The process of starting to write a book is almost like jumping into an ice-cold pool with no bottom. As much as you can’t wait to dive in and get the hardest part over with, it’s not safe, or smart, to go in headfirst right away.
We’re here to guide you through the initial, simple steps you can take to starting your book without setting yourself up for falling short of your end goal (finishing it). Are you ready? One. Two. Three.
Step 1: Let your initial idea sit in your head for a little while
This first step doesn’t seem so hard, right? You don’t even have to write anything. Except, at this point you have an idea, and the itch to start writing it is so unbearable you probably can’t imagine, well, not.
That initial spark of inspiration isn’t going to go away if you don’t start writing right this second. You’ll have a much more successful, productive start if you give that idea time to develop a little. While you don’t have to know the exact beginning, middle and end of your story, you should have a good handle on where you want to start before you actually do. This can take a little time, but it is definitely worth the wait.
Step 2: Sit down and write a sentence
It doesn’t have to be the first sentence or the last one. It doesn’t even have to be the beginning of a chapter or scene. Often the reason we’re so eager to start writing a new story is because there’s a single line stuck in our heads, and that alone is enough to thrust our minds into overdrive.
Just sit down and write down that line, no matter where it might fall in the story that may or may never actually become a story. It will instantaneously put your brain at ease. If you want to expand on it and write a few more lines, go or it. But I that’s all you have, leave it. It’s written and it’s been documented. If you’re not in a place where you can start writing a new story, at least that line is out of your head, ready and waiting for you when you get to that place.
Step 3: In the beginning, think more often than you write
The early stages of novel-writing are crucial. This is where you develop the voice of your narrator or main character and start to formulate the style you’ll continue writing in throughout the duration of your project. While it’s not wrong to dive right in and write hundreds upon hundreds of words within the first few days, it might be best to take it slow.
Is that an easy thing to do, faced with a new idea and enough inspiration to last basically a lifetime? Of course not. But you don’t want to use it all up at once, either. In the beginning, it’s okay to spend more time contemplating your next move than you do actually making it. While you may not always realize it, writing is an exhausting task. It often leaves you feeling drained and empty, no matter how motivated you are to keep writing. You definitely don’t want to burn yourself out only 10 pages in.
Like the entire process of novel-writing, starting a novel takes patience and discipline. But if you’re not very strong in either of those areas, don’t give up before you even get the chance to try: you might find that writing is your strength, and hey—you might even be really good at it, too.
Take a deep breath. Think it over. Ease yourself in slowly, and watch your story come to life.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.