Novels and Nonsense #1 – Taking That First Step
‘Sup, my hedogz ‘nd shedogz.
As someone who’s pretty much incapable of anything besides writing novels (though the quality of said novels is arguable), I felt it the obvious subject choice for my new Writing Gooder slot every Saturday. I plan to give advice, share personal experiences, set challenges, and do a whole other bunch of stuff regarding novel writing, so if novel writing is your thang, then I am your woman! Even if you’re just curious, please do hop onto this band wagon. There’s a Shetland pony in it for you, no lie.*
As this is my first Novels and Nonsense post, I figured the best place to start would be, well, the start. How do you actually start writing a novel in the first place?
Are you one of those people who keep meaning to start writing a novel, but are yet to actually do anything about it? You look the type. I bet you are. I can smell it on you. Do not fret any longer though for I am here to save the day! Well, here to give you my top three tips to take the first step and begin that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for the past century (give or take a few years).
1) There is no ‘right’ way to write a novel. You’d be surprised at the amount of people who become more stressed than a goldfish in a blender before they even begin writing a novel, simply because they worry they’re doing it wrong. They haven’t planned it well enough, the idea is flawed, the plan isn’t detailed enough, there isn’t even a plan in the first place e.t.c. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Just do what comes naturally to you, whether that be intense planning of every single step your characters take, or no planning at all. The worse thing you can do is stress over a novel you haven’t even started yet.
2) Don’t ever worry about the quality of what you write. “But Skins, I want to get published with a bestseller and become rich and famous! I want to be able to afford loads of dogs and name them after Power Rangers when I’m older, and then get buried next to Elvis, wot r u sayin?!”
Breathe, my huckleberry friend, breathe.
I’m not saying you should purposely write a terrible novel, I’m just saying that stressing over how good or bad your novel is will get you nowhere, especially if it’s your first novel. Whether you’re writing a novel, a short story, a poem, or a comic book series about a half human-half goldfish milkman, I stand by the theory that the most important thing is that you’re enjoying what you’re doing. Who cares if there are some plot holes, stiff characters, and grammar that would blind the human eye? That’s what editing and rewriting is for. If you’re able to grasp onto this mindset before you begin your novel, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to start writing it. Without the pressure of quality and perfection, it just becomes a fun way to pass time.
3) Make motivation your new best friend. For a lot of people, this will be the most difficult step. If you’re someone who could not find motivation if it slapped you in the face and ran away with your mother, the best advice I can give you here is to plan in advance. Decide when you’re going to start this novel, and stick to it. Make it a time when you know you won’t have anything else to do so that you have no excuses. Shut off your internet, turn the TV off, and lock yourself away with no distractions if you have to. Even if every word you write feels strained and forced at first, as you stick with it and continue writing, those words will become looser and more natural. Before you know it, you will have written the first chapter of your novel!
Before I wrap this up, I’m going to leave you with my first novel writing experience. I wrote my first novel at around 13-years-old, and it was absolutely atrocious. The paragraphs were huge, the dialogue was formatted all wrong, my spelling made grown men weep, the characters had as much substance as a toaster, I’d describe a chair in immense detail for at least two pages, it was plagued by info-dumping, and there were so many plot-holes that I’m honestly surprised none of my characters fell down any of them.
You know what though? I couldn’t’ give a flying fish.
I’d written an entire 60,000 word novel, it was the funnest thing I’d ever done, and it made me grow immensely as a writer. The feeling of completing a novel is the most brilliant thing ever, and you’ll never understand it until you do it yourself. That feeling is worth all the plot-holes and grammar destruction in the world, and the first step to feeling it is writing down that first word and starting that novel. What are you waiting for?
Please don’t hesitate to ask me any specific questions regarding starting a novel, no matter how silly you may think they are. And of course, keep writing,
(*I lied, there are no Shetland ponies involved in any of this)