Your deadlines are set and your calendar is drafted. Now, it’s time to start writing! But as daunting as penning a whole novel may seem, there are a few strategies you can use to keep yourself on track.
Contact Your Beta Readers
At the beginning of my first week of writing, I like to send my betas a schedule of my deadline goals. I am extremely lucky to have a team of friends and family who are not only willing to edit my work, but are also qualified.
Of course, because they’re working as friends and not employees, I try to be very respectful of their time. So, after I ask everyone whether or not they’re willing to participate on a project, I create a spreadsheet based on their availability.
With five beta readers, I’m able to have three to four rounds of editing:
- The two betas in blue make up my structural team. They let me know what does and doesn’t work in the story. They like to receive individual chapters and make comments throughout the process.
- The lovely beta in green is the hybrid brigade. She gives me some structural comments, but mainly points out stupid mistakes and consistency errors. She usually prefers waiting until she’s read the whole story to add her input.
- My second-to-last line of defense is team yellow. (He hates reading, but since he has two degrees in English-related fields — and I iron his clothes every morning — he’s contractually obligated to help.)
- And the final line of defense is orange: the typo police. Orange is the newest member of the team. She joined our ranks after she found a handful of stupid typos when my first book was released. So, she’s been officially sworn-in this time around.
Don’t be afraid to delete things . . .
For many of us, writing that first page can be a real challenge. There’s something both beautiful and terrifying about a clean slate, but don’t be afraid. Just write. Worse comes to worst, you’ll absolutely hate your first scene or chapter and replace it during the revision process . . . and that’s actually much easier than it sounds.
But if things do start to feel overwhelming, try creating a little mood journal for your writing project. You don’t have to journal every day, just make a note when you feel really productive or when you feel like you’ve hit a road block. In the future, your journal will serve as a friendly reminder that roadwork doesn’t last forever, and eventually, you’ll get your story rolling again.
But whatever you do this week, just write!
It doesn’t matter whether your work is great or terrible, only that you’re moving forward. After all, if you want to publish a novel, you have to write it first. So get out your notebook, laptop, or typewriter, and get to writing. Good luck!