How do you tackle writing a novel?

Quite often people ask me how do you tackle writing a novel? Some would like to have a go at it, others are just curious about the process. So how do you begin? Here are a few tips.

Start writing

No excuses. Start writing. Make time to write. That could be early morning before you go to work or get the children up, lunchtimes, evenings or just a couple of hours at the weekends, but you must write. Rather obvious, I know. When I was working full time and running my marketing and training business I could only write on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. But I was fortunate to be doing that and religiously I would write, because I loved doing so. I didn't have a word count. I just did the best I could for that day. During the working week I used to keep a Dictaphone in the car and when stuck in traffic jams used to dictate ideas into it or work out plot lines. I also used to carry a notepad and often used my lunchtime to write notes and work on the outline or jot down character descriptions. So no time was ever wasted.

Write the first draft quickly

The first creative draft is often the most enjoyable and the most painful because you have so much in your head that you want to get down on to paper or computer screen and yet you might have gaps in the plot and in character development. I also like to research my marine mystery crime novels as I write so that will hold things up a bit. However, the key is to get an outline down as quickly as possible probably within four months. This will be a very rough draft with incorrect spellings, missing words and the character motivations and descriptions not fully formed. The key is in letting the creative juices flow, just brain dumping them on to the page.

Don't give up on it

You have good days and bad days but you don't give up. If I get stuck I carry on writing, or I might go for a walk, do some housework, knitting or sewing, something which lets my mind continue working in the background. Then I return to writing. And I keep writing until it's finished.

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