Since I came out of the novel-writing closet on my blog last week, several people have asked how I got into writing and how I have managed to write while still raising a big family and keeping such a clean house. (Well, the family part is true…I added the clean house bit). One reader even told me that I had inspired her to start writing. Wow. Apparently, thanks to the new-fangled world of blogging, a person like me can post some words they’ve cooked up in their pajamas on a sleepless night, onto a colorful website and people actually to read it. Maybe even like it (so I’ve been told).
So, before I begin more chapter revisions today to send to my editor, I’d like to share my tried-and-true method of writing a novel. I may have to get up and watch a segment of the Dr. Phil show while I do this, right after I check my Google + feed. Rest assured, though, I will write this for you.Today.
Imagine a story idea and ponder it for years.
Make some people up.Then, bounce them around in your head for,say, years.Give yourself plenty of time to flesh out their lives.What’s the rush? My story idea came to me when my twins were infants. I had a lot of sleepless nights with them that resulted in my losing touch with reality in the dark. It’s amazing the places your imagination can go while you rock one sleepless baby in your arms, and another one in his infant seat, all the while staring at a clown mobile by night-light. My made-up people became my friends during those nights, and I’ve mulled them over for about 10 years now.
Write down story ideas as soon as they come to you.
Write those suckers down on receipts and outsides of envelopes in your car, then put them in your pocket. Go about your business for the rest of the day, and forget about those epiphanies until they crumble out of the dryer in mushed up white chunks of paper. Promise yourself you’ll get a notebook the next day. And when your next idea materializes, you’ll have a book to record it in before it fizzles. If you remember where you put it.
Read lots of books.
Read books by your favorite authors. As you enjoy their genius, pick apart everything you read and get ideas on style, structure, imagery, and voice. What will you borrow for your own writing? What can you write so much better in your own work? Jot down ideas as you go. Retrieve them later from the lint screen when you need inspiration while you write.
Find a writing coach or mentor.
Join a writing group or class, and try to meet someone more experienced in the writing business than you are. Pick their brain, ask them for advice and feedback. I went with a writing coach named Wayne Smith. You pay them to critique what you write, coach you on how to write your best, and most of all, to motivate you with deadlines to achieve your goal of becoming a published author. Wayne does all of these things so well, I sometimes have a hard time shaking him.
Type your first chapter. Read it. Re-write it, word by word. Do this for several weeks, very sporadically. Then buy a bottle of wine.
Ignore emails from your writing coach
Drink the wine.
Start a blog.
Tapping out chapters on the keyboard of your lap top alone in your dining room is fun and all, but there isn’t much in the way of feedback during this process. Start a blog to test the waters for your writing. Seek out someone, anyone, who might want to read what you can do. Blogs are a wonderful playground for writers to hone their craft, find an audience, and also for them to get bewitched into the time-sucking online abyss, known as: social media.
Get active on social media.
Join it all: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, whatever else there is in that moment. Promote yourself by interacting with others on the networks. Make sure you comment and share at least 10 others’ links or posts times on each one, but make sure you have enough time in your day to write posts for your blog. You know, the blog that is building your audience for your novel. Oh, and before you share the newest-most-unbelievable-puppy-baby-video with your followers, open the document for the latest newest chapter-in-progress of your novel.
Remember the novel, right?
Look it over, and maybe even read some sentences.
Say to yourself, “I actually wrote that? It’s pretty good.” But, it ends right before your protagonist teeters over a cliff in the wrecked car that was sabotaged by his ex-girlfriend, and you need to find out what happens. Here’s what you do next:
There may be other steps, but I can’t think right now. It’s too early for wine. I need a little snack. I wonder if there are any Cheez-its left…