Succeed in your Resolution to Write a Novel This Year

If your resolution for the coming year is to finally finish that novel, here are some tips to help you successfully achieve that goal.

1. Find a writing platform you like, and stick with it.

Not every writing tool works for everyone. Having tried dozens of software applications from novel-specific tools like Scrivener and The Novel Factory to distraction-eliminating tools like Ulysses and OmmWriter, I have happily settled into writing with Google Docs, which is where I started writing in the first place. I could have gotten a lot more done, and saved some cash by just sticking to what was working for me.

Don't feel that you need to use a tool just because your favourite writer uses it. George R.R. Martin uses Wordstar, and you'd have to dig into a museum to find a computer that will run that archaic piece of software. Clearly, it works for him, but you need to find something that works for you. Flitting from program to program will only keep you from the actual task of writing.

2. Read daily.

Make a point to spend time reading every day. Read a few chapters of a book in your genre, and take some additional time to read an article about the craft of writing. The first will help you mark your own writing against similar works by already published writers; the second will keep you mindful of the sorts of things you should be minding while writing.

Don't over-do the writing and publishing advice. Too many writers fall into the trap of over-researching before they start writing. You don't need to read every book on writing before you become a good writer. It is pointless to have a list of every publisher you will submit your novel to before you manuscript has progressed beyond the fifth chapter. Focus on writing first and foremost.

3. Make an attainable daily word count goal and hold yourself to it.

Many people start the year off planning to write a novel. They fail primarily because they just don't get the words down. Set a goal of 1000 words per day. Or 800 words per day, or whatever seems attainable, and hit that goal every single day.

Don't make excuses. It's easy to skip a day, and in reality there's not too much danger in missing one day, but once you've missed one day of writing, it's easier to skip the next, and the day after that. The simple way to solve that problem is to never, ever skip a day. Not for your birthday, not for your anniversary, not for anything you can control.

4. Take a break from social media.

Turn your phone off or set it to silent. Determine not to sign in to your favourite platform until you've hit your word count for the day. Once you have accomplished your daily goal, however, feel free to post it on your timeline and brag about your progress. It might make you more accountable in the days to come.

5. Learn to work past roadblocks.

Every writer hits a point in their manuscript where the dialogue just isn't flowing, or the action doesn't seem to get from point A to point B in a logical fashion. Instead of stopping there until you can find the right words, write down a brief note to yourself about what's supposed to happen in that chapter, and just continue on at a place after that scene or chapter.

Your novel should be read sequentially, but there's no rule that says you have to write it that way. Start in the middle; stop when you have to and pick up somewhere else. Do whatever you need to do to keep writing.

Best of luck with your writing goals in 2018!

Wendy J. Woudstra

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