Writing a novel, or even a short story, can be daunting.
“I’ll never finish.”
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m not a good writer.”
Everyone who writes fiction feels this way at times. Here are some habits I’ve picked up along the way to keep me from feeling overwhelmed:
- I email a scene idea to myself. A great scene idea pops into my head. When I’m at work or somewhere I can’t write at that moment, I’ll compose a one sentence summary of the idea and send an email to myself on my phone. Then, later, I’ll add it to my list of scenes. No more, “Wait, what was that idea I thought of during that meeting?”
- I keep a running list of potential scenes. Speaking of scenes, I keep a running list of ideas for them. Not every scene that pops into my brain fits into my WIP. But I’m surprised how that idea may come in handy later. Or I could use it for a totally new story. Or it may never be used. But a running list of potential scenes can help with writer’s block.
- I write 500 words a day. Okay, sometimes more, but if you’re like me, I feel like I need to write my entire novel in one day. Then I feel like a gorilla is sitting on me. Solution? Just write 500 words a day. That’s more realistic. More doable. And it adds up to 3,500 words a week, or 14,000 words a month, or 182, 500 words a year. That’s two novels right there!
- I save manuscript in different places. I’ve lost scenes. I’ve lost entire manuscripts. So, at the end of a writing session, I save my work on my computer AND on an external hard drive. If that’s not a habit you’ve established, you should. I use Scrivener writing software and it automatically does this for me.
- I use “XXX” when I can’t think of a detail. I’ll be writing along and I’ve got good momentum. Then I can’t think of a minor character’s name. Or one character may want to tell an appropriate anecdote to prove her point. Or I need a whole paragraph describing a room, but I want to finish the scene. If I want to just get the rough draft down, but need a detail, I’ll just type “XXX”. Then I’ll come back later, during the editing and revising stage and search for “XXX”. I can relax, knowing I have a complete scene written down, and find the perfect details.
What are some writing habits you use to keep you sane? Meanwhile, here are some articles I’ve read lately on the writing craft. I hope you find them helpful.
- Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words
- Five Things to Do Before Writing Your First Book
- The New Writer’s Guide to Revising Fiction
- 6 Crucial Character Relationships
- 3 Important Line Edits to Make Your Writing Shine