Tweak the way you think about writing a novel

Getting motivated to be our best writing selves in the new year!

Getting motivated to be our best writing selves in the new year!

I’m ready to get rolling on my writing projects again. But how to make this year different? I’ve got a few simple tips to get make your writing more productive and satisfying.

The first way to tweak your thinking is to update your identity. I read this great post by Lauren Sapala about writing and identity where she said, “Our sense of possibility is always connected to our identity. If you’re serious about finishing your novel, getting an agent, or publishing your work on your own, then you have to update your identity so that you believe yourself to be the kind of person who finishes novels, gets agents, or is a self-publishing entrepreneur.”  

I got out a sticky note and paraphrased that quote and stuck it on my desk.  If you are blaming yourself for not writing, definitely read her post for some spot on encouragement. This year, you are the kind of person who finishes their book.

Another new tweak on writing is to think of this book that you are writing as the first in a series or the first of many books that you will write.  In other words, this book isn’t that special. It is just number one of many you will write, if you can only get this one done you can get to all the other juicy tomes in your career. Think about yourself as a growing writer.  You don’t have to already be perfect.  Be ready to start now on building finished books, getting them out there, and writing another one. You will get better with each one.  I’m getting very excited about my fourth novel being that NY Times bestseller and allowing myself just to write the first one so I can get there.

Another tweak to try is to decide to write on the novel for one good month. Here are my good months for writing. I recommend January, February, March, April, October and November. These are the least demanding months for me. Bonus points for writing in the early morning dark before the day gets started.

This year, I learned a lot by doing National Novel Writers month (in November). I started off by using 750words.com.  I love the visual encouragement that comes from achieving your 750 words on this site.  When I aim for 750, I usually end up with 800. Some days, I don’t make the quota, because I need to regroup to feel where the story is going next but that’s okay because….

Writing for a month helped me learn about how my creative brain works.  For instance, I found that a scene or character might come and then a day or two later, I’d realize the scene/character was “off track.”  I’ve learned to allow myself to think of those scenes as Place Holders, where they contain a clue to what the story needs, but it might need to unfold in a different way.  

The final tweak is a combination of the rest.  Basically, when you are writing, treat yourself with respect, kindness and confidence.  Those backward sentences and stalls are all part of the process.  You and I are writers that will keep going, even if our sparkly new project takes some detours to get to the finish line.

by Janis Wildy

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About writeinseattle

Two Seattle writers examining the writer's life.
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2 Responses to Tweak the way you think about writing a novel

  1. I’m so honored that you found my post encouraging! Hurrah! And if you ever want to chat about writing, you can always feel free to email me at writecitysf@gmail.com. I love meeting new writer friends!

  2. Well here it is the middle of January and I’ve finally been able to look at my writing post-holidays. While I said I’d count January as a writing month above, I’d now say that January is like September. For me, I’ll begin warming up starting now and plan to be on a regular daily words schedule by February. I’ve always liked Groundhog’s Day as another new start to the year!

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