Getting Started – Overview

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no-one knows what they are.
W Somerset Maugham

I really like this quote because there is so much truth in it! Ask 20 successful authors what the secret of their success is and you’re likely to get 20 (or maybe more) different answers. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t recurring themes – most of which boil down to some permutation of:

  1. Write – many authors express amazement at the number of aspiring writers who spend all of their time aspiring instead of actually writing. You need to take the plunge and get words down on paper.
  2. Read – there seems to be a consensus that only by reading can you develop your vocabulary as well as learning what works and what doesn’t work. JK Rowling is widely quoted on this one and Stephen King recommends reading for four hours a day.
  3. Be disciplined – yes writing is fun, yes it can be a passion but to make a living from it you have to approach it like a job. For example, set times when you will write and stick to them. Doing your research is also vital.
  4. Set targets – you could regard this as a subset of being disciplined but the majority of writers (note that I do say majority and not all) seem to agree that you should set yourself a target of words to write per day. If nothing else, it’s highly motivational to see real progress day by day.
  5. Revise – don’t expect to produce a perfectly formed manuscript first time. Get the ideas out onto paper and then be prepared to do the hard work of going through and reviewing, rewriting, proof reading and editing (or paying someone to do some of it for you) so that you get your work into the best possible shape to launch.

I’ll be addressing each of these themes in more detail with a series of posts that aim to help first-time writers through the process of getting their story out there.

There are also a host of other pieces of advice that tend to be more subjective but may work for you, so it pays to research. It’s a creative process so everybody is going to have their own ideas and preferred ways of working, but if you follow the ‘rules’ above you will be on your way to your first book and what could be better than that?

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- How to overcome your fears, take the plunge and write your first book!

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