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How to write a novel: five ways to get in the habit of writing

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I recently wrote on how to write a novel: plan in advance or not?  (Links in bold italics are to other posts on this site.)  I quoted Stephen King, and Stephen Donaldson, whose main tip on how to write a novel was “start today”.

Maybe you would like to write a novel, or a story.  But you haven’t started yet.  You often say, or think “I’d like to write a story”.  But you never quite find the time.

People.  Start today.

Starting to write a novel can be difficult

Of course we all feel obstacles to writing.  We are busy.  We worry that what we write may not be good enough.  We don’t have the right computer, or the right software.  We are waiting until we have finished another project, until a child is older, until we change job, until the stars are aligned.  Starting to write is hard.

Here are five ways to get in the habit of writing.

  1.  One of the best ways to cross the threshold into creative writing is to write a bit every day.  Some people refer to this as morning pages.  Morning pages are designed to get you familiar with the idea of sitting down at your computer, or at your desk with a pen and notebook, and writing something.  You don’t have to write literature, or anything polished.  Just write: what you feel, what you have been doing, what you saw someone do on the bus, a conversation you overheard (overheard conversations are great material for creative writing).
  2. I am also a fan of targets.  I try to write two hours every day.  It’s a tough target, as I also have a full-time job which involves a lot of evening and weekend work.  But having a target helps me focus on how much I have been writing: I get satisfaction when I meet my target, and feel motivated to do more when I don’t.  I even draw a graph every month with my average minutes per day of writing (nerdy, I know, but it helps me).
  3. Linked to this is routine.  Some people hate routine; others thrive on it.  For example, I try to publish a blog every week, no matter what else is going on (I’m writing this in a departure lounge at Vienna airport).  If Saturday is approaching, I feel a powerful urge to write a post (browse this blog to see the results!)
  4. Don’t keep editing as you go along.  Click on the link to see my separate post on this.
  5. Finally, are you so worried about planning your story that you never quite start writing?  Try the Stephen King method.

I’d welcome your thoughts.  In case you need more inspiration, I’ve inserted a couple of links to other people’s ideas on this subject below.  Have a browse.

And while we’re at it: don’t forget my reading from the “Hotel Stories” at Cafe Korb on 17 June Should be a good evening.

Just Write the Damned Book Already

 

How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps

I hope you’ve found this useful.  If so, please follow me on Facebook.  Or you can join my mailing list – I’ll be delighted to give you a free “Hotel Story” to say thanks.  Check out the range of writing on this site via my 5 pleasure paths.

P.S. If you are interested in writing technique, have a look under the writing: about writing category on this site, or try this post on How to write gripping fiction: scenes, sequels and cliff-hangers.

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