If You Don't Have These 7 Qualities You Probably Shouldn't Be Writing A Novel

Do you ever wonder why you're writing your book? Does it seem more of a chore than anything else? Sometimes, we fall in love with the idea of being a writer, rather than loving the writing itself. Over the years, I've watched people who write, and finish, their (many) novels and they seem to share these qualities.

7 Qualities You Need To Become A Novelist
  1. You have to have a passion for stories. This is more than having a passion for books. You need to love the sound and shape of words and the way they can be used to intoxicate, persuade, and change people. You have moments when you're reading and you stop because a sentence is so exquisite it takes your breath away. Your mind is probably never quiet, filled as it is with all the situations you could turn into stories.
  2. You need to create. Fiction writing is not about you. You need to have something to tell that it is not autobiographical. You should be writing a memoir if that is the case. To become a writer of fiction, you should have a fantastical story populated with unique characters that keeps you up at night - a story that makes you daydream and believe that you could actually become a novelist. You should love the idea of creating something that was not there before. 
  3. You need your imaginary friends. You probably have an inner voice that narrates the life you experience around you. You will find yourself wondering what your protagonist would think about somebody you've just met or somewhere you've been. You constantly think about all the 'what ifs' you could throw her way. You shop with these characters, create worlds for them, and live through joy and tragedy with them.
  4. You cannot be afraid of a blank canvas. This can be terrifying if you prefer to have more structure in your life. Even if you have planned and plotted your novel, you have to take a leap of faith and do it. You will spend long periods alone without anybody who can help you. The book will not write itself. [Suggested Reading: So You Want To Be A Writer?]
  5. You have to be comfortable with your voice. The only way to do this is by writing many, many words. A daily writing prompt is a must for writers who want to become novelists. David Eddings says: 'My advice to the young writer is likely to be unpalatable in an age of instant successes and meteoric falls. I tell the neophyte: Write a million words–the absolute best you can write, then throw it all away and bravely turn your back on what you have written. At that point, you’re ready to begin.' If you write every day, you will develop a style that is uniquely yours so that you get on with telling the story instead of stumbling on the mechanics of the writing itself.
  6. You need to love the process. Yes, writing is difficult. It could even be the hardest thing you will ever do, but you need to love the act itself. Many authors say they write because they can't do anything else. Most authors say they write to find out what they think. Writing teaches you more about yourself and the world around you than you could ever imagine. [Suggested Reading: 10 Things Successful Authors Do]
  7. You have to do the time. The ability to work alone, setting deadlines, and reaching word counts is not for the fainthearted. This is where learning the craft of novel-writing can really help you, because it teaches you structure and discipline. Sue Grafton advises writers to slow down. She says, 'I don't know that people are spending the time and attention on learning how to write -- which takes years. Everybody sees the success stories. So instead of taking five years to learn how to write a decent sentence, they're writing a book proposal and asking who your editor and your agent are. So I find it a little infuriating that there is not more care given to the issue of being wonderful at writing.' If you can learn the rules, write the words, set a goal and reach it on a regular basis, you will probably be able to finish writing a novel. 
There are many more qualities you could and should have, but these seven seem to be an intrinsic part of a writer's make-up. Please add the qualities you think novelists should have in the comments section.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Amanda Patterson.  Follow her on  Facebook,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

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35 Items To Add To Every Writer's Wish List

Writers are the heroes of their own stories. They bravely struggle to get their words down on paper, battling their insecurities and avoiding distractions as they will themselves to get to 'The End' of the book.

I've put together a wish list for writers. Some of the items are funny and others are serious. I hope you enjoy it - and please add your wishes in the comments section below.

35 Items For A Writer's Wish List
  1. Time to write
  2. The ability to avoid procrastinating when you have the time to write
  3. Unlimited cups of good coffee (or tea)
  4. Chocolate
  5. Wine (if the chocolate and coffee are not working)
  6. Books
  7. Time to read those books
  8. The ability to accept criticism from professionals
  9. The wisdom to reject biased critiques from family and friends
  10. Books on writing
  11. Bookish gifts
  12. Inspiration from unlikely sources
  13. A space to write
  14. A writing desk (or a standing desk)
  15. Learning the rules of writing
  16. Breaking the rules of writing (now that you know what they are)
  17. Conversations with intelligent people
  18. Interviews with interesting people
  19. An invisibility cloak to avoid people who watch reality television shows
  20. Noise cancelling headphones
  21. Time to visit bookshops
  22. Time to daydream
  23. Perseverance
  24. Curiosity
  25. Courage
  26. Support from loved ones
  27. A creative writing course
  28. A writer's retreat
  29. Letting go of the fear of rejection
  30. Letting go of the fear of not being good enough
  31. The willpower to stop talking about writing… and write
  32. Finally finishing the story
  33. The ability to write a fabulous synopsis and jaw-dropping query letter
  34. An agent
  35. A publishing deal
I hope you get some of the items on this list (or your list). Happy writing. 

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

7 Things To Do When You Need Inspiration And It Just Won’t Come

Guest Post

Not having the inspiration to write is one of the most common problems most writers complain about. Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person in the traditional sense of the word, it’s very likely that you have creative capacities within the right context. The trick is finding what makes your creativity tick. 

Here are seven things to do when you need inspiration and it just won’t come.  

1.  Cook, Read, Paint, Or Learn Something New
Cooking is a great way to distract yourself, and it can help to put you in a positive mindset. Putting ingredients together requires inspiration, and following new recipes can help you to experiment in a creative and useful way. Other creative pursuits such as painting or writing give you an outlet to express yourself, which helps you to bring new ideas to the fore. Learn a new language. A 2012 study carried out at Mashad University in Iran showed that when monolingual and bilingual students were asked to carry out a set of tests for creative thinking, the bilingual student performed better on every task.
2.  Try Some Physical Activity
Get outside and get those legs moving! According to a study carried out by a team at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, when lab animals were exposed to environments that allowed them to exercise, their general well-being and cognitive functions increased. By 'enriching' the animals’ environment, their brain function was improved. Enrich your environment by making time to get outside once a day. Physical activity is directly linked to improving memory and thinking skills. You can try running, yoga, or trampolining if you need more ideas.
3.  Talk About It
Call a friend, or chat with a colleague if the issue is work-related. Conversations and group discussions on a topic get your creative thinking going. Input and ideas from others can inspire you because they can challenge or reaffirm your own ideas, or even make you look at the task from a totally new angle. Trying ideas out on someone else can also get you to really listen to what you’re asking them, perhaps leading to ideas and conclusions that you hadn’t seen before.
4.  Listen To Music Or Lectures
TED talks or Youtube can be a good way to find out more about a topic or to explore new concepts and ideas. Challenging yourself to find inspiration removes the passivity from waiting for inspiration to come. Listening to music raises cognitive activity and regulates your mood. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of listening to music for inspiration. Music can reduce stress and anxiety and improve memory, increasing the brain’s potential for finding inspiration.
5.  Set Limitations
A blank canvas is daunting. Setting yourself some goals or limitations can make a task seem more achievable. Cutting a project into sections allows you to focus on the nitty-gritty, and makes it easier to pluck ideas from thin air. Whether you measure your limitations in pages, time-spent, topics covered or setting out what you need to do in a plan, this technique is useful for almost all kinds of work and is necessary for most creative pursuits.
6.  Take A Break From The Task
Get up from your desk and make yourself coffee or tea, or pour a glass of water - whatever it is you need to gather your thoughts. Sitting in one space for hours on end agonising about being unable to find inspiration is probably the worst way to get inspired. Breaking up your working day with different projects allows you to review ideas with a fresh mind. Other tasks or projects may offer ideas that relate to whatever you’re stuck on. Making sure you put aside time to have a break, work-out, sleep, eat, rest, and socialise is important. It allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that you can work to your best capabilities.
7.  Don’t Overthink It
Now this is easier said than done, but it’s really important not to get obsessed in the search for inspiration. Stress and anxiety brought about by criticism from yourself or others can have a really damaging impact on your physical health, mental well-being, and ability to work creatively. There is no quick solution to being stuck, but keeping check on the voice inside your head is essential. Give yourself time, and be reasonable with your expectations.  

by Janet Miller. Janet is a former Fortune 100 executive, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of JenReviews.com. She writes extensively and has been featured on Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen.


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    7 Simple Ways To Generate New Ideas

    'Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.' ~Émile Chartier

    Do you struggle to come up with new ideas for blog posts or plot twists for your book? Ideas Alive has some useful tips for nurturing your creativity in this infographic.

    They include structured exercises (we recommend a daily prompt), collaborating with others, trying something different (recommended reading: 10 Ways To Get Out Of Writer's Rut), and keeping a diary (recommended reading: 7 Tips From Famous Writers On Getting Started). 

    Please share your creativity tips with us in the comments section.

    Source for infographic: Ideas Alive

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    Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 44: White Hot Writer – 7 Tricks To Write Faster

    Welcome to week 44 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

    Goal setting
    1. Explore some strategies for writing faster.
    Breaking it down

    Sometimes I set myself a challenge to see how many words I can write in an hour. On average, I can write about 1,000 – 1,200 words in an hour – less if I get distracted, and more if I’m really ‘in the zone’.

    Here is some insight that may help you get your word count up, especially if you’re doing NaNoWriMo or pushing to finish your novel.

    7 Tricks To Write Faster
    ① Take the plunge. Get into the writing as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever been swimming, you know that dipping your toe in the water just causes delay. Should I? Shouldn’t I? What if the water is too cold? But if you somersault in – no matter how clumsy, or graceless –it gets you over the shock. Get ahead of your fears. The trick? Write faster than your doubts.
    ② First things first. That being said, sometimes it is helpful to do a bit of planning. To settle, and focus, your mind on what you want to achieve in a scene or chapter. A quick outline, a few bullet points or a bubble chart – all go a long way to keeping you on track. Prioritise the important scenes, those crucial scenes you can’t skip or leave out.
    ③ Target practice. Before you start your writing session, set yourself a goal or target. Write it on the top of your page, or type it out on a new Word Doc. It helps to have something to aim for — especially if you’re in competition with your own pre-set ideas of what you can achieve. The idea is to keep calm, to follow your instinct, and to trust your story and your characters.
    ④ You’re out of order (and that’s fine).  We expect our first drafts to look like finished and beautifully published novels. This is crippling, yes, and also a waste of time. You don’t get build a jet from a paper aeroplane. Your sentences or paragraphs don’t have to be smart soldiers on parade, all in single file. They can be kids on a jungle gym, cookies of all shapes and sizes. They can even be mixed metaphors like this paragraph here. Just get down what’s in your head, in your imagination. If you get stuck on one paragraph or even a scene – change the swim lane. Jump ahead or back to another scene. Who’s the author here anyway?
    ⑤ Don’t stop for perfect — it takes too long! The idea is, as always, to keep the hand moving — to follow the story running on ahead of you. For example, say you want to describe a heroine’s hairstyle, don’t stop your writing to climb into your thesaurus – write the first thing that comes to mind. Latch on to an image, a spark. Her hair was streaked with colour like a melting fudge sundae. If nothing comes to mind, just write a nice, expensive hair cut – you can revise it later.
    ⑥ Seriously, don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Your manuscript will be checked at the end of the process. It doesn’t make sense to make sure every word is spelled correctly or about dangling participles – whatever those are – if there’s a possibility that you’re going to cut a lot of text in a subsequent draft. There are words I consistently spell wrong. I remind myself I’m a creative writer; not an English teacher.
    ⑦ Push harder just before the finish line. Just as a sprinter pushes with herculean force just before they cross the finish line, speed up as you get to the end of your writing session. That’s why it’s a good idea to set an alarm or stopwatch for your writing session — it makes you aware of time, and it makes you push yourself as you reach the end of that session. You’ll be amazed at how much you can write in those last two minutes.
    Timelock — 1 to 2 hours

    Set yourself a challenge to write as many words as you can in an hour or two.

    5 Quick Hacks
    1. Set yourself a timelock. Say, ‘I have an hour to write 500 words. Go.’ And when it’s done, stop. Take a break.
    2. Or set yourself a reward scale. Say, ‘If I finish this chapter, I’ll treat myself to an episode of Black Mirror.’
    3. Try positive psychology. Remind yourself of previous writing achievements, or write out a couple of affirmations before you start your writing session.
    4. If you don’t like a stopwatch method, try writing around your daily routines. Set yourself a word-count marker for your lunch hour, or for the full length of the dishwasher cycle, even while the kids are in the bath.

    5. Identify your most productive writing time. Notice when you have the most energy and the least distractions. Early mornings, late nights — find something that works for you
    Pin it, quote it, believe it:

    ‘The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.’ — Raymond Chandler 

    Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

     by Anthony Ehlers

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

    If you enjoyed this post, read:
    1. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 43: 3 Ways To Finish Your Draft Before The End Of The Year
    2. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 42: 12 Easy Ways To Find A Title For Your Novel
    3. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 41: 7 Questions You Need To Ask Of Your First Draft

    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    4 Remarkably Simple Tips To Help You Write Anywhere

    You know that scene in Love Actually where Jamie, Colin Firth’s character, goes on holiday and sits on an old jetty, under a wood gazebo and Aurelia, the beautiful housekeeper serves tea and sandwiches as he types away on an old typewriter filling page after page with words? That, I can tell you, is what writing is not. At least, not in the beginning.

    If you've read Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, you will remember that he wrote with a typewriter on his knees when he lived in a trailer. That is a more accurate account of writing. 

    Now, I’m not saying move to a trailer, but we tend to think the circumstances have to be ideal to be able to write. Well, they are rarely going to be ideal. We think we have to wait for the muse to infuse our hearts, minds, and fingers before we can write. We think we can only start once we have an idea. We couldn’t put a word to paper if it hasn’t been perfectly plotted and planned. And, as Louis L’Amour said, 'The water doesn’t flow if the faucet isn’t turned on.'

    We need to learn to write ‘on demand’. Anyone who has been paid to write will snigger now. When someone is waiting for an article you get it out. You don’t know how, but you make it work. You need to do the same with your writing. 

    I need to change gears when I start. I have to switch off the mommy, the writing teacher, the friend, the daughter, and the wife brain, and turn on the writer brain. I have to work hard to get out of those mind sets and my time is limited. I have to change gears quickly; I might grab 20 minutes here or jot down a few ideas in five minutes. Every day is different, but I've learnt to manage.

    Here are the four ways I get my writing done:
    1. I keep my tools handy. I charge my computer every night and I take it with me wherever I go. If I am a few minutes early when I pick up my kids or while I wait for an appointment, I can spend those minutes writing. I always have a pen and notebook with me. If I run out of battery or if I can’t take out my computer, I use a notebook. I also hoard pens and have been known to write on the back of till slips. I’ve learnt to do away with hallowed, expensive notebooks and fancy pens.
    2. I have learnt to write anywhere. I write in my office. I write in my bed. I write in my car. I write on holiday at small tables in rental flats. I write in my tent when we go camping. I have hidden in a toilet stall to get a piece of writing done. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. The waiters know me and indulge me with litres of lemon water and cappuccinos.
    3. Prompts save me every time. Nothing gets me writing faster than a prompt. I print out a list and keep it in my laptop bag. I write down the prompt of the day, set my timer on my phone and let rip. Once I have done that I can write anything.
    4. I set a daily word count. This is advice John Connolly gave us when we interviewed him. It seemed so obvious when he said it, but it has taken a load off. I always put myself under pressure to get as much writing done as possible. I never set a solid goal. I always want to do more. He said that we should choose a word count and stick to it. Once you have reached it, stop, close your computer and get on with your life. This has taken away the constant guilt of ‘I should be writing all the time’. 
    I hope this helps you to reach your writing goals. 

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    Have You Tried The Most Dangerous Writing App?

    How desperate are you to write every day? If you write your best under pressure, Manuel Ebert wrote an app to help you. It's called The Most Dangerous Writing App and it's free to use.  

    You can choose to write for five, 10, 20, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. The catch? Your writing is erased - forever - if you stop for more than five seconds. A notification will appear telling you that you have failed.

    In a Wired article, Margaret Rhodes writes: 'The app doesn’t care what technique you use, provided you keep typing. If you stop, even for a second, the edges of the screen become tinged with red. The longer you go without typing, the redder the edges become, until, after five seconds of inactivity, your progress is unceremoniously erased.' 

    Try it if you're feeling brave. Click on the app below and it will take you to the site, but remember: Don't Stop Typing!

    If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join our blogging and social media course. If you want to learn how to write a book, send an email to  news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

    If you enjoyed thisyou will like:

    1. The 9 Best Apps And Tools To Help Writers Boost Productivity
    2. 30 Ultimately Effective Social Media Tools For Writers
    3. The Top 7 iPad and iPhone Apps for Booklovers
    4. The 5 Best Online Tools to Help You Outline Your Novel
    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 34: Spring Cleaning

    Welcome to week 34 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

    Goal setting
    1. Take care of you, the writer.
    Breaking it down

    Find your inspiration (again!)
    This week’s post has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with the writer. If you take care of the writer, I believe, the writing will take care of itself.

    Writers, contrary to common belief, are not immune to the realities of life. We don’t recline on a chaise lounge all day popping bon-bons and dictating our prose to our secretaries – that only works if you’re Barbara Cartland. And Barbara Cartland was as much as a myth as she was a bestselling romance writer.

    Last week, at a writer’s dinner, someone was talking about inspiration. I’m probably going to get some of it wrong, but this was the gist of it.

    In Michelangelo’s days, inspiration was seen as something that came from the gods above to an artist – it was an expression of something outside of the artist. In the Renaissance, inspiration was seen as something that came from inside – it was more about self-expression.

    I think both are interesting angles on the mysterious process of writing. The truth is, writing is pretty mysterious – we don’t always know where our ideas come from or why we write.

    What I believe is that a seed of talent – a tiny, fragile seed, I believe – is given to us as a gift. We need to look after it and not abuse it. The rest is, I think, just hard work. It’s craft.
    Seven days
    With spring approaching here in the southern hemisphere, I thought it would be a great opportunity for a spring clean. A ‘seven-day detox’ if you like.

    This is where my journal or diary can help. It’s time to do a ‘brain dump’ or even a ‘soul dump’. Write down all the negative things – fears, anger, all of it.  What kept you awake the night before? What worries you about the future?

    Then, when you’ve done that, write out all the good things that have happened to you – in your life, this year, this last week  Just free write – fill up as many pages as you can.

    Finally, finish with a list of affirmations. Write down your top five strengths as a writer and as a person.  You could even do these on index cards or on bright coloured paper. Sometimes there are great inspirational quotes on Twitter and Facebook. Print these and put them up at your desk.

    Enemy in the mirror
    In Writers Write, we often ask delegates to dismiss their inner critic. For me, I always thought this was the old crone of a high school French teacher who told me I was ‘lackadaisical’ – a good word, I’ll give her that, and probably true of me a lot of the time even today. Other times I thought this critic was some spiny covered monster with bloodied teeth.

    The other day I woke up and realised that my oldest and most persistent critic is me.  We don’t always see our ‘blind spot’ and, even when we do, we don’t do anything about it.

    Even this year, when I’m so committed to, and focused on, writing my novel, the one person slowing me down is me. It’s like having a coach who doesn’t believe in you – who doesn’t want you to win gold.

    If you knew an athlete who had a coach like this, you’d probably tell them, ‘Find another coach.’ That’s good advice.  We all need to believe in ourselves. That doesn’t mean we’re not aware of our faults – we just need to be even more aware of our strengths.

    We have to see that mental picture: crossing the finishing line. It’s what should keep us going even on the glum days. Don’t lose your equilibrium. You can do it!
    Timelock — 7 days

    Spend an hour a day on your ‘spring cleaning’.

    5 Quick Hacks
    1. Write down what you need as a person. Then decide what steps you must take to get what you need.
    2. Do the same for your writing. Write down what you need to make your life as a writer work. How will you make that happen?
    3. Create two columns. On the left, write down everything you hate about writing. On the right, write down everything you love about writing. Compare.
    4. Describe what qualities you’d look for in a writing coach or mentor – how can you cultivate those in your own mind?
    5. Ask someone to be your mentor or, if you have the resources, hire a life coach.
    Pin it, quote it, believe it:

    ‘Your characters’ lives should spiral out of control. Never your own.’ — Anthony Ehlers

    Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

     by Anthony Ehlers

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

    If you enjoyed this post, read:


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        What Fiction Writers Can Learn From A Child's Mind

        Guest Post

        Stuck in a rut? Unable to get the next plot of your story together? All that might be missing is a little bit of creativity. 

        Writing is a passion of the heart that flows through the writer’s pen, hoping to leave an eternal mark on readers’ minds. However, growing competition in this area of creative expression has made it more difficult for writers to stand out.

        What can you do differently? One answer is to look in unusual places for inspiration. Unusual does not have to be something mystical. It can be as simple as child’s play. Fiction writers and children both have fanciful minds. Observing children in their routine games can prove to be an excellent lesson in creativity.

        Children dream. Children imagine. And children love. For a child, nothing is impossible. And that's what separates them from us. They do not think that they will fail. They invent things and they look at things differently. 

        If you're looking for a creative plot for your next story, you need to think out of the box by looking at life in a simpler, more imaginative way. 

        Here are three things writers can learn from children:

        1.  Observe children at play
        Children don’t need much to imagine a whole new world. You can learn a lot just by observing how children play. Children have the ability to create worlds and characters. They see the fantastic in the most humdrum things. When you see a cereal box, you see just that. However, when a child sees it, he sees the next mega structure in his expanding world.
        2.  Let go of mental boundaries
        When children play, nothing is out of reach. In a child’s imagination, he could be the king of the world or a wizard in a parallel universe. A child’s mind has no limits of logic, reasoning, or absurdity. For a fiction writer, this quality could be the edge you need. You can take your readers on adventures unthinkable for the ‘rational’ adult brain. Surprise yourself by not restraining yourself by the mundane. You're writing fiction, and the world's realities can be moulded any way you want.
        3.  Write without limits
        You can write about anything under the sun. Or if that is too run-of-the mill for you, then construct a whole new world from scratch. Children do exactly that. They believe in dragons and fairies and they talk about mythical worlds with no hesitation. Such unbridled creativity can prove to be a boon for your writing.
        We are easily amused by a child’s fantastical stories. However, if we take them seriously, they are a treasure trove of inspiration. Hand over your pen to the child in you, bubbling with enthusiasm to create something exciting. Do not shy away from challenging Tolkien or Rowling if you believe in your make-believe. Nothing is wrong in the world of fiction. 

        by John Cabrera. John is a freelance writer, web content writer, editor, blogger, content strategist, and ghost-writer. He is the co-founder of Freelance Writer Opportunities, a blog dedicated to writers’ financial growth. Follow John on  Twitter.


          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

          Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 30: The 30 Minute Challenge

          Welcome to week 30 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

          Goal setting
          1. Do as many of the 30 minute challenges as possible
          Breaking it down

          Taking on the challenge
          Here in South Africa, we have a few public holidays coming up. I’ve decided to shake up my writing routine. I’ve come up with a fun challenge for Week 30 of writing a novel in a year. Why not take the challenge?

          This week, write for 30 minutes a day or write 300 words a day – whichever comes first. Write without distraction, pausing, or censoring your writing. Keep that hand moving!  You can make this a challenge in your writing group – or set a date with another writing friend to meet at a coffee shop.

          Take 30 minutes to plan or outline a scene in your novel. Aim for 3 scenes a day.  I call this ‘the breakfast, lunch, and dinner’ approach. Plan one scene in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening.  Don’t worry if the scenes are not in sequence.

          List 30 things about a character in your story. For example, ‘Jena passed out on her first photo shoot’, ‘Matt still keeps photos of his first wife in a file on his MacBook.’  When you’re done, circle the most interesting and cross out those that are boring.
          Speedy synopsis
          Without looking at your longer, detailed synopsis, open a new document on your computer – or tear a couple of pages from an exam pad. Now re-write a synopsis of your book.  Set yourself a limit of 30 minutes.

          When you don’t have the luxury of time, you won’t dawdle. You’ll get down only the main points of your novel. You’ll have to find short thumbnails for your characters.

          Focus on:

          • inciting incident
          • 3 major plot points
          • climax

          If you’re already satisfied with your synopsis, you can try writing the blurb for the back of your novel. How will you seduce the reader into buying the book? How will you set up the main ‘hook’ of your story? Set a 30-minute time limit.

          Get inspired, get sorted, and get reading
          In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises we write out affirmations - positive statements that will motivate us in our journey to embracing our craft or rediscovering our creativity.

          So another great idea is to write out writing affirmations on index cards or Post-It notes – keep them in your wallet, or stick them up on the fridge. Write out as many as you can in 30 minutes.

          You can also spend a quick 30 minutes on tidying up your study or writing space.  Get organised – file or shred papers you don’t need, make sure you’re working on the right version of a file, sharpen some pencils and, most important, do a backup of your files. 

          And your final 30 minute challenge: do 30 minutes of research on your novel.  Take this time to set up a call or interview with a subject matter expert or do some surfing on the Net.
          Timelock — 30 minutes

          Write whenever you have 30 minutes to spare.

          5 Quick Hacks
          1. Get 30 minutes extra sleep or exercise – whichever most restores your soul.
          2. Read the first 30 pages of a new novel. Write down how you think it will end. Or read the last 30 pages – and write down how you think it started.
          3. Write a summary of your book that can be read in 30 seconds.
          4. Come up with some other 30-minute challenges – and post your challenge on social media.
          5. Drive in your car (or take a bus or train) for 30 minutes. Where do you land up? Write about this place or event.
          Pin it, quote it, believe it:

          ‘For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight hours of sleep and eight of work.’ — Doug Larson

          Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

           by Anthony Ehlers

          If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

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              Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.