Writing a novel can seem like a scary and looming task…minimum of 60,000 WORDS!!! You may be thinking no way is that going to happen! But trust me…the toughest part is just taking the first step.
I happen to get my best ideas when I’m asleep, and I know many other writers that do. My theory is that when we’re asleep our imaginations are most active and free, and we have dreams and thoughts of things that may seem ridiculous in the real world but can be shaped into the plot of a beautiful story. But of course, this is why we think of them while we’re asleep: because they’re not the type of idea that is straightforward that we think of in the day. The best thoughts come from a free imagination (ask kids! They actually tend to have some great ideas!)
So, now, how do you capture the ideas if you’re sleeping??? I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea, then within a few seconds I realize it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, groan, and fall back asleep. The key is to capture the idea before you forget it (and you will once you fall asleep again) so I keep a small notebook and a pen by my bed. If I wake up with a great idea, I’ll quickly scrawl it down then fall asleep again. The same thing applies to when you wake up in the morning: if you don’t write it down right away then it’s gone, trust me.
Once you have your idea, you have two options : plan, or don’t plan. I’m one of the don’t plan people. I start with an initial idea and it just builds from there, and I subconsciously develop my characters as I write and I keep coming up with new ideas for things to happen as the story develops more. Then again, I’m a very messy and unorganized person. I know many people who are neat like to plan out the story perfectly before they write a single word of their novel. It’s totally up to you: whatever you prefer, just stick to it.
Now, you write. I’ll tell you right now that the rough draft is the hardest part. It’s like clawing your way through a brick wall with your fingernails. And if you don’t have perseverance you WILL NOT FINISH IT. Trust me. I’ve been there, done that. I find that the best thing to do is set a certain amount of words to write per day, and that will keep you motivated. You can also then calculate about how many days it will take you to finish the rough draft, if you’re one of those people with no patience (like me…). Also, keep jotting down new ideas to keep the material fresh. You don’t want to get bored with your story.
Now that you’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your rough draft, it’s time to rip it apart. One big thing to keep in mind? DO NOT fall in love with your rough draft. You are going to go thorugh every word, every sentence, varying lengths of paragraphs and sentences and sentence types and sentence beginnings, using deep thought and strong words and phrases, editing more and more, making draft after draft after draft…until you feel it is perfect. There’s nothing more you can do to make it better. This is the best you could possibly do (and no, a third draft DOES NOT count as a final draft, you patienceless people).
Once you’ve reached this stage, it’s time to submit to a publisher. Do your research! I can’t answer the question of which publisher to use for you, because it’s completely up to you. Remember your SASE (self-adressed stamped envelope) and write yourself one freaking good cover letter, and send it in.
Whether your piece is published or not, it’s important that you stay true to yourself and love your work. Embrace rejection! J.K. Rowling’s amazing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times until Bloomsbury finally published it. So have faith! And most of all, love what you’re doing and enjoy writing.