Advice on Novel Writing

Ob_1"Different writers face different advantages and drawbacks in forming
good writing habits. The circumstances of your personal life may make
it easy or hard to find writing time, but time itself is not the real
issue–it’s habit.  Writing must be something you do regularly, like
brushing your teeth. The writer who waits for inspiration will wait
even longer for a complete, published novel.

Writing habits flourish best in routine, but the efficient writer also
exploits opportunity.

Routine: Set aside some time every day when you can work undisturbed
for an hour or two–first thing in the morning, during lunch, after
dinner, whenever you can set aside other demands. Ideally, it’s the
same time of day. Your family and friends will soon build their
routines around yours. With luck, they will resent your unscheduled
appearances during your writing time, and will send you packing back
to your desk.

Keep your writing equipment (paper, pens, software manuals, etc.) in
your writing place, close at hand. Minimize distractions like
interesting new magazines and books. Try to find a writing time when
few people phone or visit. If a cup of coffee and some background
music make you feel less lonely, by all means enjoy them.

Use household chores as thinking time: a chance to review what you’ve
done so far and to consider where your writing should go next. Walking
the dog or vacuuming the carpet can provide more ideas than you
expect. This is really just “controlled daydreaming,” letting your
mind freewheel in a particular direction: What the heroine should do
in the next chapter, how the hero would respond to escaping a car
bomb, how the villain developed his evil character.  But the process
doesn’t seem to work if you just sit and stare at the wall.  You need
to be up and moving in some automatic pattern."

Developing Efficient Work Habits
from "Advice on Novel Writing" by Crawford Kilian

Image: nyla

2 thoughts on “Advice on Novel Writing

  1. This is a common theme and bit of advice from many writers including Heinlein, Stephen King, and Orson Scott Card. Like many, if not all, things in life, routine is a key to success. Physical exercise, work performance, diet, bonding with friends and family, even entertainment; routine is the key to succeeding in these things.

    Of course, it is easy for me to write that and very hard for me to do it. Another key is to quit reading about how to improve one’s life and simply improve it.

  2. I find myself putting everyone else first and my writing last. Thank you for the advice of a routine. staying up at night and writing in the bathroom is taking its tole, not to mention my family thinks I am very ill at this point.


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