Earlier this week, I shared 10 reasons why you should buy my book. Sometimes people are surprised that I, at 23, have written and published a book. Once they hear that I self-published it, they have a million questions, which led to my Self-Publishing Sunday series. But before I could get to that point, I had to write the book in the first place. So, how did I write a novel my senior year of high school while taking 4 AP classes and participating in 4 after-school activities?
How I Wrote a Book in 7 Easy Steps
1. I outlined the heck out of it. Seriously – it was crazy detailed. But that meant that I knew where I was going with every scene and chapter.
2. I made goals for myself for every day. And if I didn’t reach my word count, I had to catch up with it. I started out writing within National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), which meant that I was trying to write 50,000 words within 30 days. My goal was 1,666 words a day, and even when I was writing outside of NaNoWriMo, I stuck to that goal. Didn’t make it one day? I added whatever was left over to the next day or week.
3. I wrote whenever I had spare time. And I mean whenever. During band rehearsal and the conductor was working with a different section? I wrote on the back of old sheet music we didn’t have to turn back in. Have some downtime during class? Took out my notebook and wrote. This also really helped with meeting my word count while I was busy.
4. When I hit writer’s block, I took a break. NaNoWriMo is November of every year, and around the week of Thanksgiving I hit writer’s block. Not I-don’t-feel-perfectly-inspired writer’s block – we’re talking I-have-no-idea-what-to-write writer’s block. I had been writing hard core for 3 weeks and was at over 30,000 words, so I took a break.
5. But that break didn’t last forever. A few months later, I pulled my material out again, read through it all, and started writing again. Taking the time to refresh my brain really made a difference, but the bigger difference was made by going back a few months later, and not years later. I think the ideal break would be 3-6 weeks.
6. I changed the outline as I wrote. Yes, everything was super outlined, but if things changed in my mind, didn’t make sense, or needed to be restructured, I went with it. I stuck by the outline while letting my creative juices flow and adjusted as needed.
7. I had others read it and give me their feedback. Once I finished the first draft, I started printing it out 50 pages at a time for a friend of mine to read. I really valued her opinion on the plot, and I wanted to hear from someone I trusted. And I started doing this as soon as I finished the first draft. Yes, I wanted to take a break, but I didn’t write Aureole for the sake of writing it – I wanted to publish, which meant that I needed to get honest feedback.