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How to sit down and actually start writing that novel.

Updated on February 6, 2013

How to get Inspiration.

Now it comes down to the nitty gritty. You’ve never written a novel before and you know that a novel is at least 80,000 words in length! You can’t write that much! The most you’ve ever written in your life is a letter to your mum or dad when you were a kid and even that took you all day.

Writers like to say how hard writing is. It is if your one of those writers for whom writing is a job. When they describe their working day it becomes obvious very quickly that it is a job. At 8 am promptly (or whenever) they sit down at their desk and they don’t get up again until 5 pm. Don’t sit down at your desk unless you have a reason to. If you don’t do something else. Anyway, who says being a writer means you have to sit at a desk and stare at a blank sheet of paper. All your writing should have been done before you even think of sitting down at your desk and picking up a pen. Because all you writing is done in your head. Only then is it time to sit down at your desk. Then all you have to do is transfer your ideas from your head onto a paper. It might take a long time, years even, before you get it right. But it’s not hard.

And where will the idea for your novel come from? You might be thinking that you don’t have a good imagination. Then imagine this: you are watching a film or reading a book and you didn’t think the ending was very plausible. Re-write it. Someone (in a book or a film) says something that upsets you and you riposte by saying…write it down. If you are going to have a meeting with someone or are going to a job interview or want to ask someone a favour what do you do first. You rehearse it in your head. Well, write it down. You are in a queue and you overhear two people talking about a 3rd party but they leave before you have a chance to find out what happened in the end. Write your own ending. A mother is angry with her little son and is shouting at him in the middle of the street. Go home and write it down. Two of your work colleagues at work are talk about something. Write that down as well. There is a man (or woman) that you would like to meet and get to know. You work out how to try and make this happen and what you would say if you did meet. Write it down. You are in your car. Someone cuts you up and makes you boil white hot with rage and your thoughts turn to murder. But of-course that fury subsides and while you are still very angry you are not thinking about murder. But suppose that white hot rage doesn’t subside? You hear a piece of gossip or a rumour. Write it down. You see something that strikes you as odd. You think about it and shake you head and walk on. Every time you think of something write it down. Don’t wait to finish the washing up or wait until the commercial break is on. Get up and write it down. An idea is like a butterfly you see it and admire it and before your know it it’s has gone and you’ll never see it again. But once it’s written down it stays in your head.

Because the most important part of writing is done in your head . All this information which will be swirling about in your mind without form or substance but gradually, in the background while you are getting on with your daily life, this mass of material will be pulled together to create an idea. That idea is called “inspiration” and only when your head has turned all these bits and pieces into something solid will you become aware of it and then you will sit up and cry; “Hey I’ve just had this great idea!” That’s why walking and listening to music is important because it spurs you into daydreaming. That is when your head is working on various scenarios and trying them out. So don’t be afraid to let your mind wander it just means it is busy working on something that could be important. Once your mind has decided on something good it will let you know. You can help this process but sitting at your desk showing the end of your biro staring at a blank sheet of paper is not helping. People think that because they could never dream up something like “Alice in Wonderland” they have no imagination. You do, you just have to pay attention and grab it when it pops up in your head.

The trick is to learn how to be patient. Have a timetable. Plan to write a thousand words every day and to have the first draft finished by the end of the year. But if you don't keep it and miss those deadlines then don't worry; you just make some new ones that's all. As soon as writing becomes work it becomes a chore and that's when you'll starting saying; "oh I can't do this: writing is so hard." Most of the time you wont feel like writing. But how many times have you thought you didn't feel like going to a party only to really enjoy once you were there?


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