Type it Out: 5 Tools for Starting A Novel

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First, I wanted to thank you all for taking the time out to read my debut short story last week! “The Last Letter” got a lot of incredible feedback and it left me feeling so encouraged. A lot of you said you were really hoping for a part two or that I’d go ahead and make it into a novel. While I don’t know for sure,I’ll be seriously considering those options after finishing my current WIP (Work in Progress). For now, though, I wanted to share with you 5 very valuable tools that have proved helpful to get me started on my novel. If you’ve ever thought about writing one yourself, just do it. Hopefully these things will help you get started on the right foot!

1. Kim Chance on YouTube

Kim Chance is a Young Adult Author and has an incredible YouTube channel devoted to the writing and publishing process. I had randomly typed in a search awhile back on writing and novel and stumbled upon her videos. She clearly indicates how to setup your manuscript, what the process of querying is like and the highs and lows of publishing. She doesn’t sugar coat anything which also helps me set my expectations of my future endeavors in querying after my novel is done.

Kim also hosts a weekly Facebook Live with her critique partner, Megan, where they do writing sprints. Writing sprints are basically timed writing blocks where you just try to get as many words typed out as humanly possible on your WIP. I average anywhere between 500-600 words in a 15 minute sprint and that is still including moments of second guessing things I’m typing out and doing minor corrections. So, I know if I can really focus in on just the words, I’ll be able to increase my word count doing the sprints.

2. Background Noise

I do really enjoy writing in coffee shops. However, there are days and times when doing that isn’t really convenient or possible. I also don’t work well in complete silence, so that’s why public places help me be so much more productive. I discovered having the appropriate background noise is really helpful. So I did a little search on Spotify and found out they have a background noise track of a coffee house! I play that on a loop and it really helps me focus. Now that Spring is around the corner, I’m looking forward to finding a great thunderstorm track to play.

3. Simple Comforts

Besides having a clean and organized workspace, there are things I really need to have close by that help keep me comfortable. If you can surround yourself with things that keep you in one place, you’ll be able to work in larger blocks without as many interruptions.

One of the major things I needed was coffee. Sounds cliche, but I enjoy coffee and can make one cup go quite a way. At most, I’ll drink two cups. Since my Yeti keeps my coffee warm for a long time, I can nurse a cup of coffee throughout a few hours of writing. Along with coffee is a quick snack. My favorite right now is chocolate covered espresso beans. I obviously have to be careful not to eat too many, but if I just need to munch for a second, I have them right next to the keyboard. Then I keep a little Chapstick and hand lotion in close proximity as well.

4. Post-It Notes

I mentioned in a previous post, but I actually outlined my whole novel on my office wall with Post-It notes. I had columns according to chapter along with a plan of what inciting incidents would happen in each chapter. This only took about a day because I had already had ideas swirling around in my head. Once I got them out in Post-It form, I could rearrange them on the wall or take off a Post-It if it was an element I wanted to cut or change. It also keeps me on task as I’m writing.

Writers talk about being “pantsers” or “plotters”. I’m a little bit of both. I’m a “plotter” in the sense that I like to have a rough plan of where I’m going from start to finish. I also like to have a goal for word counts per day, week and for the novel overall. Then I’m a “pantser” in that I typically just write each chapter’s details as it comes to me. In some instances, I even surprise myself with some of the turns the story has naturally taken. Having an overall plan, though, is so helpful when it comes to getting it all out quickly.

5. A Critique Partner

Right now, my husband has been playing the role of critique partner and editor. While he’s not writing a novel for me to critique, he is selflessly taken on the challenge to help me tighten up the writing and make needed corrections. While most writers don’t suggest using a person you know well for this, I tend to think it depends on your relationship and if you can trust them to give you honest feedback. Then there’s the need to trust yourself not to take the critique personally. A lot of people who write guard their writing carefully only releasing it when they are sure of what they’ve put out there. Having a critique partner is an exercise in trust, so choose wisely. There are a few groups out there on Twitter and Facebook devoted to helping you cross paths with potential critique partners. It takes cultivating the relationship to really get the most out of it in terms of critique, but once you do, you’ll have a trusted person to help you through the writing process.

Bonus update:

As I go through the rest of the process, I’m sure I’ll discover more tools to help people along the novel writing process. For now, I’m in just the beginning and these are the things that have proven helpful right out of the gate. As it stands, I was able to pump out 10,000 words in my first week. My goal is to try for 20,000 to add to that this week. My overall goal is 70,000 words that I can hopefully finish by the end of the month.

Be sure you keep up with me on Instagram for daily updates on my progress! Maybe I should do a live reading of my short story with a little Q & A Session? What do you think?

18 Comments

    • I know others that have that same experience in public. I think for me it’s just about a different environment than my home office. Otherwise, I’d probably get distracted too. lol. Then again, people watching can get my creative juices flowing!

  • I’m glad the feedback from the story you shared encouraged you. It was a lovely piece of writing. Your tips are great. I like the sound of the 15 minute sprint to try to get a good volume of writing done. I must try that sometime.

  • I love using Post-it notes to jot down ideas. I use different colors for different things. I also color my text when I’m writing—Red is always for things I want to change later.

  • I love writing in a coffee shop too – the smell of coffee and the ambience and people-watching opportunities – but I never get as much work done as at home. The soundtrack sounds like a great compromise.

  • I definitely cannot work when there is complete silence. Music, television noise or kids playing outside are soothing background sounds for me to think. As to writing a book.. well have not given it a serious thought. Perhaps one day. Wishing you all the best.

  • Great tips and post! I don’t write novels but many of these apply to blogging as well, for background noise I enjoy having music vs tv otherwise I get distracted.

  • Lover of Post-It Notes here! AND COFFEE! Lots and lots of double shot latte’s! My husband finally broke down and bought me a really nice machine and there is nothing better than that morning latte and sitting down to write!

  • Oh wow I didn’t know anything about the background coffee place music!! I need to try that! I usually write in almost complete silence, but I do light up a candle that crackles as it burns. Somehow, the subtle noise soothes me and helps me concentrate. A critique partner is an awesome idea!!! I need to find one. Thank you for sharing!

  • This is so useful! I’ve been meaning to actually sit down and write something for a long time, but it always gets pushed to the back burner! I’ve been getting serious about doing my blog and slowly improving my writing

  • Background noise is such a big part of my writing as well. Sometimes I like it soothing and other times I like it loud and like a party lol. Mood writing is a thing for me and I love to be in an environment that lets me flow. Great post!

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