How to Write Your First Novel: Where to Start

Writing your first novel: where to start

Writing your first novel: where to startWriting your first novel is awesome and exciting! But if you haven’t written a book before, you might be wondering where to start. (And maybe even a little overwhelmed.) To help, I put together my top six tips to help you get your very first project off the ground.

1) Run with your idea

When you start writing your first novel, do whatever you need to do to get (or keep) your ideas flowing. Maybe do a brainstorm where you freewrite and collect your thoughts? Maybe you do an outline? Or maybe you just start writing. Whatever you need to do to better develop your thoughts, do it. Let your idea and creativity take the lead.

2) Dive into your draft

When the time comes to actually start writing your first novel, whether you brainstormed or not, just dive in. Don’t over think it. Don’t ask yourself if you’re “doing this right.” When it comes to first drafts, “right” doesn’t matter. Progress matters. If you think about what you’re doing and if it’s good, you’re likely to psych yourself out. Embrace your story and let the momentum carry you forward. It’s okay if you don’t always know what happens next. It’s okay if you skip around. Just let yourself write.

3) Don’t think of this as “writing a book”

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or feeling like you may have bitten off more than you can chew, change your perspective. The idea of “writing a book” can be an intimidating one. So stop thinking of this tasks as writing a book. Author Victoria Schwab once tweeted: “I’m not writing a book, I’m writing a chapter. I’m not writing a chapter, I’m writing a page. I’m not writing a page I’m writing a line.” Just write a line. Then write another one. And eventually, you’ll have a page. Then you’ll have a chapter, then you’ll have a book. For now, just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Just write a line.

4) Give yourself permission to be bad

It’s called “the writing process” for a reason. Your book does not have to be good right now. In fact, the moment I decided that my drafts didn’t have to be good, the more fun writing became for me. It took the pressure off and made it a lot easier to get the story down. So let yourself write badly. Embrace imperfection and don’t worry about if you’re writing is good.

5) Remeber you can always fix it later

If you’re having a hard time letting go of that need to be a good writer, remember that you can always fix it later. This is a draft. And your story will be a draft until it’s published. Nothing in writing is permanent until that point. Don’t let yourself get held up on an aspect of your book you can go back and fix. If there is something you can do to progress, do it. Skip a chapter and come back to it. Write terrible dialogue you know you’ll want to change later. Write the scene you have in your head even if you’re not too sure it’s going to fit in. Your goal when you start writing a book is to move forward. Try not to lose sight of that.

6) Don’t think about the finish line; be in the moment

Writing a book is a long process. It falls into the it’s-a-marathon-not-a-sprint category. If you focus on the finish line and how far off it is, it’ll be easy to get discouraged and maybe even give up. Instead, be in the moment with your story. Experience what you’re writing. Write the scenes that make you happy. Send your characters on an adventure and watch them grow. Find joy in what you’re creating. If you do this, the finish line will sneak up on you. For more tips on how to finish your first draft, check out this post.

I hope this helps you start writing your first novel!

Now it’s your turn: If you’ve already written your first book, do you have any advice to share? If you haven’t is there anything else you’d like to ask about? Tell me about it in the comments!

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