10 Things I Wish I had Known Before Writing My First Novel

Disclaimer- I am by no means an expert on this subject. I am not published or famous or anything close. I am just an average Joe writer who has some things I would have liked to hear before/during the process of writing a novel. Because it is a process. A very long, emotional, difficult process, and sometimes it’s nice to hear that somebody else feels your pain!

  1. There’s no right way to write. You can research ways that work for other authors if you’re stuck, but in the end whatever works for you is what will work for your book. If you need chaos then go to a park in the middle of the day while a three year old is celebrating her birthday down the hill, if you need to have utter silence then buy some noise canceling headphones, if you need to be outside in the middle of a field like the Sound of Music then get out there and embrace your inner Maria. Just make it work for you. Don’t let anyone influence the way you become inspired, especially yourself. You don’t need to write a certain way just because you read an article about J.K. Rowling and you MUST copy her creative process because she’s amazing (which she is). Don’t create an environment that makes you crazy or makes writing unpleasant. You’re not J.K. (as much as we all wish for it) you are your own fantastic individual self, and that is beautiful. Be aware of you and the space your heart finds the most inspiration in.
  2. You will find your groove faster if writing is a daily routine. If you write at the same time, same place, every single day, then your ideas will from over from one day to the next.
  3. Once your ideas start flowing and you get into a streak you wont be able to think about anything else. You’ll keep yourself up at night thinking of ideas and daydream through work, waiting for the chance to get home and write. It’s uncomfortable, and thrilling, and beautiful. I have a friend that calls this restless anticipation.
  4. Some days, even with the best routine, you will sit down and nothing will come out of you. You will stare at the screen and free write and do some yoga and jump around and take a shower to get the juices flowing but nothing will help. It happens. But don’t give up in less than an hour. Some of my favorite pieces of writing have come from sitting in front of a notebook or computer screen for two hours before one great thing finally hit me and I started rolling.
  5. You will have to learn to cope with the angst of your characters. Writing particularly emotional pieces will leave you particularly emotional. You will also have to deal with what needs to happen to your characters. Good stories have some pain, but you wont want your characters to feel it.
  6. You’ll be so happy when you’re done. And then you’ll read it. And any happiness you felt will be replaced quickly by the terror that everything you have written is all wrong, and you will have fight every reflex in your body not to chuck the whole thing and start over.
  7. Once you get passed this and have fixed all the most glaring issues you will feel a little better. But there will still be things that need fixed, you just wont know how. Seriously, there may be full sections that you read through and brainstorm how to make it right for days and nothing ever comes to you. It’s OK to let them stew. Maybe something will come to you if you give it some time, but either way tinkering with something that you have no plan for is a bad idea.
  8. Your heart will call out for every human on the planet to read it, and at the same time want to lock it up so no one ever finds the evidence. There is also a part of you that will fear criticism. Not for your sake, but for your book. It’s my baby. Don’t criticize my baby.
  9. When you decide that you will share it with some of the people you trust they will never give you the response you want/expect from them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the fact that part of you will expect them to say that all your words are wrong from start to finish.
  10. No matter how your novel turns out in the end you should be proud. You have just created something that would never have existed were you not there to breathe life into it. You have just strung together 80,000 or so words in a totally unique order. Literally the thing you just finished has never and will never be created by anyone else’s brain. Ever. Appreciate your abilities, appreciate your resolve, and realize that you are now a member of a secret club. You are the Jess Mariano of Gilmore Girls. You wrote a book. Maybe you aren’t quitting your day job, but you sat down and wrote a novel. There are no words to describe how truly amazing that is.
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