Let's start by assuming you have your great original idea, amazing locations and cast of compelling characters - how do you now turn all that into a wonderful manuscript? There answer is different for everyone, as some like to wing it, others obsessively plan every minute detail.
There is no shortage of well-intended advice, from Stephen King's 'shut yourself away from the world' to my own favourite,'write just one a page a day and that's a book in a year.'
I replaced the word 'writing' with 'completing' in the title of this post, as we all have so many distractions, it takes self-discipline to write a full length novel. I've written at least one novel each year for the past nine years, (three of which have become international best-sellers) so I'm happy to share what works for me.
1. Put together a simple outline in Excel for 25 chapters of 4000 words, with columns for progress and notes. This should enable to you arrive at a first draft of 100,000 words for editing. The actual chapter lengths can be whatever you suits your writing style (mine range up to 4500 but never less than 3000, although I read a book recently with some chapters of a single page.)
2. Set yourself an achievable word count target to reach every day. As I write historical fiction, there is a lot of fact-checking and research, so my minimum target is 500 words a day. (Sometimes I've passed 500 before breakfast and others I might do more than 3,000 - but by sticking to my minimum I know I can have my first draft in 200 days.)
3. Keep a simple tally of how many words you actually write each day. I use another page of the same Excel file, as I find it motivating to see I'm ahead of target.
3. Keep going forward and avoid doing too much revision as you write. There's plenty of time for that later. (I picked this up from doing 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo.)
4. Make sure you have a reliable back-up system and use it. Ever since I lost a few chapters when a laptop crashed, I've been a bit 'belt and braces' with a solid state drive for my daily backup and weekly versions to the cloud. (Never overwrite old backups, as you never know when you might want to restore something.)
5. This approach suits the way I write, but its a good idea to develop your own writing routine based on what works best for you - and make sure those around you understand and respect it.
Do you have some great writing tips you would like to share?
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