Before we dive in, I’d like you to repeat these four words: I am a writer.
If you’re embarking on this wild journey of writing a book, which is a ton of work, then you ARE a writer. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do it for a living. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t published a book. It doesn’t even matter if you haven’t finished the book.
You are a writer. Now, let’s get started.
Get in the right headspace
Deciding to get started is usually the easy part. A grand idea strikes your fancy like a lightning rod of inspiration and thusly you’re compelled to share that idea as a novel. Great job, you just got started!
End of blog post, right?
Wrong! Having an idea and deciding to write a book are both crucial to write a novel but those are not the only things you have to consider. There are actually several hundred things to consider, but I will be kind and walk you through the highlights.
Understand your ‘why’
When you sit down to write this burning novel idea, I hope you can answer this one question: Why do you want to write a book?
If you understand why you’re writing the book, you’ll likely cling to that motivation to push through those pesky little points where you get stuck.
Understanding why you’re writing a book can help you understand what you’re hoping to accomplish by writing the book. This could be as simple as the victory of having written a novel or it could be as ambitious as the New York Times bestseller list. Having a goal in mind will help keep you motivated.
No matter what your end goal is, there’s two directions that you’ll want to approach when beginning a novel:
The actual process of writing a book from concept to completion.
The importance of cultivating an author platform.
1. The Process of Writing a Novel
Start by Writing
This might feel like a no-brainer, but the secret to writing a novel is simply by writing it. It’s putting the words on paper, sentence by sentence, until you have a steaming mess of a story.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
The best way to enhance your craft as a writer is by writing. If you take nothing else away from this article, just remember that it’s so important to continue to write.
Writing the First Words
A blank page is terrifying.
When approaching your first draft, get comfortable with the idea of “writing badly”. The first words put onto a blank page don’t have to be good, but they do have to exist in order to get started.
I recommend not thinking too much about editing when writing your first draft, but let that part of the process live in the background like scrub brush waiting to swoop in and clean up later.
Discovering your Writing Style
You may have heard other writers describe themselves in terms such as “plotter” “pantser” “outliner” or “discovery writer.” If you’re writing your first book or are still starting out, you probably don’t know your writing style or what works best for you.
That’s the exciting part of being a newbie is the boundless opportunity to experiment. Try out different writing exercises. Explore different nuisances of writing craft. Look at this early stage of your writing journey as one learning adventure right after the next.
It’s okay to Lose Steam
There’s a reason we often refer to the middle of a book as the “murky middle”. The halfway point is usually when your doubt peaks and your inspiration goes stagnant. Writing as an industry can often be slow moving and frustrating.
Understand that it’s okay to lose steam and to take a break when you need it. But never let this momentary dip convince you to give up. Remember why you started and continue.
2. Starting an author platform
Why it’s important to do this now
You might wonder, why create an author platform before I have a book or before I’m published?
To that I have a variety of answers:
Growing platform is a great way to connect with other writers, who offer a wealth of useful information and support.
Overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there as a writer warms you up to the idea of having others read and critique your writing. Feedback is one of the best gifts a writer can get to help them grow.
Being engaged in an active community is fulfilling and can gratify all the hard work you put into your writing.
If any sort of publishing is your goal (traditional or indie) you will need an author platform. It’s never too early to start.
Come up with a marketing plan
Unsure where to begin? Look at the social media platform you use most frequently, follow and engage with other authors, create an account that suits your author brand.
Don’t have a brand? Of course you do! Branding is all about what makes you unique and how you wish to present yourself online.
For example — A fantasy writer who likes shiny objects, obsesses over writing craft, and spends a little too much time making aesthetic boards for current WIP… And thus my ‘Newbie to Novelist’ brand was born.
Find a community
Learning from other writers is a great way to ease yourself into your author platform. I found The Writer Community when I first made my platform and author Instagram account. I’m forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from engaging with other community members.
Especially when you’re first starting out, it's overwhelming to see already established accounts with a ton of followers. But you can observe how others have promoted their author presence and tailor yours to your unique voice and brand.
Remember that you get what you give online. Actively engaging and supporting others is necessary to making connections that run deeper than an algorithm.
One last thing
Remember, you are a writer.
Self-doubt, limiting beliefs, imposter syndrome, inner bullies, and fear are all annoying enemies that will try to distract you from writing your manuscript. Just like everyone has a different writing process, everyone handles those enemies differently. But we all have them.
No matter what form your enemies take, remember the reason you started writing. Remember, you are a writer (see I repeated it once more with feeling). And remember that every writer has had to start as a newbie.
Now go write!
Meet Laura Savage
Laura is a YA/NA fantasy author, The Writer Community Brand Ambassador and friend to Newbie writers. She is the founder of Newbie to Novelist, which releases content weekly, features posts by guest authors, and has a monthly newsletter. She also hosts a writing/reading series on Instagram live titled, Well Read, Better Written. When she isn’t working full time as a marketing coordinator, she is writing or thinking about writing. Due to her self diagnosed “shiny object syndrome” she constantly has at least two projects going on. Laura lives in the Disney created town of Celebration, FL with her partner and loves that she is only a few steps away from an ice cream shop.