Want to write a bestselling novel? There are three basic things you need to do:
1. Write a novel.
2. Write a good novel, probably by much editing of #1.
3. Sell a lot of copies of your novel.
(Or alternatively, become a celebrity and ghost-write a novel. But I digress.)
Today’s all about #1, which is surprisingly difficult. Personally, I almost always write extremely fast first drafts (my realist novel was written in three days). I recommend every beginner uses a similarly manic method in order to finish that first book. Later on, you’ll know your own endurance better and can develop your own equally peculiar habits. (It also helps to split it up – I think of each 2000-word chapter as its own short story.) For your first book, the hardest part is physically writing it. So don’t worry; you can make it good LATER.
That means you DON’T re-read from the beginning every morning (you’ll get caught up in either how fantastic you are or how horrific you are, and both will slow down the actual writing), you don’t obsess over individual sentences, and you definitely don’t give the first chapter or first fifty pages to someone else to read and comment on.*
Today I’ll be taking my own medicine and speed-writing a 2000-word chapter in the next two hours. My computer says 11.42. See you at 1.42.
Here’s the notes I’ll be working from (divided into 500-word sections):
***search for Mrs Sweeton [who was recently abducted by the baddie]. They walk the grid, in pairs, in the nearby bushland. Yol and mr Johnson are left behind minding kids. Amy [that’s the hero] is paired with another character, Mrs banks [new character],
who is poking rudely at her mind.
They mentally fight, and go deep enough to satisfy amy that it wasn’t mrs banks who took mrs sweeton.
Is danny [amy’s boyfriend, who just publicly fought with her] planning to propose? What would amy say? Amy’s only just getting the hang of him, and is afraid. Mrs Banks comments on their fight.
Hi again. It’s 1:26 and my chapter reached about 2005 words. I have a wonderful buzz of achievement, and I’ll come back later and probably find one or two good bits that I never planned. That’s the magic of getting words on paper – good stuff is bound to spill out with the bad.
*Partly because it’s just cruel to that person, and partly because your creative and editing selves are located in different parts of the brain, and simply don’t work well together. Write now, edit later. Trust me on this.