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Welcome to my new page dedicated to anyone who's always wanted to write a novel, but didn't know where to start. I'll post a tip each day from my book
365 Days of Motivation & Tips to Write a Great Book!

and then, I want to hear from you:

Like the Personal Fiction-Writing Coach FB page and leave a comment to let me and your fellow writers know if the day's tip or writing exercise resonates with you and your project. Grab your writing pals and send them over, too!

Read this first.

So you want to be a writer? Or maybe you’re already a writer, but can’t seem to get that novel written? Or you’ve written a few books, but the thrill is gone. Is there a trick, you wonder, to writing a great book, or even finishing a so-so book? Why, yes—there are three tricks, actually, that veteran writers like me keep top secret (shhhh!):

  1. Get started already.
  2. Clunk through it.
  3. Find ways not to stop until you get to The End.

The list probably isn’t the romantic, idealistic answer you were hoping for, but I wrote this book to share with you helpful, practical writing advice from my twenty years as a working novelist. If you commit to reading the 365 pieces of advice that follow and (here’s the important part) write one manuscript page every day for 365 days, then voila! at the end of one year, you’ll have a full-length fiction manuscript of about 90,000 words.

I wrote this book with the idea of dispensing daily inspiration to get you to think about your story—and to write. Because I know from experience your motivation will give out before your imagination will.

This book is structured to ease you through the lifecycle of creating a full-length novel, from broad stroke advice and self-evaluating questions, to more specific tips when you get to the planning and writing stages. I’ve also included pitfalls to avoid, lessons I’ve learned and techniques to help you manage your writing time.

Can you read ahead? Sure. Skip around? Yes. Ignore one piece of advice in favor of another? Absolutely. Some of the tips will feel organic to you and your project, and some won’t. You might even decide to read the entire book in one sitting—that’s fine. But if you do, please commit to re-reading the book and writing one manuscript page for every section. Because I’d like for you to prove to yourself you can write a novel. Or finish the one you started. Or meet your deadline. Or rediscover the joy in writing. Or reach whatever writing goal you’ve set for yourself.

I see you out there, already putting on the brakes, raising your hand, bursting with questions.

“But what am I supposed to write about?”
“What does a manuscript page look like?”
“How do I get started?”
“What kind of equipment do I need?”
“What if I’m stuck?”
“What if I fail?”

Luckily for you, I have the answers to your burning questions:

--Write about anything, as long as it’s not boring.
--A manuscript page looks like a page in a book, but with more whitespace.
--To get started writing, pick up a pen, or place your hands on a keyboard.
--The equipment you need to write is A) a quill and ink, or B) pen and paper, or C) a computer. (I vote “C.”)
--If you’re stuck in your story, then something is wrong with your plot or your characters; figure it out (I’ll help you) and keep going.
--You will fail, absolutely, at some point. But hopefully you’ll regroup and try again!

In other words, don’t go making this writing thing harder than it has to be. Writers do that—we obsess, fret, wring our hands, drum our fingers, stare at the ceiling, sigh, delay, postpone, procrastinate, create our own obstacles, and quit before we even start, as if writing a novel is a life or death proposition. It isn’t. In the scheme of things, there are much more important events going on in the world, so get over yourself a little. With some perspective, you can bring the mentally monumental task of writing a novel back down to a manageable size. After all, reading and writing aren’t exactly basic human needs. And unless the book you write is a survivalist guide or medical how-to, it’s probably not going to save someone’s life....

But it might save someone’s soul. Or make them laugh. Or prompt them to read into the wee hours of the morning to find out who committed the crime, got the girl, or saved the world.

If you like guarantees, writing isn’t for you. That said, if you write a novel and put it out into the universe, I guarantee you will:

  • Learn a lot about yourself along the way. (Are you funny? Mean? Truthful? Brave?)
  • Be fulfilled in a way only other writers can comprehend. (It’s intoxicating.)
  • Change the world some. (Something that wasn’t there before, suddenly will be.)

And that’s cool. Ready? Let’s do this. ~

 This daily serial will run through December 31.  Each day's writing tip or exercise will be posted for 24 hours, 4am Eastern to 4am Eastern.  Set a reminder on your calendar, fridge, or phone so you don't miss a single day of advice to get your novel finished!
(For general writing advice and to find out how I sold my first book, check out my For Writers page.)


19. There is no such thing as an original idea

Now that you’re busily storing away ideas for your novel like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, I’m going to touch on a subject that almost always comes up among writers:  How can I keep someone from stealing my idea?

The short answer is, you can’t—ideas aren’t copyrightable. But the long answer is even if you learn someone is writing a story similar to the one you’re working on, you shouldn’t assume they stole it from you, nor should you abandon the idea. The truth is, sometimes ideas are simply “in the air” and two or more writers have the same idea at the same time. Maybe something in the news or a popular song sparks a similar idea. Or maybe a cultural trend or a catchy phrase triggers a concept. There really is no such thing as an original idea anyway—all the basic plots have been done thousands of times. But the spin you put on an old plot is what makes it fresh and original.

Early in my career I wrote a book titled Our Husband about three women who discover they’re all married to the same man. The same month my book was released, a historical romance author released a book about three women who travel to the West to find the man they learn they’re all married to. I knew of the author, but we weren’t acquaintances. Still, I remember lots of reviewers accusing me of stealing her idea, or vice versa. Which is ridiculous when you consider how long it takes to get a book in and out of the publishing pipeline. It was simply a matter of synchronicity.

Q:  What would YOU do/say if someone told you they were working on a story and it sounds similar to yours?  Share with other writers on Facebook.

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