Ten Tips for Writing Your Novel


Now that I’ve got two books under my belt –though I’m by no means an expert– I’ve got some tips to share. Your mileage may vary.

1. Write every week day, as if it’s your job. If you want to ‘be a writer’ then writing is your damn job. Do it after your job that pays the bills. Or get up early and do it before the kids wake up. Turn off the damn television and write!

2. Have a goal for the day. Mine is 500 words. Maybe yours is one scene or five pages or something else. Sit down at your desk and don’t get up until you hit your goal, even if the words aren’t flowing, you’re having an off day or everything you write is shitty.

3. Don’t edit as you go. There will be time. What you need now is keep your mojo going. Write a shitty first draft, and fix it later. Momentum is everything.

4. You don’t have to know the exact path you’ll take, but you should know where you’re going. Decide how your book is going to end and figure out how to get there once you’re on the road.

5. Write notes for the next day/scene/chapter before you stop writing for the day. This helps alleviate the ‘now what?’ feeling when presented with a blank page/blinking cursor.

6. Consume entertainment. Creativity is not a magic, bottomless vessel. You’ve got to refill it with books, movies, comics, games, whatever. It’s the raw material your creativity feeds on. Caveat: don’t spend so much time ‘refilling’ that you don’t write.

7. Don’t talk it to death. Resist the urge to tell your friends or writing group all the details and plot developments in your nascent novel. Write that shit down instead. Talk later. Don’t waste your creativity in idle chatter.

8. Be prepared for inspiration to strike anywhere and anytime. You’re going to suddenly have the answer to the plot problem that’s been nagging at you when you stop actively thinking about it and are doing something like driving, showering, or playing Bejeweled. Stop what you’re doing and write that shit down. You will NOT remember it later.

9. No matter how skilled you are as a writer, you need an editor and you need a proofreader if you want your book to be the best it can be. Don’t get your mom or your best friend to do it. Hire professionals. After spending months or years writing your book, don’t send it out in the world half-dressed.

10. Don’t freak out when you get the postpartum blues. You think that when you get to the end of the novel you will leap into the air and shout hooray! You might. But it’s more likely that you will weep and sink into a funk for a few days or more. This is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with you. Step away from the novel and do something else. Go on vacation. Throw a party. Write a short story about something completely different than what you’ve been working on. Re-read Ulysses.

I hope this is helpful. Please add your tips in the comments!


  1. I’ll write when I’m damn good and ready! Stop hassling me!

    Sorry, just practicing for someday being a cantankerous old curmudgeon novelist who writes so brilliantly and insightfully that no one can believe such a hateful, shriveled bastard (me) comes up with such heartfelt and moving prose.

    Thanks for the tips!

  2. Something to supplement your awesome tips: If you don’t have a pen and paper handy or aren’t able to write it down, use the voice recorder on your phone or tablet if you have one. It’s faster to talk something out to yourself and go back and transcribe it, especially if you’re researching and outlining plot points first.

    Keep up the great work, Christa!

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