Dont Give Up On Writing That Novel

Think it's hard to​ get a​ novel published? For most writers,​ it​ is​ - but it's certainly not impossible. I've had two hit the​ shelves-in 10 countries,​ and with book club and movie rights picked up. People often ask me how I did it,​ and the​ truth is​ simple. All it​ takes is,​ 1) talent,​ and 2) actually writing the​ thing.

As much as​ I hate to​ admit it,​ the​ second is​ the​ more important factor.

Fact is,​ plenty of​ great novels go unfinished. the​ statistics are staggering: of​ those who start writing a​ novel,​ only about 3% will finish. And unless you're the​ child of​ a​ rock star or​ Shakespeare's long-lost descendent,​ no agent or​ publisher will look at​ your novel unless it's complete. Only in​ rare instances will a​ publisher make an​ offer to​ a​ newbie novelist based on​ a​ partial manuscript.

On my first novel,​ Flip-Flopped,​ I actually did have interest from an​ editor at​ a​ major publishing house before I was finished. I'd been taking a​ writing class,​ and the​ teacher passed along a​ short description of​ my book to​ an​ editor acquaintance of​ hers,​ who professed interest. I'd written about 100 pages at​ the​ time and was elated - that is,​ until my teacher added,​ "Of course,​ she doesn't want to​ see it​ until it's done."

It may seem unfair. if​ your novel starts with a​ bang,​ why can't you just give a​ few chapters and an​ outline? Surely that's enough to​ prove your mettle. But publishers want evidence of​ more than writing skills. They need to​ see you can go the​ distance. in​ the​ world of​ writing,​ a​ novel is​ the​ marathon. a​ finished manuscript is​ the​ only way to​ show you can cross the​ finish line in​ the​ same sort of​ shape you started.

It took me two years to​ write my first novel. Even with an​ editor waiting - and knowing she wouldn't wait forever - I nearly gave up many times along the​ way. a​ single mom with a​ full-time job,​ my only writing time was in​ the​ early hours before work and during my son's naptime on​ weekends. I not only had to​ learn novel basics like how to​ plot and create strong characters,​ I had to​ learn how to​ stick with it.

If you're struggling with finishing your novel,​ these tips may help:

1. Tell yourself a​ little white lie: that you have a​ real deadline. One of​ the​ main reasons writers give up is​ because they begin to​ question whether anyone really cares. Pretend there's an​ editor or​ agent waiting,​ drumming his or​ her fingers,​ eager for that completed manuscript to​ arrive.

2. Set a​ daily goal. I set a​ minimum of​ two hours a​ day,​ every day. You may prefer to​ designate a​ certain number of​ pages,​ such as​ three to​ five. Writing is​ a​ lot like dieting: people who approach it​ reasonably on​ a​ daily basis are more likely to​ meet with success than those who try a​ crash program.

3. Don't write a​ novel - write a​ first draft. a​ first draft can be imperfect - and in​ fact,​ it​ will be. That's okay. Just get the​ pages down. You can fix it​ on​ the​ second draft.

4. Be careful whom you show it​ to. it​ can be helpful to​ get feedback as​ you go,​ but choose your readers carefully. Giving your precious pages to​ someone who is​ frustrated at​ their own inability to​ write a​ novel is​ like handing them a​ gun ... pointed right at​ you.

5. Spend more time writing than you spend planning. it​ can be helpful to​ have an​ outline and some basic research,​ but typically writers who mire themselves in​ creating lengthy drafts of​ what they're going to​ write rarely get around to​ actually writing.

6. Feel the​ joy. Remind yourself why you're writing a​ novel. Few people if​ any set out to​ write a​ first novel because they have to. They do it​ because they have something to​ say...a passion for the​ written word...a dream of​ seeing their name on​ a​ shelf next to​ writers they admire. Hard work may be the​ backbone of​ a​ writing career,​ but it's the​ joy of​ creating something amazing that keeps us going.

So keep going!

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