The Writers’ Café book How to Successfully Write Your First Novel lets you in on the secrets that most novel-writing books don’t tell you. It takes a real, honest look at what it’s really like to write a book for the first time, when you’re new to the world of fiction-writing and perhaps a little bit unsure of whether you can really do this. This compact and forthright volume is packed full of advice to guide you and to cheer you on your way, as you navigate the expected and unexpected twists and turns of your novel-writing journey.

To celebrate the release of How to Successfully Write Your First Novel, we’re sharing five things in this blog post which you should know before you start writing a novel.

  1. Writing a novel will take a long time. This seems an obvious statement, but many people still underestimate the commitment required to write a full-length book. The average novel is somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 words long. The average person’s typing speed is 40 words per minute. Let’s say you’re aiming for 75,000 words – that’s almost 30 hours of typing. But this assumes that you already know exactly what you’re going to say, every step of the way. You are guaranteed to spend a LOT more than 30 hours trying to figure out what happens next, and what the best words are to describe it – and then a whole lot more time re-writing what you’ve done, when a better idea comes to you. Be prepared to spend more time on your novel than you might anticipate – we’re talking months here, if not years, of regular and consistent effort.
  2. You will most likely get lost somewhere along the way. Those 75,000 words’ worth of story will inevitably get more complicated than you expect. At first, you may have a birds’ eye view of the plot, and it all seems to make sense, and you just need to steer your characters from point A (the beginning) to point B (the end). But at some stage along the way you’ll find yourself, together with your characters, at point Z, which you weren’t expecting to encounter, and unsure how exactly point Z relates to point A, point B, the plot, or anything at all. Welcome to the world of being a writer.
  3. You will probably feel like giving up at some point. Or at several points. This may well be point Z, as well as other points that bear a striking resemblance to it. Writing a novel is hard, it’s complicated, and, when you’re in the middle of it and things aren’t going the way you’d planned, it may feel like an unachievable task. Don’t give up. You are entirely capable of wrestling your story back on track. (Helpful hint: chapter 9 of our book covers what to do when you get stuck.)
  4. Your novel doesn’t need to be perfect. Writing a novel is really, really hard (see points 1-3 above), and expecting perfection from each and every one of those 75,000 words is – let’s be honest – far too much to ask. Some of them might be perfect, some not so amazing, but if you can describe most of them as ‘good’, you’ll have done a great job that you can be proud of. (You can, of course, then go on to edit those words to perfection – but for now, let’s focus on getting your first draft completed, because of point 5 below…)
  5. Finishing the first draft of your novel will give you a huge buzz. There’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment you get from typing ‘The End’ after all the hard work – after dozens of hours on the laptop or with a notebook in front of you, many early mornings or late nights, endless cups of tea or slices of pizza – whatever your novelling journey looks like.

To get thoroughly equipped for your own journey into novel-writing, order your copy of How to Successfully Write Your First Novel here.