My top five novel writing tips
Updated: Feb 21
Writing a novel can be tough, but over the years, through trial and error, I've developed some habits that I feel make the process a bit easier. Here are my top five tips!
Be wary of cafés
We’re all familiar with romanticized Instagram snaps of people writing in cafes with steaming mugs of coffee by their laptops and artfully messy buns. But let’s face it, the reality is more likely to involve trying to block out the cries of manic toddlers slurping babyccinos while a barista glares at you for having only bought one coffee over the last two hours, and tearing that artfully messy hair out.
I used to try to write in cafes, but I found that most of the time, I couldn’t focus enough to get much done. Although writing at home can be boring and a bit lonely, I find it so much more effective. Sometimes I get stir-crazy and end up venturing to a café, but I tend do this occasionally, rather than it being the norm.
Have a rewards system
When I wrote Perfect Match, I planned some rewards for myself based on meeting my writing goals. So, if I wrote 10,000 words, I’d go for a nice dinner with a friend. Once I hit 20,000, I’d treat myself to a new handbag. Once I got to 30,000, I’d go for a spa day, etc. This rewards system gave me something to work towards and made me enjoy the reward so much more because I felt like I’d earned it.
Share your targets with others
Sometimes, if I have a big writing goal, I’ll post a story on Instagram about it. My most recent one was a story I posted on a Friday night in which I said I’d write 12,000 words over the next three days! I find that announcing my goal to others (even if they’re just strangers and maybe not even that interested!) makes me stick to the goal more. There’s a certain satisfaction in posting another story to say you met your goal. Also, I like seeing other writers posting updates about their writing targets and progress as I find a certain sense of solidarity and inspiration in seeing other people working hard.
Read your work out loud
I write in a very conversational style and I find that reading my work out loud really helps me spot sentences that don’t flow well – those that are slow, clunky, typo-ridden or convoluted. Sometimes your eyes can skim over these kinds of issues, but when you’re reading out loud suddenly they become apparent.
Relax your mind
When I get stuck on a plot issue, I often find the solution will come to me if I do something unrelated to writing but also mentally non-taxing. For example, I often get ideas when I’m walking my dog or cleaning my flat. I was really stuck at one point with Perfect Match and had a plot epiphany while cleaning the oven!
This post was originally published as a guest post on Hayley Reviews