So, you've sat down to write the great American novel. Is that cursor blinking at you like the end of a "Doogie Howser M.D." episode? Here are some novel writing tips to get you past that first word.
Novel Writing Tips
1. Don't Think, Just Write
I hear a lot of wonderful about outlining and I've even been known to try one out every so often. Most people who are writing their first novel have a pretty good idea what they want to write about, they're just too scared or full of thoughts to make progress. Keep those emotions at bay by writing as quickly as you can. Try to get a first draft down by a certain deadline in the near future. Don't stop yourself if you don't like where it's going, you can always re-write it when the first draft is complete.
2. Get Into a Routine
I'm one of the many individuals who has gotten over halfway through writing a novel only to lose steam and never finish it. No matter how excited you are when starting a novel, life will intervene and throw some obstacles at you. This is why you typically can't write a novel on will power alone. To avoid hiccups like an unexpected trip or an injury to derail your writing, get into a writing routine. Force yourself to write during a certain window of your day no matter what. If you can get past the first 30 days, you are likely home free and you'll be able to keep it up even when the unexpected happens.
3. Go with your Instincts
Of all my novel writing tips, this is the one I've gotten the most mileage out of. When you are determining how a character will get from point A to point B, you may get tripped up by logistics of plot. Remember what your teacher always said about multiple choice tests? Your first answer, your instinct, is probably right. Instead of coming up with 20 different ideas to move your characters along, pick one and run with it. It may not be perfect, but it's better to edit a complete novel with a few flaws then it is to finish a novel in the first place.
4. Celebrate Milestones
As former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch was moving up the management ranks and he made sure that the divisions he ran would celebrate even the smallest of achievements. I have decided to include this practice in my novel writing. When you finish a particularly tough chapter, reward yourself with a healthy walk around the block. As you hit the home stretch, celebrate with a frozen yogurt. By rewarding your own achievement, you train yourself to keep writing (to keep getting more rewards, the brain is funny that way).
5. Keep Positive
When the going gets tough, the tough keep positive. If you make it a certainty in your mind that you will complete your novel no matter what, it is very likely to happen. Stay optimistic about that outcome and you'll have your novel ready for publication in no time.
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.