By Mary Kennedy
Am I an expert at writing novels? Heck no! Is there any reason to heed my advice? Maybe not. But on the plus side, I've written (and sold) 47 novels to major NY publishers. Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way.
1. Don't get paralyzed by the feeling that maybe your novel will never see the light of day. If you give up now, it definitely won't. I can guarantee it. The only thing now is to persevere. If you hit a snag put a double XX or some marker in the ms and keep going You can go back and fix it later.
2. Don't get hung up by the small stuff. If you can't find a description of a Victorian parlour, don't let the writing grind to a halt. You're probably only talking about a paragraph in the finished novel. Keep going!
3. Stick to a schedule. Yes, everyone needs a break, but are you taking a break or an escape? Hint: a nap is an escape.
4. Don't get distracted by other online activities. If necessary, use a separate computer for writing. Some of my friends do this and recommend it.
5. Stop talking about your "work in progress" to your friends. Newsflash: they may not find your WIP as fascinating as you do. Not saying this is the case, but consider the possibility. And think how silly you're going to feel when six months pass, or a year passes and there is no book! Luckily, they will probably have forgotten but why take a chance?
6. Set a deadline. You know the difference between a dream and a goal? It's a DEADLINE. Get out the calendar and mark off how many pages you are going to write a day. 5 or 6 is a good estimate. Now work backwards. Pick a date about six months from now. Check off how many writing days it will take to complete your book by that date. Set a page goal. Write down how many pages you wrote on Monday, for example. If you didn't write any,and your goal is six pages a day then you have to write 12 pages on Tuesday. Trust me, you will not feel like it.
Finally, it's easy to talk about writing. A lot of people do and they never follow through. If you're serious about writing as a career, then make it a priority, even if you have to burn the midnight oil or get up at the crack of dawn to get your "pages' done for the day.
No excuses, and good luck!