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How to stick to writing a novel

This is a problem that most writers will encounter at some point in the process of writing their novel. Anyone who’s started a novel knows that you start off great and, as time goes by, you get distracted by other things, get writer’s block or just become a bit disinterested with it. But don’t worry, you are in good company! Research suggests that only three percent of those who start a novel will actually finish it. So, how do you stop yourself becoming part of that statistic?

Tips to help you stick to writing your novel

Follow these seven tips and hopefully you’ll be able to stick with it until the end.

Tip One – Set a deadline.

Even if you have not been given one, pretend that you have. Imagine that an editor or publisher is waiting for your work with baited breath. Set a date and aim to finish your novel by that time.

Tip Two – Make a plan

To help you achieve Tip One you’ll need to plan. Planning your novel is an essential step to getting it started and keeping it going. It’ll allow you to write without having to stop and think about what’s coming next. You’ll know who your characters are, what they are doing, how they look, speak and so on. If you don’t know how to do this see How to Plan a Novel

Tip Three – Choose your reviewers carefully

When you are excited about your writing, it’s easy to be tempted to show it to anyone and everyone who wants to read it (and some who don’t)! However, this can be a mistake. Make sure the people you show it to will give you impartial, accurate advice. Often family members and friends will tell you what you want to hear – for fear of hurting your feelings – so it’s best not to show them, unless they are professional writers and editors of course.

Tip Four – Set goals Time management theory tells us that setting goals is an effective motivational tool. So, why not try setting yourself a goal each day? This could be a time frame, i.e. two hours per day, or a word count per day, such as 2000 words per day. It’s often a good idea to get a calendar that you can use to mark off the day’s goal once it is achieved.

Tip Five – Don’t leave huge gaps between writing sessions When you set your goals, try to make sure that you don’t leave long periods without writing. You need to immerse yourself in the world of your novel on a frequent basis so that you don’t forget where you are up to in the storyline. A plan can help prevent this from happening, but if you leave it too long between sessions, you’ll still need to re-read your writing before continuing.

Tip Six – Don’t be a perfectionist Well, at least not when you are writing your first draft – just get it all down. In any case, it’s never going to be perfect on the first attempt. Writers can go through several drafts before being completely happy with their work and the subsequent drafts will offer plenty of time for you to correct mistakes.

Tip Seven – Remove all distractions Once you’ve decided when and for how long you are going to write, it’s time to make a space that’s as free from distractions as possible. Turn off your mobile phone, don’t have your email or facebook pages open and, unless they help you concentrate, switch off the TV and radio. Try to ensure the room is warm and comfortable and you have a desk and chair to use.

Remember, as a novice writer, it is important for you to have the completed novel ready before you start contacting publishers. If they are interested in your idea, they’ll want to see the whole novel straight away so make sure you have it ready to send.

If you fancy having a go at writing a novel we have a course that can help. Our Novel and Short Story Writing course contains all the help you’ll need to take you from the very first stages of researching and planning your novel to sending it off to publishers. And, with our free trial period you have nothing to lose, so request a copy of the prospectus now.


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Lizbeth Crawford"My debut novel, Hate To Love You, by Elise Alden (my pen name for contemporary and historical romance), received three offers of publication. I went with Harlequin Carina Press.

"So, thank you Writers Bureau, to which I am extremely grateful. The Novel and Short Story course gave me the tools I needed to write my first novel."

Lizbeth Crawford


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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