8 Easy Things To Do BEFORE You Start Your Novel

1. Buy a timer and place it next to you as you write. This will help you keep track of how long you’ve been working—and how much time you have to go.

2. Place a “Do Not Disturb” note on your office door when you’re writing, if you don’t live alone.


This text excerpted from 90 Days to Your Novel
(WD Books, Dec. 2010), by Sarah Domet, whose
fiction and nonfiction appears or is forthcoming in
New Delta Review, Quarterly West, Cincinnati
Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Potomac Review,
Harpur Palate, and Many Mountains Moving.
See her author website here.

3. Turn your phone to silent and don’t check it—or better yet, turn it off.

4. If you work on a computer, log off from the Internet. This way you won’t be tempted to peek at your e-mail or procrastinate by checking the weather.

5. Try to write at the same time every day, if possible. Doing so will help you foster a good writing habit.

6. Avoid too much television watching during the next few months. Instead, read some novels. Good ideas are often generated from reading and are seldom generated from Must-See TV.

7. Use the buddy system. If you know a friend, a group of friends, or even a writing group comprised of individuals who want to write a novel, take the 90-day challenge together. You can reinforce each other, commiserate, inspire, complain, and help each other over those difficult writing slumps. Writing is a solitary enterprise, but talking about writing isn’t.

8. Remember to have fun! You’re about to take those first teetering, yet exhilarating steps toward writing your novel. Embrace the challenge.

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About Ben Sobieck

Benjamin Sobieck is a Wattpad Star and 2016 Watty Award winner. He’s best known on Wattpad for Glass Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective, the Watty Award–winning sequel Black Eye, and When the Black-Eyed Children Knock & Other Stories. Four of his titles have appeared on Wattpad Top 100 Hot Lists, all at the same time.

11 thoughts on “8 Easy Things To Do BEFORE You Start Your Novel

  1. Mary Alongi

    The general anti-television sentiment in the (novel) writing community really bums me out. A lot of television – especially one hour dramas on cable networks – is driven by brilliant writing that I think all lovers of fiction could draw inspiration from. Watching television doesn’t have to be a passive time waster. And there are far more bad novels that make it to publication than there are poorly written television shows.

    1. ladycasey

      I heartily agree with you, Mary. Many of my more exciting inspirations came from film venues, both small and large. And to be truthful, many novels I’ve read have been poorly written. Good writing is good storytelling, wherever you find it. (Of course, I don’t advocate watching TV INSTEAD of writing, but the same applies to reading. Don’t do it if it’s an impediment to actual writing.)

  2. mattmchugh

    1) Sharpen your pencils. You can never have too many. Check all drawers in the house to be sure you get them all.

    2) rganize your files. You may need access to past research. Create an alphabetical and chronological cross-index for efficiency.

    3) Skim the dictionary for any words you might not know.

    4) Call your mom. Unresolved family issues can cloud a writer’s judgment. Do siblings and cousins while you’re at it.

    5) Lose 15 pounds. You’re going to be sitting a lot.

    6) Trim toe nails. You’ll get holes in your sox if you don’t!

    7) What’s that sound? Is a faucet running somewhere? Better go check.

    8) Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll think more clearly in the morning.

  3. Emily

    Thank you for this post!

    As far as #7 goes, do you have any advice for finding online writing groups? I travel frequently, and it would be difficult for me to meet consistently with the same group of people.

  4. HeatherM

    This is excellent! #4 is particularly important for me to remember. The internet distracts me so much! I love #7 too. Twitter works for me in that way. There are so many encouraging people on it that keep pushing me. Thanks for the great tips!

  5. Liz

    Great advice. I really like the new full screen mode in Microsoft Word. It blocks everything out except the page, so I’m not constantly looking at things like my word or page count. It’s like a virtual DO NOT DISTURB sign.


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