Essentials for Writing a Novel

Jennifer's Czech 1940s Typewriter

“Everything you ever wanted – personally and professionally – is 2 or 3 steps beyond your comfort zone.” -Andy Andrews

Everyone has a story to tell. I believe that. And based on that belief, I’m want to encourage you to tell your story.

Every November, the #NaNoWriMo phenomenon goes on — National Novel Writing Month — when writers complete an entire novel in one month. So you think one month is really not enough time to complete a first-draft of a novel? Especially a month with a week involving family and feasts and festivities? You might be right. But even if you don’t finish a novel in the month of November, the fact is there is no better time to start.

Vintage Czech Typewriter

Here’s the plan:

A novel is a big undertaking. 80,000 words in most novels. NaNo-ers shoot for less, a first draft. This year, I’m working on a rewrite and I’m doing what I can in essentially one hour per day. One hour is better than none, so I’m excited. The best part about NaNo is the energy derived from knowing so many others are writing forward, too.

Why write?

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic in ways which don’t have words to say it well enough. I am a better and more complete person by writing. Story is a powerful connector in the world, and there is no better way to engage in story than by writing and finishing the story that is in your heart.

When can I find time to write?

Swap the hour of watching television or surfing the web to instead write. Or the hour before everyone else wakes in the morning. Or the lunch hour at work (what I’m currently doing right now and loving it) or the hour after dinner. Just one hour is all you need. Every day.

What do I write?

Well, I would start by thinking what it is you like to read, and even reflect on shows you like to watch. Thriller? Romance? Literary?

How do I know the proper format, margins, etc?

Since many books are devoted to this question, I’ll start by pointing to some I think are very helpful. The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, Novel Idea by Angela Hunt, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, On Writing by Stephen King, and my personal favorites: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Stein on Writing by Sol Stein along with his How to Grow a Novel.

Writing is hard work.

The most grueling thing in writing each day is —writing each day. No matter how comfy the chair, no matter how sleek and powerful the computer, no matter how simply the clock says it’s time to write, it’s always easier to do other things.

BUT, if you love the story, you’ll get it onto the page.

Some benefits found in the discipline of writing each day:

1. The story stays fresh and continues to flow day after day by writing even a little—500 words–each day.

2. Writing at a similar time each day can be beneficial. The body knows what to expect. The mind comes ready to write, and the flow is easier.

3. The story becomes a place to look forward to going each day, if only for an hour.

4. The routine lends itself to the others in your life respecting your time to write. Distractions are always plentiful, but with a routine hour set aside each day, writing becomes a priority.

Are you writing in NaNoWriMo? Leave your NaNo name in the comments below so we can connect (I’m jenniferlynking) — and good luck!

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

5 thoughts on “Essentials for Writing a Novel

    1. Writing is impossible not to do once you know it’s your thing, don’t you think? It finds me. I can’t not write. And so we write on! Thank you, Cathy! Hope the writing continues for you, too. 🙂

  1. I’m about a week late responding to this… but you ask what we are doing… Not writing a novel no but seriously writing something in my journal on my website daily… thought I’d try this notion of daily writing in Nov. Years ago I wrote daily working on my poetry and then the visual side of things took up first place. Hope you drop by to share my site with me.. I read yours more than I comment but I always enjoy your thoughts. Cheers to thinking,writing and what ever else we love doing!

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