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September 18th, 2009


Part three in "Writing and Publishing  Novel" is all about how to actually write your book. 

When last we left off, you had a killer idea, and you had your character(s) figured out. Now you just have to write it. Easy peasy, right?

I am SO amazed at how many people ask "how" to write a novel. They find out I'm a writer and they look right at me and they say, "How did you write a book?"

I mean, I sat down at the computer and started writing words and they became a story. But that's apparently too obvious. I think they'd be more impressed if I explained a complext system of spreadsheets and color-coded index cards.

I think what they are really asking is this: How do you get started and stay motivated when you know you have 200+ more pages to write?

I'm not gonna lie. It helps that I write quickly. If it took me a year+ to write a novel, maybe my tips would be different. Instead it takes me 8-12 weeks for a rough draft.

In the beginning, I'm in love, toatlly enamored by this fabulous idea, and the first 10,000-15,000 words pour out. But then it turns into a grind, and I push myself through to the middle.

But then I get to the middle and the enthusiasm wanes, and I can spend a few days opening the word document but not writing. Instead i play on twitter and refresh my email.

Maybe this is what writer's block is. I don't really understand writer's block. Is it supposed ot mean that you're just totally stuck and can't move forward?

When I feel myself losing interest, I just force through it. Basically, I just choose any scene that sounds interesting-- even if its the climax or the ending--and I start writin git. I can write five or six of those. But watching the word count grow gets the momentum back. Then I start filling in the blanks, teh stuff I skipped.

Usually, in the end, I delete most of those scenes I skipped ahead for. They generally don't fit anymore, sincne i"m not a big plotter and the story changes as I go. But the fact that I got moving again and the story began to flow makes it worth it.


The thing about rough drafts is they are meant to be rough. I can't stress this enough, but You can not fix a blank page. If you have words on it, then you have something to work with. Just write the freakin first draft and stop worrying about how much it sucks. Do you think when someone is making a scuplture-- let's say a bust-- that they start out perfecting the nose before they even have the rest of the head carved out? There is on reason for you to dawdle on one chapter or another.

Just sit down and type. Move your fingers on the keyboard. Fill the white space with words. If you have no idea where you are going, just type nonsense. Bad dialogue, long scenery descriptions, and mechanical day to day motions. Eventually you'll find your story.

So what does BICHOK mean?

BUTT IN CHAIR, HANDS ON KEYBOARD. It's the only way to get the thing written!
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