Bursts of motivation are the muse of a creative writer. One minute, you’re on fire as you write several chapters in mere hours. Then suddenly, the engines start to sputter, ultimately coming to a screeching halt. That’s when we ask ourselves, “Now what?”
Sometimes, motivation isn’t enough. If we’re actually going to finish a story, we need motivation and discipline. Throw in lots of creativity and self-assurance too! We’ve got some new rules for you to follow if you want to get that novel of yours started. Let’s count ’em!
Take your novel seriously and start putting it on paper. One of the first things you can do to pin down your work is giving it a name. Names have power, so you can use them to capture the theme and/or moral of your story. It’ll remind you of your goal and what you’re trying to write.
Remember that this initial title doesn’t have to be the final one. Chances are it’s going to have a lot of iterations. And don’t worry if you can’t think of a name yet—you can go with a topic or just the chapters, settings, and characters you’ve been developing. What’s important is that you start your novel and have an anchor for it.
Many writers tend to obsess over editing to the point that it hinders the writing process. They edit as they go, immediately erasing bits and whole sentences at the slightest imperfection. This eventually leads to writer’s block as they run out of juice.
You can definitely be your own critic. Just do it reasonably and let your work sit there for hours to a day or two. It’s easier to polish your work with a clearer and well-rested head.
Make it so that you actually run out of time to write. Set deadlines and accomplish a number of pages or words by a certain date. You can also reserve hours only for writing. It’s up to you whether you’d prefer to do it weekly or daily.
This is mostly where discipline comes in. Treat your writing like a profession that requires your time (it already does, anyway). Work slowly, but surely. Before you know it, you’ll have a glittering, magical manuscript with you.
Pure imagination can only go so far. We need to know how things and people work before we can create convincing story elements for our novels. We can also read other works to help develop our own styles.
Research purposes aside, it’s also good to get a boost from reading books you like. For example, science journals do wonders for sci-fi writers. Just keep reading so you’ll remain familiar with what you are making. The good thing is that reading is already a hobby, so the learning bit is just an excellent bonus!
Even if you’re writing it just for yourself, there will be people just like you who will come across this book. Knowing the kind of readers you’ll have is important because it’ll also determine how you arrange your story.
Are you writing this for those who have lost a loved one? Is this for people struggling to come out of the closet? Whatever your message is, make sure it translates in the text. Use words and emotions that your audience knows. They’ll help you write with direction and purpose.
Knowledge of the many places and cultures all over the world helps in creating believable worlds and characters. You can write about a place so intimately that it evokes feelings of nostalgia or contempt. Your readers may enjoy a particular chapter simply because they’re familiar with who or what you’re describing.
Get out there and explore just as much as you would want your readers to explore the world of your book. Your adventures, the things you read online, and the books you read will give you much to write about.
Good characters make for good stories, so they have to be authentic and interesting. Get to know them first before writing them. Make a list of their favorite things, their reaction to burning tea, the way they style their hair, and even their star signs and personality types.
Most importantly, put yourself in their shoes whenever you’re writing a scene with them. Don’t make them all act like you would (who wants multiple carbon copies of one person?). They will have their own actions and reactions, so let them show it to the reader.
Drama! Tension! Secrets! Plot twists! These are the reasons we never seem to stop at just one more page. The way you place these plot points throughout your writing is just as important as their content. The most popular ways are cliffhangers and big questions.
Your general style of writing will also affect your productivity. Write in a way that is true to you but also helps the story go. If you prefer to let the audience know intimately what you and your characters are thinking, go for first person. If you prefer imagining places and letting the readers revel in their wonder, go third person. Make it work for you and the rest will follow.
That’s a wrap! It should be easy to remember. Just use this mnemonic: NEW RULES.
We hope these pointers help you get started on that writing project. When in doubt, just tell these new rules to yourself. Internalize, strategize, and get it done. If you have any questions for us, just let us know. We’d be happy to help!
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