I wrote and published five novels in a year-and-a-half. My ten steps are listed below.
I often hear people lament how they’ve worked on a novel and cannot seem to finish it. Some have worked for many years, or so they say. Some want to write, but cannot decide how to start. I wonder, is it not enough time in their schedule? Or, maybe not enough motivation? Or, is it lack of direction, or knowledge about how to finish, or what the steps to publishing are? Maybe you’re trying to go it alone.
Motivation may lead the list. It can be difficult to continue writing if the story you want to tell doesn’t matter. We are evolutionary storytellers, all 7 or 8 billion of us. It’s one of the keys, if not THE key to our success in survival. Over the eons, we passed along information to one another in the form of stories. And, whatever your story, there are readers or listeners who want to hear it, need to hear it, and will identify with the characters you portray.
Time, too, gets in the way, becomes a rationalization, an excuse. “I’m a single mom, raising two boys,” does take time. It takes planning, and allocation of time and other resources, to get through a day. Writing requires an allocation of time, daily if at all possible.
Here’s a secret: most of my writing takes place in my head as I go about my day doing other things. Characters, plot points, a new twist will come to me and I jot down a note or two about it. I keep a file of “Adds” for each novel, those things I will add in when I sit down in front of my computer to write.
The same mental development happens when I sleep. It is a rare morning that I don’t wake up with something to write down about a story I’m working on.
Knowledge is required – about the craft of writing, and about getting it into the hands of your audience. The latter involves publishing and promotion, especially if you are self-publishing. If you are attempting the traditional publishing route, you will need to learn how agents work, and book proposals, and negotiation of rights, and much more. All such knowledge is on the Internet. There are hundreds of other authors, many of them successful, who publish their knowledge on their web sites, in books and videos, and even online classes available for reasonable fees – or free. Some of the MOST successful authors and screenwriters are on www.MasterClass.com.
Taking one of these classes leads to support. They have groups of students who stay together long after the class to support each other. They say writing is a lonely profession, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Fellow authors, newbies and pros, will provide feedback to your ideas and writing. They will encourage you, and hold you accountable for production and output. Even without taking a class, there are a thousand writing groups – surely one to match your genre and style. Try typing “writing group” into any search window and explore. Or, go straight to http://writersrelief.com/writing-groups-for-writers/. If you don’t find something suitable, start your own group: https://www.inkedvoices.com/writing/.
By the way, you can join local groups as well, those that periodically meet each other in person. The social benefits are as valuable as the professional advantages. Of course, living in a larger metropolitan area makes this easier.
And then, time comes up again. I wrote and published five novels in a year-and-a-half. It took time, a lot of time. I was in my office, away from home and other distractions, for many hours, every day, for months. In that regard, there is no secret. If, when, you have a story to tell, a narrative that has to come out, it will flow. Just tell it, as though to a friend in the chair across from you. Worry about form, grammar, editing, and publishing later.
If you can’t type, write it out longhand or tell it to a voice recorder and let someone else transcribe it. There are several freelance websites where you can hire people to help – fiver.com and guru.com for starters. Just go to www.guru.com and type in “novel edit” or “transcription.” Your virtual help can be anywhere. My book cover designer lives in India. Just don’t fancy yourself a freelancer and post your own talents for hire. Your novel will never get done.
By the way, it was a serial process. I wrote one novel at a time. The first one took a few months, in a nearly full-time effort. My savings ran low, so I took a factory job for a time to stay afloat. It was mind-numbing work, so I wrote mentally while I was there. Jotted notes during breaks.
If you cannot write full-time, you can still get yourself published within a year. Most people can write a thousand words in three hours. A hundred-thousand word novel takes about 300 hours. One hour per day for six days a week for 50 weeks is 300 hours.
I was writing about 36 hours a week, so the first one took around 9 weeks.
Steps? Let’s see…
Step 1. Look at your schedule and block out some time, preferably an hour every day, at the same time, even if you have to lose sleep over it. Set your alarm an hour earlier than usual and get up.
Step 2. Find a place where you can write, undistracted, by family, by your phone, especially by email and social media.
Step 3. Consider your topic. Fiction or non-fiction. Pick something you feel strongly about, that has to be said, a story that has to be told. In fiction, you can say anything you want. Make up characters you feel strongly about. Base them on someone you know, even yourself. Put them in conflict. Watch them collapse into despair. Help them recover, and conquer.
Step 4. As you write, when you slow down, hit a dry patch, use that time to do some research, into some aspect of your story, into the craft of writing, or how to et your work published. Go on Amazon and see what other people are writing. Figure out the title, write a draft blurb, decide how you will promote your work and yourself. Consider what your brad will be.
Step 5. Continue writing. Throw a new twist at your protagonist. Introduce a new villain, or love interest. Project out to the ending. Make sure your writing progresses toward your ending.
Step 6. End it. At some point you have to stop writing.
Step 7. Edit. Proof read. Ask others to proof read. Edit some more.
Step 8. Format your work for whatever media you will publish. There are many choices, but Amazon is the clear leader. Their publishing platforms make it easy, and they are the global leader. Amazon started as a bookstore.
Step 9. Publish. You may want to do some pre-launch promotion. There are lots of helpful marketing resources right on Amazon.
Step 10. Take a break. Celebrate. You are a published author.
I read your comments, so do feel free to leave one.
Thanks for reading.