So, you want to be a novelist

So, you want to be a novelist, do you? Then I have some advice for you:


And I don’t mean blogs, or Twitter updates, or emails to your friends and family, or To Do lists. I mean write your novel every day.

It’s the hardest simple thing you’ll ever do.

I’m not suggesting writing a novel is simple; it’s not. And I’m not suggesting that to create a novel, you just put one word after another on the page; it’s more than that. But if you don’t start now, and you don’t keep putting those words on those pages, you will definitely never write a novel.

So write every day. Even when you hate your characters. Even when your plot stinks. Even when it’s a beautiful day and all your friends are going to the beach. Even when it’s a miserable day and everything’s going wrong. Even when you feel like a failure.

Especially when you feel like a failure.

Here’s an easy way to stay on target: Don’t Break the Chain. You can even download a free “Don’t Break the Chain” calendar to hang on the wall near your desk, to shame you into doing it every day, no matter what day of the year you start on.

George Orwell did it. So can you. (image via Flavorwire)

I’ve decided I want to finish my novel by the end of this year. December 31, 2011: midnight. I’ve got 36,888 words and need approximately 13,112 more and my first draft will be done. That means 2,186 words per day for 6 days, or roughly 9 pages per day.

It’s not rocket science. It’s butt-in-chair math. It’s doing the work. Shitty first drafts. And then, lots of editing.

But first: the writing. This week is all about it. And the timer starts now.

You say you want to be a novelist. So where’s your novel?

4 Responses
  1. That’s really good advice. I know too many writers who claim to never have the time. Imake sure I do something every day to advance my writing career . Good luck with your book……

  2. Thanks, Christopher. I’ll have to check out your book as well. Congrats on making the 3-Day Novel short list — and on taking your book through to publication!

  3. Thanks for this, it all makes perfect sense! Though I never really thought about it that way. People usually tend to think a novelist was born “a novelist.” Hard work and clocking in hours at your desk adds up. Good luck to you, though I’m sure it’ll be great.

  4. […] be honest: I’ve tried the Don’t Break the Chain method before. It sounds simpler than it is, but the basics are easy enough to do. You grab your calendar and your motivational skills, and […]