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Six reasons you should start writing your novel now

CALL TO ACTION-1When you are a writer, you meet a lot of people who want to be writing. The guy in my local cafe has a fantasy novel that he’s been researching for about seven years. A friend of mine has been working on a novel for 20 years. The beautiful girl at the library loves writing and wants to do it again.

Whenever we meet, we talk about writing. And it goes like this.

Them: “I really must get back into writing.”

Me: “You should.”

That’s it.

There are always reasons why you’re not writing your book. Millions of them, and they’re very good. But here are six reasons why you should start right now.

1. There will never be a perfect time to write your novel. There is only now. Now is as good a time as any, right?

2. If you wait for the perfect place in which to write your novel, you will never, ever start. You can build a room in which to write, but it will not make you write. Writers write. Under the stairs, in a cupboard, in the corner of the living room. The view out the window will not put words on a page. So, if you look at it that way, you are in the perfect place to begin right now.

3. Writing is not convenient. As much as we might wish it to be otherwise, writing is not an inclusive task. It requires a certain amount of selfish time and space, which is not always easy for loved ones and others who live with writers to take on board. Having said that, a person can do a lot of the hard yards of writing – the thinking – whilst physically present in day to day life. I do a lot of my best plotting and planning whilst weeding, showering, vacuuming, washing up, and doing the other mindless tasks required to keep a family home running. I do my actual writing at night, in the deep silence that only comes when others are asleep. It’s not always easy, but I take what I can get. You can do that, too.

4. Your first draft doesn’t need to be perfect – just finished. It’s not easy to write in snatches, and it can result in a certain lack of cohesion in your first draft, but that’s okay. Because once you have a first draft, you have something to work with. If you write 200 words a day, you’ll have 73000 by the end of a year. You’d be happy with that, right?

5. If you don’t start, you simply… don’t. It’s not always easy to begin something. Where do you start? What will it be about? I used to struggle with this because I used to believe that I needed to know where something ended before I even began. Now I know that the best ideas happen when you’re doing the work – and that the strings of thought and theme can be drawn together in surprising ways by the subconscious. Write something. Surprise yourself.

6. If you Google how long it takes to create a habit, you get an answer of between 21-28 days. Having attempted NaNoWriMo several times, however, I decided to dig a little deeper. Writing 1000 or more words every day last November didn’t make me writing 1000 words or more in December. Instead, it made me tired and so I spent much of December lying down, thinking about what I’d written in November.

So just how long will it take you to create a daily writing habit? Well, research suggests anywhere between 18 and 254 days, depending on the complexity of the habit you’re trying to create. Let’s just look at that again – up to 254 days. With that kind of commitment in mind, you’d better start today!

So, there you have it. Six reasons to write that opening sentence (which you will no doubt change at least three times before you’ve finished) and see what happens.

Are you struggling to find the time to write your novel? My online course ‘Make Time To Write’ will help to get you started. All details here.

28 Comments

    • Ah, editing is a whole different ballgame. A wise friend once told me to start with the small things, because then you feel like you’ve made inroads, and then tackle the bigger issues. Less overwhelming that way. Good luck!

  • I think your first option is the one that resonates the most. If you keep waiting for inspiration and the “perfect” time you’ll never begin. We find that motivation is the key for our writers on NowNovel.com

  • I am writing a novel at the moment. The hardest part for me with any writing I do is always getting the first words down. Blank pages are horrifying. Sometimes I write vignettes that I can plop into longer stories later on, just so I don’t have to start from nothing. I usually delete them later on, but it gets me started.

    This is a fabulous post.

  • I’ve started. The hard part is to keep on keeping on. But I’m getting there and I know that with continued reminders – like this one – I’ll get it done. Thanks for always being a “real” inspiration.

  • I’ve started. I’d say I’m in the middle. I was part of a weekly writing group, and just the pressure of that deadline was good enough, but then we broke up for the summer and never got going again. Funny thing is, I have readers who are pissed at me for not getting my ass in gear, so you’d think that’d be motivation enough (it’s so very nice to be appreciated). But no, not so much. I just mainly lie awake at night and feel guilty….

    I do love it, though. It’s like being in another world.

  • I have started by using Evernote and setting myself a very portable work space for writing. I can do it in the bus during my commute or at home on the PC or the coffee shop – anywhere I need to get something down. Obviously my best (most productive) time is at the computer at home but being able to add a picture or drop a file, link or just throw some word down any where really has made a difference to my ability to write.
    Now I would very much like to be able to do that on more than my phone but a laptop or tablet cost money and for now that isn’t possible. So I use what I have when I can!
    Thanks for the blog Allison.

  • Thanks for the inspiration Allison!
    Like you I tend to plot and dream throughout the day when I’m busy doing other things, and write at night. The Index Card app (it’s just the index card part of Scrivener) on my iPad is my best friend for that reason- I can plot, plan, make notes and shuffle scenes around anywhere, anytime, and then write without interruption at night. So far it’s working! Thanks again : )

  • One of the other great reasons to write “that story” now, is that it’s where that story belongs. Now. There’s no guarantees that the ideas, moods or tones that draw you to a particular story will still captivate you at a later date, because in time every story loses that ‘new car smell’.

    While for some that may seem like a reason *not* to write it, it’s a simple matter of energy. It’s the immediate moment that contains the energy for that story, and if it stays untapped, it can’t grow beyond the idea and into a thing in its own right.

    Yes, there’ll always be other ideas but each has its energy, and one should write now so that it doesn’t have the chance to become stagnant.

    There’s also no sense in saving an idea for when you’re a more accomplished writer (as some people tend to think they’ll do), because that future point has its own ideas begging to be written.

  • 6 very true points! I write all-day for clients & like you use my “free” time doing household chores to plot and dream about my stories. My problem stems from feeling like I’ve used up all my words by the time my work writing is done. In the process of learning to balance. I need to tattoo #3 and #1 onto the backs of my eyelids. Thanks for the great post.

  • I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I didn’t think I had time but thought I could maybe blog instead. Then 18 months I started a blog. Then I did a bit of freelance writing and started an additional blog. Now my day job is as a content developer for a major website and I blog at night. It’s so true that you need to just write and see where it leads. Maybe in a few years it’ll be novels.

  • I am on the final stretch of finishing a first draft. Each time I sit down to write, I fight to start. Will it be crap? Will anyone like it? Will anyone care? The first word is the hardest – but it is the victory over a constant struggle of self doubt.

    • Getting that first draft finished is a major milestone Karen, so keep going. You can always fix it. Remember that. Once you have words there, you can fix them. Much better than a blank page… Good luck!

  • You’re so right about everything! but the real problem for me is knowing the entire story before I start, then sticking to writing that. Yeah, I did the Nanowrimo for 3 years, and I have 3 unfinished short novels because I went for the 50,000 words, but kept changing characters, story line, and getting into a big mess. I LOVE Nanowrimo, and would never have even done anything without them. I do want to get back to the last “book” and cut out all the weird stuff that popped into my head and sounded so great at the time, but had nothing to do with the story I was trying to tell.

    • I think NaNo is great for getting words on the page – but the hard work of writing is always in the rewriting. It’s a great idea to go back and look at them now – take out the extra stuff and put it aside – you might find there’s a whole different book in there!

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