While it is June and we have reached the halfway point of the year, there is still plenty of time to start writing and finally mail your novel for publication.
Being a writer is a unique career and unfortunately it takes time to reach publication status, see your novel in bookstores, on bestseller charts, and raved about by readers and fellow writers. All good things do take time, though.
If your New Year’s Resolution was to write a novel, the goal falling through the cracks or just not forming into what you imagined, this blog post will help you reassess and reenvision your story.
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In any office job, there are divisions of employees who rank higher than others. In those ranks, each worker has someone they look up to or can easily turn to for professional inspiration and guidance. For writers, other authors are the individuals we rely on in hopes of inspiration, secrets of navigating complex plot lines, and carefully balancing all other components. It is important for writers to be readers.
Fiction storyteller? Read non-fiction. Thriller connoisseur? Crack open the nation’s latest horror. Romance all the way? Enjoy a love-story. But don’t fall too comfortable reading in the genre you write. Explore genres you don’t specialize in and better understand how those genres deal with character, conflict, and more. Take notes to strengthen and improve your writerly voice.
Each writer has their strategy for outlining and preparing their story. I outline with expectation that the story will not be 100% exact and I allow creative freedom within my outlines. Some writers stray from heaps of preparation while others plan more heftily. If you aren’t sure the type of writer you are, begin scribbling a few notes and continue with what feels natural.
First, write a general summary of your story, perhaps something that you may find on the back of your published piece. Based on the short synopsis, expand and add to the main plot line, followed by snippets of subplot. Know what will happen toward the beginning, middle, and end. If necessary, create bullet points of chapter outlines. Work your way through the planning stages and see what outlining strategies come with ease. Writing is just a big ol’ experiment!
Set goals for yourself and your story. Set goals that are attainable and won’t hinder your creative spirit. Create weekly and monthly goals to help keep the writing alive and urge you toward the final page. Feel proud of your writerly accomplishments.
When writers ask for advice, we often here that we should “Write everyday.” The thought behind writing each day is that you are exercising your talent and are actively working on the thing that is your full-time job or dedicated hobby. There is plenty of room for improvement when you write everyday. However, I think we should sometimes adopt the phrase of “Contribute something to your writing each day.” We all hit lulls, writing blocks, and days that are way too jam-packed for anything else. If we contribute to our writing in a small way when we can’t take on full writing sessions, those tiny contributions will add to your story and eventually take you where you need to go.
So, take another day to name that chapter, make a list of action words for that high school fight scene, think through the kinks of introducing another character, etc. But then, dive right back in!
As you progress through your novel, it’s important to remain upbeat and inspired. If you find yourself running low on inspiration, take a break and try reading, find author advice, listen to music, go for a walk, complete a creative activity, read empowering quotes, etc. Unfortunately, inspiration is not constant, but wavers. In the midst, seek new avenues to feel inspired and always be sure to just keep going.
You may also consider switching locations. Have you been writing in the same spot for too long? Venture to another room and see what happens. Trying writing outside, in the library or bookstore, cafe, etc.
As you begin to edit your novel, it can seem like an intimating feat. You are analyzing your story with a new eye and critiquing every aspect. Be a tough editor and don’t just assume the book is great the way it is. Perfection, like all good things, takes time! After you finish writing, take a break, refuel, and return with gusto. Pretend you are reading the story for the first time. Whether you print and edit with a red pen or do so digitally, take your time with the editing process. Be sure to enjoy it too! After all, you made it this far!
After you edit, revise, and read once more, you may be at the point where you’re considering publication. This is where things can get exciting and nail-biting all at once! Before you begin mailing your novel to the biggest of publishing companies, you have a few more things to do.
First, consider how your book will be categorized. In addition to the genre, what other books could your novel be placed beside in bookstores. Make a list of those titles.
Second, ponder what about your story is different than everything else in the publishing market. What qualities of your storytelling and the plot lines are easily set apart?
Third, research various agents who can help take your story to the printers. Search for agents that specialize in your genre. A great resource to use is Poets & Writers. Their site can help filter the right agent for you in an easy to navigate fashion!
Best of luck in your writing and publishing endeavors!