I’d like to dedicate the following blog post to every writer who has ever struggled to put their work out there, and write their dream novel – first time out. To everyone who ever had an idea but didn’t know how to put it onto paper, or too scared to share its beauty. I hope these steps help you. I wrote this blog as I thought of all the times I’ve tried to write a book but failed, for one reason or another, and after talking to peer authors I realized that they too went through many of the same struggles. These steps come from my own experience with writing and through my own trials that came with the completion of PARAGON.
The most important thing to remember when writing your dream novel, especially when it comes to piece of literary art, is that writers write. It sounds simple, but if you’re anything like me you’ve likely sat at your computer, staring at the screen, overthinking your ideas and dialogue until nothing gets done. Just remember: mechanics work on engines, singers sing, hum and whistle, artists draw or paint, and writers WRITE. To write the dream novel you’ve always had in mind, you have to start by writing.
2. FIRST DRAFT = FIRST CRAP (And that’s okay!)
Take comfort in the fact that your first draft is likely going to be horrible. That’s why any and all books you’ve ever read are NOT first drafts. The first draft of your dream novel serves one eloquent purpose: get the idea out of your head, onto paper and into the real world. My favorite example is my own experience with writing. The first draft of my frist novel, PARAGON, is almost an entirely different story. The characters are the same, mostly, and the plot follows roughly the same path, but the villain is a different person; the path the hero took through his journey his similar, but predominantly separate. There are even sub-characters I scrapped from the first draft, and the final fight-scene is a completely divergent scenario.
But this is the beauty of the First Draft! It gives you the opportunity to get all your ideas out and into the real world where they can be polished. A diamond starts off as a piece of coal; your first draft is the coal! This is also why we have Editors! Every dream novel has a first draft. Yours does, too. Have you written it yet?
3. NEVER LOOK BACK
One of the things that crippled my writing the most, throughout my entire life, was looking back. I’m 25 years old and have been writing since I was 12, yet this is the first time I’ve ever managed to not only publish, but COMPLETE a story. Whenever I would write I would finish my daily goal and then I would make the mistake of looking back over what I did. As a result I did what every artist who is serious about their work has ever done: I hated it, was embarrassed by it, and wanted it to go away. Nine times out of ten I destroyed, deleted or threw it away only to start the story over, or move on to another idea. If you want to finish your work, don’t look back. Power through to the ending until you’ve managed to get to the best, and worst, part of any good story: “THE END.”
By doing this, not only will the job be done, but you’ll be able to count yourself among the few writers who can say “I finished it.” While there are several million authors around the country, there are a hundred million more that have never finished their work because they are over critical of their abilities, as most of us are. Don’t make this mistake, only look forward to holding the manuscript of your dream novel in your hands.
It sounds simple, almost cliché, even, but the simple fact is that authors are their own worst enemy. We’re all afraid of being “That Guy” who won’t shut up about their auto-biographical screen play; we’re horrified of sounding foolish when we talk about this thing, this idea that we want to mold into a work of art. The truth is, at the end of the day, if the work isn’t liked we have only ourselves to blame, and we know that. Instead of being hurt by rejection, we should become empowered by it – empowered to keep writing and to get better with every single letter.
What’s keeping you from finally writing that dream novel?