Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, would you? To be honest, this is something I would probably do, but I’d injure myself and collapse at the side of the road and whine about it for weeks afterwards.
When it comes to writing, a daily training session is invaluable. Even if you sit down to write a novel in a month with NANOWRIMO, daily writing throughout the year will help keep your brain limber. You’ll find it becomes easier to recall a wider range of vocabulary, you’ll start to see habits and repetition in your work, and you’ll push yourself to explore new ideas. Your daily writing session doesn’t even have to be long — ten minutes, every day, can help.
Pick up a journal or a notebook, or write on scraps of paper and bundle them together into a shoe box — whatever makes the most sense to you. I’ll talk a little more about journals in the coming weeks, but for now, it’s important to get started and begin building your daily writing as a habit. If you find it hard to write daily, I suggest that you choose a specific time each day to write and, if possible, choose a specific place, too. It won’t take long for your brain to fall into the habit if you give it the same stimuli.
You don’t have to write anything profound. If you can’t think of anything to write about, you can fill the pages with gibberish. Or, if you need a few prompts, try these:
- what was your favourite book as a child, and why?
- who was the most important person to ever live, in your opinion? Why?
- if you lived in an underwater colony, what would your day look like?
- if you have a monster living under your bed, what does it look like? Why is it there?
Again, as you’re trying to establish the habit, the act of writing is more important than what you write. For ten minutes, give yourself the freedom to write whatever you want, as badly as you want, and play with language with joyful abandon. Worried that someone might read it? Take comfort in knowing that, when you’re done, you can set your page on fire.
So. Sit down, get comfortable, and just begin. No judgement, no pressure. Be silly and free to play for ten minutes with only you, your thoughts, and the page… First, we write!