Novel Ideas: #1 “Start Writing”

Those first words are critical, aren’t they? (Hell, I tried and tossed a dozen different sentences to start this post!}

Writing is a JourneyThe writing is easy enough. Describe a character. Outline the plot. Picture a setting with vivid details. Blow up a building.

Simple, huh?

There’s a difference, though, between driving around the neighborhood admiring the scenery — and setting out upon a Journey.

Have you ever taken one of those great drives? The kind where you lock up the house, pack a change of clothes, grab your Visa card or some cash, and GO.

North? Southwest? Down East? Doesn’t matter: It’s a Journey, capital J. Destination indefinite. Here’s your car, there’s a road, and everything else is “out there.” My mom loved those kinds of drives. Head out Saturday and come home Sunday.

Starting a novel is a lot like that, only scarier, mostly because of the distance.

How many novels have you started, but never finished? (“I refuse to answer on the grounds…”)

“I’ll write about 8 pages a day. That should do it.”

Want to know a secret?

Any successful novelist will tell you: “Set smaller goals.

Here’s what my mom used to say: “Let’s find a nice diner for breakfast.” A small goal for the start of an all-day trip to … hmm, where? Well, to lunch after that, of course! “Keep going west. No, not on the Thruway, silly. Take the back roads.” Dinner and a motel would eventually follow.

Man, I loved those trips. Still do; still take ’em, even though Mom’s been gone for more than fifteen years.

Want to churn out a 100,000-word novel? Start small, with a sense of adventure.

“I’ll finish Page One, and live with it until I finish Chapter One.” And so on.

The late, great author Robert B. Parker (1932-2010: the Spenser for Hire series and much more), started out each workday with a goal. It was a simple goal: 6, 7, or 8 pages — depending. Never less than 6, nor more than 8. Once he’d met that goal, he was free to go back and edit/revise/slash/proofread, or mow the lawn. Whatever.

Parker wrote SEVENTY novels, no less than four series, spawned television shows and movies, and created a legacy so powerful that his work continues today under license by writers Brandman and Coleman.

“I’ll write about 8 pages a day. That should do it.” Yes, indeed.

Start writing. Set smaller goals.

And let The Journey begin. (And if your mom is still alive, give her a hug while you still can, okay?)

questionDo you have advice for getting started? This is the first in a series. I’d love to hear from you on this and related Novel Ideas.  Share your ideas in Comments, just below.

[Note: This post contains Affiliate Links (green). If you click them and buy something, I might get paid. If you’d rather I didn’t earn a dollar or two, please use your favorite search engine instead. ~Jim]


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