This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
1. Join a class. I know there’s a lot of cynicism about whether a class can turn you into a novelist, but I believe it can help a lot. You get theory, discipline, feedback, networking, industry knowledge and encouragement. My studies at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia, were fundamental to being able to write and publish a novel: without them neither would have happened.
2. Write a plan. I know, there are writers who write by the seat of their pants, making it up as they go (and some who say they do, because it’s sexier). If that’s working for you, ignore me. If it’s not, write a plan before you go looking for magic solutions to your lack of creativity. The great thing about a plan is that you’ve knocked over a big part of the job, and can proceed with confidence, with your energies directed to telling the story well.
3. Consider getting help with story. Screenwriters frequently treat “breaking story” as a collaborative process, though writing the draft is usually given to one person. And don’t discount story. Story matters a lot if you want to sell books. And publishers like books that sell.4. Write for publication. I think short stories are a great exercise and an opportunity to try something different without devoting a year of your life to it. I strongly suggest you try to get them published – it will push you to make them as good as they can be. You’ll also get feedback (even if it’s just a rejection) and kudos if you’re published. Having something published is an immediate credential when you start trying to find a publisher or an agent.
5. Good writing is rewriting. You’ve heard this before, but it’s so important. I’d add ‘You can always make it better’ – a crucial lesson from design theory. The first draft is a starting point, not an end point. When you’ve made it as good as it can be, put it aside for a few weeks, then come back. Surprise! It’s not as good as you thought it was. Now apply your creative powers to that draft rather than a blank sheet.
Graeme Simsion's debut novel, The Rosie Project, is out now.