Many aspiring authors take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) every year with the aim to pen (or type) 50,000 words in a month. The organisers of NaNoWriMo count this as a complete book, which is debatable, considering the average traditionally published novel comes in at around 80-120k. However, indie publishing is trending towards shorter ebooks published more frequently.
Either way, for someone who struggles to write regularly, NaNoWriMo is a great way to set their typing fingers alight. But what the heck do you do once you tumble out of NaNo with 50k words? Wait again until next year to complete it, edit it, forget about it?
While I have been a participant of NaNo myself, and believe it has its uses, if you are serious about becoming a writer you need to do two things:
- Write consistently, ideally on a daily or weekly basis.
- Edit, edit, edit, then edit some more.
Easier said than done, right? Especially if you’re a new writer who lacks confidence or doesn’t know where to start. Writing is the only way you’ll learn the craft of writing. Just like you’ll never be able to play the piano unless you actually practice, a lot. Here are some tips to get you started with developing a regular writing regime:
- Get a notebook for jotting down ideas, names, anything that excites you to get writing. Over time, your writing notebook will help you sketch out characters and ideas that inspire you. Think of it as muse on the go.
- Set a reasonable target based on your schedule. Be honest with yourself about how much time you spend dithering, on Facebook, or binge-watching Netflix box sets. Most people can find some time during the day, even if it’s only ten minutes. You won’t write 1000 words in ten minutes, maybe 100. But that’s okay.
- Try different genres and forms. I prefer novel-length fiction, but maybe short stories are your jam. Maybe you’re a poet but you didn’t know it (see what I did there? I amaze myself sometimes). If nothing thrills you more than a good murder, perhaps crime fiction is a good place to start. Not sure what to write? Look for writing competitions that have a theme and start submitting. Who knows, you might just win.
- Be honest about your goals. Have you always dreamed of being a famous novelist? Or do you just want to write for fun and don’t really care about being published? I think you can guess which option requires a lot more dedication and work. Engage with your passion and let it shape your life. That’s the only way you’ll succeed.
It may take a while, but soon you’ll have a body of work ready to be submitted to agents, publishers, competitions, or uploaded online. The market for books is booming, and authors are flooding into the gaps. Even within indie publishing, the standards are rising fast as competition increases. So if you’re serious about getting noticed, you MUST edit your work and polish it to (near) perfection.
A lot of writers are terrified about editing. They often have no idea where to start. Luckily for you, I have created a FREE 3-Day Self-Editing Course to get you started. GET IT HERE.
Once you have done your best with your manuscript, you may require a second opinion and some extra help. This is true even for professional authors. It’s very difficult to be objective about your own work and where its flaws are. Books are like babies, and you don’t hand them over without trepidation. I know it’s scary, but making sure a doctor (editor) has checked over your baby (book) before it goes out into the big, wide world is just being a responsible parent (writer).
If you’ve reached the stage where you’re ready to perfect your work, check out the services I offer HERE. Did you know I also offer free sample edits?
That’s it! Happy Writing.
Tell me in the comments what your biggest time-suck is! Other than kids and going to work, of course ;).
Ciao for now,