Lessons Learned From Completing My First Novel

By on August 9, 2017
Lessons Learned From Completing My First Novel - Writer's Life.org

Finally getting to the end of your first novel can feel like the greatest achievement on earth. When you finally finish and get it out there into the world all that hard work, all those long, late nights, all the blood, sweat and tears - it can all feel truly worth it.

However, if you stop there you might never achieve the success you had hoped for. In fact, statistically, authors who go on to write second and third books are more likely to have their worked published, and tend to be viewed as more trustworthy by readers in general.

So, while writing one book may be an amazing feat, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels for long, and indeed should get back to writing and creating as soon as possible.

The great thing about writing a second novel is that you will be armed full of knowledge, of lessons learned, and mistakes made from your first that you can use to make this one even better.

Here are just some of the most useful lessons I learned when writing my first book, ones that would have been good to know from the outset!

The novel isn’t going to write itself

OK, this might seem glaringly obvious, but I spent a whole lot of time procrastinating, plotting, planning and generally faffing about before I got down to writing my novel, and when I finally did so, I did it painfully slowly. If you want to get a novel written you have to write it. You have to be dedicated to it, make time for it, and be ruthless when it comes to sticking to your routine.

It’s OK to go back and start again, or get halfway through and make a huge change which means a complete overhaul of your plot

Your story is never going to end up how you thought it would. Once you start writing and get lost in your world you’ll end up taking your story in directions you had never previously imagined. That’s all part of the fun. OK so some days it may seem like you are taking two steps forward and one step back, but you will be making progress, and making your novel the very best it can be in the process, even if you have to scrap half of what you have already written to do so.

There are certain things a novel can’t live without

Your novel needs to contain a journey be that literal or metaphorical (or both!), the characters must change and grow and be relatable. There must be a goal, and there must be obstacles that get in the way of the goal and it needs to be set in a world that you have described in a way that your readers can picture it. Think about these elements before you start writing your next book and make sure they are all included in unique, surprising, amazing ways and you’ll have the basis for a great story already covered.

You are going to feel paranoid, scared, elated, confused, frustrated, angry, disheartened and a whole bunch of other things in between.

Writing is emotional, and the highs and lows are just part of the job. Find coping mechanisms, accept that you’ll have good days and bad days and keep believing in yourself no matter what.

Don’t let writing take over your life

Writing a novel is a mammoth task and while it’s wonderful to get immersed in your writing, you need to come up for air sometimes. Take breaks, have fun, get distracted. Just like any other job, you can’t focus on it 24 hours a day seven days a week, it will drive you crazy if you try to and will probably end up making your writing a little bit worse!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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