For the last few months I have been hosting Q&A sessions every Tuesday (Monday if your in the US) on Instagram. I love the questions everyone has been sending me and I want to share with you the questions I have been given and the answers I responded with. The reason I want to share this is because a lot of the questions are common and perhaps reading this post will help you with some of your writing problems.
A. From my experience this sort of funk is because of feeling overwhelmed by your story and confused about where it is going. You need to sit and write down what is exactly confusing you about your book. Once you have it on paper you can begin to plan what you can do to address these issues. You should also set a time to write on those days you are at home and be prepared to start on time each day. If you are writing whenever you feel like it during the day it rarely works because you will always find something else to do. You also should try planning your story out. Make a detailed plot so there will be no confusion, make an inspiration board so that you can see the progression of your story in front of you instead of hidden in a computer, outline your scenes before writing them and get to know your characters really well.
Q. How do I find the time to balance life with writing?
A. The trick is not to find the time to write, it is to make time to write. I thin the way you balance writing and life is to make it a part of your daily routine such as going to the gym etc. Treat it like a job, because ultimately it is a job and particularly do this if you want it to be your occupation. Set a time to do it and stick to it. I always write at different times depending on my schedule, sometimes it is in the morning (rarely as I am not a morning person) but mostly it is at night around 11 pm and onwards. Nevertheless, it is always a time I allocate for myself because I always know what my schedule consists of because it is usually uni and work. You need to be organised and that way you create a habit. Most importantly, you need to wake with the intention to write because all of your planning and dedication will be for naught if you do not think about writing all the time.
Q. How do you stay inspired with your work in progress when you're losing your creativity to keep going?
A. Writing a book is a mammoth task. If you are loosing focus it may be because you are feeling overwhelmed and thinking that it may never end. I suggest breaking it down into manageable tasks such as by scene or chapter. Also, if you write your chapters in order, try shaking things up a bit by writing that scene you are dying to write. Alternatively, you can step back from writing and go backstage to review your plot, novel structure to check if it has all necessary plot points, complications, a climax and resolution. It is sometimes beneficial to revisit your characters backstories to brush up on their motivations and check whether you know everything about them. If this doesn't work you honestly may need a little break. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you leave you book with the solid intention to return to it. Another thing that helps me stay motivated is to use excel sheets because I get to see my progress. Seeing this motivates me to write more words and to be accountable. When you see yourself hitting targets the inspiration comes in droves.
Q. I am coming out of a 2 1/2 year writing block, so getting back in the groove is touch and go at times. How do I motivate myself to write?
A. Wow, that is a really long time but at least you are coming out of it now! Congratulations! Motivating yourself to write is difficult for everyone but there are a few things you can try. Maybe you can try joining or creating a writers group to cheer you on and make you accountable, or, try posting your stories on Wattpad. That way you will gain a following of people who want to see what happens next when you post in increments and this will encourage you to write more. Either way, I am here for you whenever you need, just hit me up if you need anything!
Q. Okay, so I'm writing my first novel and most of the kids in school are saying I'm too young and it's not going to be very good. I'm really scared its going to turn out bad. What can I do?
A. Hi! First of all, do not listen to them! A writer can be any age and it doesn't matter how old you are as long as you are doing what you love. I started writing when I was 10 years old and no, my book will not win any awards but it set me on the path I am on now. There will always be people who will doubt your writing but you must prove them wrong. Just write regardless. Also, there is a new trend where publishers are printing works of children as books for other kids.If that is possible I do not see any age barrier for publishing and if you are a minor they generally ask to see written permission from your parents that you are allowed to publish your work. As for the fear of it being bad, don't stress about it. The first draft of anything is terrible but it will only get better with each revision! As long as you love it, never fear! Believe in yourself and I am here to help and cheer you on. Email me if you ever need anything.
Q. Any tips on publishing for those doing it for the first time? I've got a finished manuscript!
A. Yay! Congratulations! What an achievement! First and foremost, before you apply to any publisher or agent get your manuscript looked over by an editor and tested by betareaders. This is mandatory. Once you have done that you should start looking up who publishes books of the same genre as you and target them. If you go onto the publishers website they will tell you whether they take unsolicited manuscripts and if they do I suggest giving it a go. However, it is a slush pile which interns generally go through and therefore you only have one shot, so make sure your book is as good as it is going to get.
Many of the publishers require you to have a literary agent to do your bidding. This is becoming less common these days but I still think this is necessary because they know how the industry works and has contacts with the best editors and have pull within publishing spheres. Every country has a literary agents society and so I would go there first, because they are reputable. Otherwise, you can Google lit agents in your country and contact one who reps your genre. Do your research on your lit agent because you need to know if they have a good background in the industry and if they have rep'd some big name books etc. If you are in the US New Lead Literary Agency is really good.
Also, just mentioning that Twitter is a great place to find lit agents. I know of many authors who have connected with agents that way. It is also good to create an author platform early and build your network. This is important as it is one thing that publishers and agents consider because it means you may have a ready and waiting group of people who will buy your works. It is all about making money to them, so do not be disheartened if your book isn't picked up straight away. It doesn't mean that it isn't good. Publishers have a certain style of writing that they do for at any given time, so if they don't go for your story it may merely mean it is not what they are looking for at the time.
Q. Do you have any tips on how to get a good writing network established?
A. Social media is the key! You need to establish yourself as a writer and that means you need to make a website and other social accounts to spread awareness. You can make a blog attached to your website but beware EVERYONE has a blog so just ensure you have something which makes it unique from others. For instance, I provide a section which has posts about different historical eras which writers can use to gain inspiration for their novels.
As a tip, when it comes to social media you need to post every day. It is hard when you have multiple accounts so choose one which you are really active on and focus on that one, but still post daily on the others. Twitter is good for mass exposure, Facebook is great for long talks and sharing really cool things you see out there in the web but my true love is insta. The people there are chatty, lovely and supportive. I have made friends I chat to everyday which I met this year on insta.
Q. How long should my novel be?
A. Hi! Welcome to our writer community! So the length of a novel depends on your genre. Here is the generally accepted limits on words:
- Crime Fiction: 90,000-100,000
- Mystery/Thrillers: 70,000-90,000
- Romance: 40,000-100,000
- Fantasy: 90,000-125,000
- Paranormal: 75,000-95,000
- Horror: 80,000-100,000
- Sci-Fi: 90,000-125,000
- Historical Fiction: 100,000-125,000
- YA: 50,000-80,000
- New Adult: 60,000-85,000
- Novella: 20,000-50,000
- Short Stories: 1,000-8,000
- Non-Fic: 70,000-110,000
If you want to join in on the conversation on Instagram look out for this image! I encourage everyone to participate and answer questions given by participants if you know the answers. Also, if you don't have a question just come for a chat and meet new writing enthusiasts!
I hope this helps you! Leave me your comments below.