How to Publish a Novel: Part 1

It feels like December 24th. I have found the perfect Christmas gift, and it is wrapped and ready and waiting. Oh my goodness, the anticipation! I can’t wait for the day that you get to open it.

I’m very excited to be sharing my debut novel with you VERY soon. This has been such a journey. I have learned that going from writer to author take a lot of work. This is my story and it may not be the same process for everyone, but it helps me stay organized and hopefully you learn something too.

This blog mini-series has eight steps. As I work towards publishing in July, you’ll get two blog posts a week! I’m so happy you have you as a reader, follower, and fan.

Part 1: Write until It’s Done

The first step is not only to write, but to finish writing! NaNoWriMo got me through to my first draft. It stands for National Novel Writing Month (November) with the soft goal of 50,000 words defining a novel (versus a novella). I finished at 50,057 words.

A few things helped me finish. For one, having a log helped me match my word count goal with my plot goals. Otherwise the climax would have been 2 pages before I moved on. Second, I started as a rebel, with 25,000 words on my novel. And third, I learned the following tips about writing that I want to share with you.

Tip 1: Set time boundaries

Let me do some math for you. NaNoWriMo 50,000 is 1,667 words a day for 30 days. It takes me on average 3 hours to write that many words. Let’s just say that is a big time commitment. Thinking about your novel as time rather than words really helped me finish what I started. I couldn’t commit to 3 hours a day, but I could do 1 to 1.5 hours a day. My goal was to write 800 words every day. It was still tough, but doable. And yes, the last day I had to write over 2,300 but I did it.

Tip 2: Don’t skip a day

Here’s the ugly truth about tip number one. It is really hard to make up a day so don’t. Don’t reason it at all. If you miss a day, oh sure, you can try to say that’s only 57 extra words a day for 29 days… that doesn’t sound too bad. But that’s best case if you skipped day 1; worst case is skipping second to last day with 3,334 words. And that’s just skipping ONE day. I know. It starts to get scary, setting goals. But if you instead think about TIME, finding an additional three hours of free time was hard to do in the first place so more than three hours…. hmmmmm. Write every day.

Tip 3: Find a trend

My word count fluctuated wildly. There were days I only wrote 370 words and days I wrote 1,257. When you write every day, you can start to see when creativity sparks. Did you write at midnight or over a lunch break? Did the glass of wine help or hinder?

For me, I learned a secret. It wasn’t when or how I felt, it was the type of writing that increased my writing speed. I learned that writing dialog flowed easily. So if I was feeling stuck, ta-da, oh another character walked in and now we have a conversation going. World building on the contrary dragged my word count to a crawl because I would get caught up in research. It’s what worked for me and I recommend finding your sweet spot.

Tip 4: Don’t read

Some people like to read what they wrote yesterday before writing today. I am going to say very loudly: DON’T. And don’t edit while you are writing. Do not edit! Stop that! Don’t read anything that is already on the page. Writing is not about making something polished that flows. I would argue, don’t even fix spelling (which of course those little red or green lines drive us nuts, but that’s because they are doing their job of distracting us too well). I would get instantly caught up in tweaking what was already there, and moving towards finishing something instantly becomes a standstill. Keep going forward, get all of the ideas out of your head and onto a page before you go back and fix anything.

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