So, what’s next?
I’ve made up my mind to get on with my first novel. I’ve considered key scenes to incorporate and I’ve got a general plot – of sorts. And I’ve attended a couple of courses on the finer points of writing fiction.
What steps should I now take to get it written?
The most obvious answer is to just write. Or to put it another, equally obvious, way: stop procrastinating, Maureen.
Many published authors advise newbies like me not to worry about how bad the writing may be. Get the first draft down, and there will be time for editing and improving once I know what I’m working with.
So, to make sure I actually get on with the job, I’ve decided to start scheduling time for writing fiction.
That may sound strange, given that I work as a writer. Shouldn’t it be easy to just switch from journalism to a few pages of fiction each day?
Clearly, that hasn’t been the case in the past, because I always have a list of newspaper articles to be chased up on any day, interviews to organise, books to read or review, or research to undertake. Let’s face it, most of us have other things we could – perhaps should – be doing instead of writing.
To get on with the job, I’m going to start by trying to set aside three 30-minute sessions and two 15-minute sessions for fiction writing each week. And, while unanticipated demands may keep me from sticking with the schedule perfectly, I intend to make regular progress toward developing the habit of writing fiction.
I’m well aware that some days the muse will be absent, and I may very well sit at my desk re-writing the same two or three sentences over and over and still feel dissatisfied at the end of my allotted time. This happens sometimes with my other writing schedule…
Other days, perhaps, I’ll be on a roll and unwilling to stop when the next task on my schedule is due to start. Here’s hoping that happens often!
I know there will be some times when I’ll feel I can keep going — and I give myself permission to do just that. But other times I’ll reluctantly have to close my file and move on – content in the knowledge that there will be another novel-writing session scheduled in a day or two.
There’s a parallel between training myself to write fiction and the training I undertook ahead of my first half-marathon a couple of years ago. As I donned my running gear each morning and headed out the door — come rain, hail or shine — I noticed the efficiency of my running improved over time. I could run further, faster and with increasingly levels of comfort and satisfaction.
So, too, will I begin to discern a glimmer of improvement in my fiction writing (at least, that’s what I hope will happen).
The analogy seems apt: Time, persistence, patience and determination are all necessary when preparing for a race – and equally important when writing a novel. And with the right attitude and regular practice, I know I’ll get there in the end.
Adapted from The Neophite Novelist column originally published in Good Reading.