Writing by Jess Kitching // photograph by Thu Hoai Nguyen
There’s just one problem with that dream though – getting what’s in your mind onto the page.
It’s true what they say, writing a book isn’t easy. It takes patience, effort, dedication, and more time editing than seems humanly possible. Writing a book is a wonderful dream to have, but it’s also a mountain to climb.
The great news is that you can do it, and here are a few tips to help you along the way.
- Write something you care about. You’re going to spend the next few weeks, months, and years with these characters, so you’d best get connected to them. That doesn’t mean you have to write ‘perfect’ characters – the messier the better in my opinion – but just make sure that what you’re saying is something you feel passionately about. For me, I wanted to talk about the lasting trauma of bullying and the pressures women face these days. I kept that goal in mind as I wrote, and my desire to be part of that conversation when I found it tough to write kept me going.
- Take things one step at a time, not one book at a time. Writing a novel is exciting, but it’s also a huge project. There are thousands of words to write, hundreds of pages to edit. If you focus on the end product, it’s overwhelming. So, break it up into mini tasks. Want to write 500 words today? Go for it! Want to finish the chapter you’re currently working on? You’ve got this! Feeling like that section of dialogue needs rewriting? What a great focus! Breaking the novel up into smaller chunks is much more manageable and ensures your stress levels aren’t at breaking point.
- Share your writing. This is probably one of the scariest parts of being a writer. Knowing that something you’ve spent hours and hours of your life on is one day going to be read, judged, and critiqued is tough, so it’s best to get used to it. Find a group of people you’re comfortable with – it could be friends, family or even a local writing group – and share your work. Not only will they provide invaluable feedback that will improve your writing, but they will also help you build a thicker skin for when it comes to releasing your book to the world.
- Plan in breaks. As important as making time for writing is, so is making time for breaks. Creative burnout is real, and it’s a novel killer. Make sure you give yourself the space you need to not be ‘author’ you. Rest, read, relax. I promise you’ll come back to the writing process with a clearer head and much more energised.
- Know that there is no ‘one way’ to write a novel. Some people plan their novel chapter by chapter. They create illustrations of their characters and write detailed character profiles. Other people have an idea and just fly with it. A quick Google search will give you a million and one different answers on the ‘right’ way to write a novel, but there is no ‘right’ way. A plan helps some people, but it also constricts others. Free flow writing allows some people to soar but leaves others meandering and stuck. What works for you is what works for you – lean into it and get those words on the page.
There are so many other tips I could write – read widely, reach out to authors for advice, don’t be afraid to fail- but the simple message is that you can do this. Coming up with the dream and the idea is half the battle. Trust in yourself and your talents. I know I for one can’t wait to read your book.
You can read Jess Kitching’s latest book The Girl She Was Before on kindle or buy the paperback here.