I don’t know about you, but one of the most exciting parts of writing a book for me is the moment I get the idea. I will be sitting there minding my own business, maybe reading or working on another WIP, and out of the blue a shiny new idea forces its way into my brain. It is honestly one of the best parts of being a writer, but what comes next is potentially one of the worst… getting started.
This post will outline the best ways to get started on writing your novel, so that you don’t find yourself sitting there staring at a blank page.
Get your idea down
Whether you are a Plotter, Pantser or Plantser will determine how much time you spend on this section. That said, no matter how much you fly by the seat of your pants, having a vague set of bullet points will help you get started. If you are a Plotter or Plantser, you may go much further than that with detailed chapter outlines, character cards and world building. Whichever style suits you best, you are much more likely to get going if you have a place to start.
If you aren’t sure which you are, then take our quiz to find out your outlining style.
Set yourself a realistic goal with deadlines
I find it much easier to succeed when I have something tangible to work towards. Maybe it is a daily/ weekly word count goal, or maybe the aim is to finish a certain number of chapters each week/ month? Set yourself a goal, write it down, tell friends and family about it, even announce it on Instagram and chart your progress there. Whatever it takes to keep that goal front of mind so that you know what you are striving towards.
The key word here though is realistic. Just because you want to write an entire book in a month, doesn’t mean you will be able to. This leads nicely into my next point of creating a routine.
Create a writing routine
Once you have a goal in mind, you can set yourself a routine for achieving it.
First, take a good look at your current responsibilities. You may have a full-time job, a family to care for, volunteering responsibilities etc. and you will need to create a writing routine that fits in with all of those. Achieving your goal will be more about consistency than anything else, so don’t feel disheartened if you can only carve out 30 minutes a day, that will soon add up over the course of the weeks and months.
Set up your workspace
Next, set aside a space to write. I find that my likelihood of writing dramatically increases when I have a space dedicated to it. It’s not much, just a rickety old desk set up in my spare bedroom, but I love having a space that is only for writing.
If you are very lucky, then you might have a home office that you can dedicate to this. Most of us, though, will have to grab any space that we can. Maybe you can set up a desk in your bedroom or dining room? Or convert a storage room/spare bedroom into your writing space? Maybe you have a big enough garden for an insulated shed (with a heater) that is just for writing?
Wherever you choose, make sure that it is not where you do your other activities. Your writing space should be your special ‘zone’, that you enter each time you are ready to write your novel.
However, if this is impossible (as I know for most of us working from home at the moment, it isn’t possible to have two spaces) try to create a different mood within your space. Leave the room and have a break, clear off the clutter, light a scented candle that you only use for writing, listen to your WIP playlist, etc. All these things will make you feel you are in a different space to the one you were just working in, and will therefore put you in your writing mindset.
Join a community
Last, but certainly not least, I would encourage you to join a community. Contrary to popular opinion, writing a book is not done alone in the dark. Writing a book takes a village. Before I found my writing tribe on Instagram, I had no idea what I was doing. Should the first draft be this terrible? When should I edit? What is Scrivener and should I be using it?
Joining a community helped demystify a lot of the writing process. It introduced me to other writers; I became a beta reader for other authors, I met my critique partners, I discovered different writing tools. I also learned so much from everyone, from the craft of writing to how to self publish. A whole new world opened up to me, one that I would have never even known about if I had kept myself to myself, and never told anyone I was writing a book.
That is why we founded The Writer Community, to give other writers a space to connect, learn and grow. You can join our community on Instagram at @the_writer_community and our website with a special members section is coming very soon!
So now you have all the tools to get you started, you are ready to start writing your novel! Not sure what to write? Then read my post on writing a strong opening chapter to get you going.