Commit to yourself and to your writing. Like all great self-improvement strategies, they only work if you work it.
Find a time each when you can carve out at least thirty minutes to write for the first thirty days.
Acknowledge where this writing will take place for the first thirty days.
As the year progresses experiment with different times and different places; seek to know more about yourself as a writer, as a person. When is your mind more effective and creative? Where do you feel more comfortable and inspired? It doesn’t have to be a traditional desk or in an office. Think outside your previous writing practice and any writer stereotypes you might have.
Make your writing time sacred; turn off the cell phone, turn off email, hang a sign on the door that you will be back in XYZ amount of time and only knock if there is flood, fire, or imminent death.
Think about music—see if you can write with music; see what types of music help you to get into your flow.
Think about mediating if it helps you.
These exercises are only meant to get the juices flowing; while they add to working on your novel, they don’t seek to replace telling the actual story. This isn’t a how to guide, but more of a what if guide, helping you to dig deeper into your thoughts and your characters.
Approach each exercise with an open mind; this isn’t school—you aren’t being graded. You can choose to tackle the task in any way or form you would like.
Some of these exercises ask you to make lists of information about characters. This may feel like it isn’t really writing. Eudora Welty is said to have never revised her short stories. The reason? She thought them all out in her headfirst. By creating these lists, you prompt yourself to think in new ways about your characters and the situations they find themselves in. By knowing their backstory, you can begin to conceive of their present or future.
Don’t be afraid to follow your fancy. If you really liked one exercise and want to do it again, go for it. If you really hate one, skip it. If you get into a groove and find yourself writing longer than your time limit—go for it. If an exercise turns into a new story or new novel, let it.
Don’t edit while you write. Humans work best doing one thing at a time. Yes, we can multi-task; yes, some of us are really good at multitasking. But this is about getting in touch with your creative side. Critical thoughts about word choice or structure or negative thinking and judging stop creativity dead in its tracks. Just write. Save editing for a different part of the day or for when the piece is in a final rough draft.
Enjoy this. Everyone with a novel inside them wants to let it out. They dream of the day when they will see someone reading their words or seeing their own work on a bookstore shelf. Now thanks to the Internet, this dream is an increasing reality. You can do this. You can write a book.