The Big Lessons I’ve Learned So Far From Writing My First Novel

With NaNoWriMo approaching, you aspiring authors out there will be getting everything ready for one month of flat-out writing. 50,000 words in 30 days, leaving you with a manuscript and a lot of editing to do before you launch your book.

Now, I can’t say I’ll reach 50,000 words throughout November, but I’ll certainly be pushing much harder than before to finish my current work in progress. I’m sure quite a few of you feel the same way, so I wanted to write something that I feel could encourage you during this important month.

Working on my first novel has been a real challenge in terms of maintaining that creative energy. It has meant I’ve had to read more than ever, dedicate my spare time to writing every single word that I can and learn that I HAVE to write MY own way.

Here are the key lessons that work for me and that I hope will work for you ahead of NaNoWriMo:

1, Being a good reader is just as important as being a good writer

As you may know, reading and writing go hand in hand. You’ll find that most, if not all, writers read an insane amount of books in their spare time to keep the creative juices flowing.

Reading books actively is the best way to keep yourself inspired. Whenever you pick up a book and get through from the first page to the last, think about why it gripped you. Was it the plot? The characters? The writing style? It can be anything you liked about it

If you don’t like the book your reading, however, don’t feel obliged to continue. Put it down if you don’t connect with it; I ended up putting down H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds. I liked the concept but hated the execution.

2, Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer

Calling myself a writer felt like a leap of faith. There I was, this guy who says he’s a writer yet hasn’t had anything published in his life except a few articles on How can anyone take me seriously?

Thinking that way made me feel awkward in social situations, particularly whenever I’m asked about what my plans for the future are and I want to tell them about my novel.

Ask yourself this. If you can’t picture yourself as a writer, making enough money off your royalties to work at it full-time, then how can you expect anyone else to?

Be confident. Embrace the fact that you’re a writer and take control of your ambitions.

3, Don’t neglect your social life

The process of writing a novel can be a very lonely one that can often disorientate me from writing altogether. I went through a slump recently when I had no energy to read or write at all because I locked myself away from people, believing that they would distract me from my work.

That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made since I started writing, because it lead to a writer’s biggest obstacle: writer’s block. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So you’ve gotta get over it quickly if you want to keep to your target for NaNoWriMo.

The best way, in my experience, is maintaining my social life.

Instead of locking myself in my room most nights, I spent a little more time with my family and saw my friends whenever I could. That gave me the release I needed from writing so I could come back to my laptop more inspired than ever.

It’s not only books that can inspire you as a writer. By living a little, you’ll discover more elements you can add to your story.

4, Sometimes the plan is that there is no plan

Imagine this: you’ve got everything, from your title to your characters, planned out. You follow that plan meticulously and get twenty or so thousand words into your book, but you feel like something’s missing. You need something different that you didn’t think about previously.

That’s when your characters start telling you what they need in order to stay compelling. This can range from new motivations to new subplots that would aid them to be who they can be. Some things can stay, some things need more work, some things need to be cut. These are all things that you, as the writer, need to manage.

Stick to your guns, but don’t be afraid to go along new paths in your story.

5, Commitment, commitment, commitment

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Never take your eye off the ball or stray away from the goals you’ve set yourself. I’ve learned over the last few months of writing my book that you can only write a book one way: YOURS. So trust in YOUR own vision. Do the best that YOU can do, and the rest of the work will come later.

Good luck to all of you! Let me know how you get on!

As a thank you for getting through to the end of this article, I’m revealing my synopsis for my upcoming novel, Powerful Minds. Hope you like the sound of it:

Within Muswell Green lives two special children; the telepathic Claire Price and the telekinetic Andrew Milton. As their lives interact and their friendship grows, they find their own purposes for using their powers, all while enduring the hardships of growing up which threaten to tear them apart. 


One thought on “The Big Lessons I’ve Learned So Far From Writing My First Novel

  1. Pingback: Filters and Blackouts | The Many-Storied Building

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