You want to write a novel. If you’re lucky, you already have an idea or three — or even a dozen. But which idea will you choose? On the other hand, perhaps you’ve always wanted to publish a novel, but don’t have any ideas at all.
Let’s look at ways to get started writing, whether you have an idea or not.
Writing your novel: how to get started, even if your mind is blank, and your inspiration has gone
Currently I have ideas (and outlines) for three novels, but I don’t feel inspired by any of them. “Just pick an idea,” I told myself yesterday.
So I did, and I started writing. By the time I’d written 500 words, I knew it wasn’t working.
I decided that I’d hunt for a fresh idea, to kick my creativity to life. Part of my problem is post-book depression. I’ve recently published Priscilla’s Destiny, which finishes up my time travel Regency romance trilogy. It’s common to feel slightly depressed when you’ve completed a book. And it’s also common to feel that you want to write, but WHAT? 🙂
Let’s look at ways you can find ideas for your next novel.
1. Start writing titles — kickstart your creativity
Not sure what to write, or even in which genre you’d like to write? Years ago I read a book on writing by bestselling novelist Dean Koontz.
Koontz doesn’t outline. He’s a pantser. He just starts writing. When he wants to start a new book, he begins by writing titles. He lists them down the page, until something clicks.
Then he starts writing the book. I’ve tried that method before, so I’m going to try it again. It works. 🙂
2. Write a short story: it may spark ideas for a novel
One of the best ways to ensure that you freeze up with writer’s block is to announce to your subconscious mind that you’re about to write a book.
A short story, which you can finish in a few hours, removes the pressure. Since ideas for writing always come when you’re writing, it’s more than likely that a bright new idea for a novel will emerge while you’re writing the short story.
3. Buy a cover — check out premade cover designs and get inspired
Images always spark creativity for me. The last time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write, I bought the cover for Lady Saville’s Lover.
The cover struck me while I was browsing designs, and the title just came to mind. I had no idea what the novel would be about, or anything else… The cover spoke to me, and I just started writing.
Do a Google search for “premade book covers”. You’ll find lots of websites which offer covers, and you may be inspired.
4. Read your comfort reads — the books which inspire you to write
Georgette Heyer is one of my “comfort read” authors. When I get stuck, I read a few chapters of Heyer, and my writing flows again.
Which authors inspire you?
When you’re looking for a great idea, take a couple of days off from writing,and devote them to reading. However, don’t read without a deadline. Commit to starting your novel on a specific date. When that date arrives, start writing.
This brings us to our final tip…
4. Not an idea in your head? Start writing anyway
You may be over-thinking the writing process. Sometimes the only thing to do is to start writing.
Sit down, and write anything which comes to mind.
For years, I pasted a little card on my typewriter with “DDT” on it. The DDT meant “Do, Don’t Think.” Writers think too much, and it cripples your creativity, as well as making writing harder than it needs to be.
Maybe I got the DDT idea from Ray Bradbury; I might well have done:
Ray Bradbury, often said that conscious thought is poisonous to the creative process, and that true creativity springs from the unconscious mind. In a 1975 speech, he said, “I have had a sign by my typewriter for the better part of twenty years, now, which says, ‘Don’t think.’
If you want to write a novel, you can. I hope these tips help. 🙂