you to new words and ideas it also gives you a good sense of flow if you are writing fiction, a good sense of formatting if you are writing non-fiction. Additionally you will know what has already been written on your given subject. Now, I’ve heard people say that they want to do something different, something that has never been done before. Well, you won’t know what has been done if you aren’t reading. Reading in your genre let’s you in on what your target audience is looking for. Even if you’re bent on re-creating the wheel at least you will know what has been working and why it works.

But I don’t just encourage writers to read in the genre in which they will write—read other genres because there are structures to the story which are universal. It will expand your ideas and jolt your creativity. It will broaden your perspective of the world even beyond the profession of writing.

Read books on the craft of writing. This is quite important. When I began seriously writing fiction some years ago I went full-fledge ahead (as is the nature of my personality). After all, I was a writer and I knew how to construct sentences and paragraphs. But I learned by reading trade magazines that there is a structure and flow to fiction writing. And although it may seem like your favorite author is just writing off of the top of their head it is most likely that they are consciously aware of the structure. In some aspects it takes the struggle out of writing the book. When you write without knowing the fundamentals it is like trying to build a house just by looking at a house you admire. It just doesn’t work. And if you are looking to get published an editor will quickly recognize this major flaw.

The beginning

Join a Writer’s critique group

Writer critique groups work well for many people. It gives you the opportunity to exchange ideas and get feedback from others who are on the same path. I have never joined a critique group. I am not sure why except to say I have always received feedback in other ways—I wrote professionally before I began my journey as fulltime fiction writing. My writing was constantly being critiqued. But I do know others who have built lasting friendships with members of such groups. If you’re new to the writing I do encourage it. Sometimes members of the group can help if you are truly struggling with how to get started. I caution you to choose a group where there is a balance between published and unpublished writers. If you are all newbies it may not benefit you to get feedback from those without a clue. Likewise, if they are all experienced writers you may feel intimidated or they may not want to slow down and take the time to help you with the fundamentals (especially since you aren’t in the position to reciprocate information).

Network with other Writers

Networking in any profession has its benefits. But the thing with writers is that our job is completely freelance. There is no office to drive to where writers are sitting at their cubicles tapping out story after story (and most of us like it that way). Find other writers, authors and readers via social media:

Facebook – There are a bevy of groups here. Screen them carefully—many writers are there just to promote their work and offer no real benefit aside from this.

Google+ – This site is underused and underrated but I have found several groups that offer feedback and support for work

Tumblr – Blogs, blogs and more blogs. Again you will screen to find the ones that are most beneficial.

Be diligent

For most of us, writing a novel is not a must but a want. And it is so easy to get sidetrack with life when there is no real fundamental gap for our passion—at least to the visible eye. Others won’t consistently say, “Listen, you have to get busy writing your book.” Well, at least most of us won’t get that. But the thing is, if it is your passion, has always been your dream, you owe it to yourself to get it done. And as you do you will find it to be the most cathartic, difficult and wonderful thing you have ever done.

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