How to Write a Novel: Getting Started

So you want to write a novel.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that almost everyone has wished to or even intended at some point to write a book. Maybe it was a children’s book, a memoir, cookbook, romance, or young adult fantasy like Harry Potter. When I published my first novel in July of 2018, I couldn’t tell you how many of my friends and family told me things like, “You know, I’ve always wanted to do something like that,” or “I wrote a few chapters of a book once back in high school, but nothing ever came of it.” Each one of those people got a wistful look in their eye, like they were confiding a dream.

There’s a deep desire inside all of us to create. I believe it’s a fundamental piece of human nature. It’s why we come home from our day jobs and paint, or play guitar, or prepare a gourmet meal. It’s why we are film connoisseurs, amateur artists, or weekend chefs. Every single one of us has a hobby where we can exercise our creative energies. And, every one of us has experiences or dreams, things that make us who we are, that could be expressed in the form of a book.┬áNow, I’m not a chef (though I am a big fan of Blue Apron, and it’s the closest I will ever get). I’m not a painter, or musician, but I am a writer. A fiction writer, with three completed novels, (two published and one soon to be released) and two more currently in progress. But I started out where you are: with a dream, and no absolutely clue how to make it happen.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a writer. I loved any opportunity there was in school to write freely. When I was eight, a friend and I decided to white a fantasy book together that was a total rip-off of The Fellowship of the Ring, complete with maps, full color illustrations, and some live-action role play. It was a blast, some of my best memories. In high school, I took a creative writing class and managed to get a few chapters penned, but as the saying goes… nothing ever came of it. I dabbled in writing off and on college, and then life happened. You know what I’m talking about. Marriage, a baby, a career to do something with that university degree you earned; moving house, moving house again… it happens to all of us, and you know what it means. That creative hobby that means so much to you is inevitably put on the back burner.

How many of you told yourselves that you’d get back to it when things “settled down” or once the kids are out of school, or after you get that promotion or raise you’re waiting for? I would wager that many of you have this attitude toward writing that goddamned book. Maybe you think that you will have more time somewhere down the road, and sure, that’s probably true. Heck, we all will, after retirement. But I am here to tell you that you don’t have to wait. You can make that novel happen, and all you need is a dream.

Well… okay, you need a lot more than that. You need commitment, because writing a novel is insanely hard work. You need an idea, the “seed” of a story, and the right tools to tell that story in a compelling way. You will study stories like yours that have been told well, to see how it can be done, and then you will practice. And practice. And practice. And practice. Seriously. As my karate master says, “Anything can be done with practice.” That means sitting down every single day – no excuses – to write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good, just do it. Commit to it. It will get better. Do it and eventually, you will have that completed novel.

It’s not easy. If it was, everyone who said they wanted to write a book one day would have done it. But if you really, really, really, want to make it happen, you can. I believe in you, and I want to help, which is what this blog is for. My website (shameless plug here) is where I coach writers like you to fulfill your dreams. I’m going to keep posting blog articles like this one to keep you motivated and to discuss helpful tips on the writing craft, but if you take nothing else away from this, I hope you begin to believe that you can write. I want you to try. Sit down, open that new Blank Document in Word, and just get writing. Let’s make that book happen.

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