How I Wrote A Novel

It sounds kind of simple, but I just sat down and did it. That’s the main thing, the secret to writing and finishing a book. It’s to make time. I kept telling myself I didn’t have time but the truth is you have to make time, even if it’s just ten minutes a day. Right now I’m off school and have no job or kids, so this is going to change for me going forward. But it doesn’t matter how much time you give to yourself, as long as it’s a bit of time, even if it’s the ten minutes that it takes to bake cookies in the oven. It is easier said than done, but people have done it, working parents have done it. They have written entire 70,000-word books in twenty-minute intervals. I think that is the number one thing you need to do if you seriously want to write a book—make time. Although I understand that certain life circumstances can limit this, and am not making any judgments on anyone who can’t do the writing right now. I mean, especially right now, because life is really hard during these times, and while sometimes writing can help you cope with hardship, other times you are just trying to survive, and writing will not help you right now. It depends on how you as an individual feel.

I threw the idea of inspiration out the window. There’s this idea that writers and artists will be just going about their day, and all of a sudden, inspiration will hit, and everything is magical. That happens maybe about five percent of the time, at least for me. The truth is, writing is like a muscle, and you just have to keep doing it to get stronger at it. Ask questions, ask lots of questions, embrace the what-ifs because that is what leads to creativity.

If you take a couple of minutes a day, even if it’s just in the shower, away from the distraction of screens or other people, imagination can take its course. Let yourself be bored because that’s when your brain gets to breathe and actually start thinking of stuff. Even if the ideas seem weird or stupid or bad to you, write them down. Stephen King almost burned his novel, Carrie, because publishers thought it was too weird. And I’m sure they are kicking themselves now.

Writer’s block is also a myth because what writer’s block is is fear of failure. Your first, second, third drafts are probably going to be crap but let them be crap because that’s the only way you will ever get better, even if whatever you’ve written never sees the light of day. You can’t fix a blank page. You can’t learn from a blank page.

That’s another thing: no one has to ever see what you’ve written. You don’t have to concern yourself with what people think, because honestly, other people are irrelevant until you bring them into the equation. This is freeing. It lets you be bad, to write things that might be insane because there is no need to worry about what others think until you are ready.

Oh, and did I say I wrote a full novel? Well, that’s only half true. I wrote a first draft, which is honestly half the battle in itself because actually sitting down and writing is notoriously hard for writers to do. Now comes the other half of the battle, which is editing and editing and more editing and some more editing and probably a lot more editing. I’ll let you know how that goes.

But to anyone who has declared themselves a writer, and who is trying their damn hardest to make that promise to themselves: I believe in you. You are brave. We are in this together.

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