I am now on my fourth novel and recently was asked about my first. Ah, my first novel. Writing that was an adventure. Why? Let’s dig right in, shall we? Here are the things I know now that I wish I had known when I wrote my first novel.
1) Planning is my superpower.
I didn’t know this when I wrote my first novel. I had always been a pantser, and that was all I knew. Now I know differently – I am actually a plotter. Writing my first novel was a massive challenge for me because I had no idea what was coming next in my story. Now, I know much more about myself. I know that I excel when I have a plan. I know I get more written, my structure is tighter, and I can sit down at my computer after a break and know precisely where I left off. That, for me, is a game-changer. If you’re a pantser, I salute you! It’s a challenge and a half for me to create a plot as I write. We all write differently, and finding out how we write is a huge part of getting the best out of ourselves.
2) The dip is coming – stay on course.
The dreaded dip. What is it? It’s essentially the middle. We begin writing full of ideas and plans and excited for the written word, and then something usually happens after fifty thousand or so words. We hit the dip and lose motivation. How I dealt with this in my first novel was not ideal. I essentially added a new character and plotline, trying to regain some of that magic I felt in the original. Ultimately, I had to remove 50,000 words in the second edit, which took a huge re-write. Now I deal with the dip much better because I expect it – I prep to keep myself motivated and stay on course.
3) A writing routine is essential.
When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I wrote in fits and starts, bursts and jumps. I responded to deadlines but didn’t feel like I had a writing routine – well, that’s because I didn’t. However, once I investigated my writing time and found a writing routine that worked for me, I wrote twice as much. Life suddenly became much more manageable. Want to create your own writing routine? Read this blog post here!
4) Write what you love – you’re going to read it thousands of times.
Seriously. I read my first novel so often that I was totally fed up with it by the time I finished it. And actually, this relates to point one, too – if I had taken the time to plan my novel, knowing that what worked for me was plotting, I would have had more passion and excitement for what was coming. Instead, I just felt confused. I workshopped it so many times that I fell out of love with it. None of my subsequent novels has been this way. I still love all of them. Why? First of all, because I spent time workshopping the plan and plot before I began writing, leaning into my desire to be a plotter. Secondly, because I chose to write about something that fascinated me, settling into a genre that spoke to my passions. That changed it all, friend. Writing Your Passion is a class I teach in my writing masterclass, It’s Time To Write Your Novel. Learn more here!
5) Self-doubt is normal, but it doesn’t mean your feelings are facts.
I am yet to meet a writer who hadn’t suffered from imposter syndrome at some point in their lives, me included. But, since writing my first novel, I have spent thousands of hours (and pounds) investing in working on my mindset, and it has been enlightening in so many ways. Self-doubt is normal, but it doesn’t mean your feelings are fact. Ready to work on your mindset too? Click here.
So, what do you wish you had known before beginning your first novel? I would love to know, so contact me and tell me!