How long does it take to write a novel? That question reminds me of an old tootsie pop commercial – “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?” Remember that one? I think it was three. Lick, lick, crunch!

It can take a year or longer to write a novel. But it can also take shorter. Set a timeline for yourself. Try it. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. You readjust the timeline. But for starters, set a goal to write a novel in 6 months.

Before you start, know your genre, your audience, the number of main characters, the setting and the situation that starts the whole story. Got it? Write that down.

Set a time limit to write each day. Start the first month with one hour a day. Don’t do anything else during your set-aside writing time. Keep it sacred!

As time permits, increase it. An hour and a half a day. Give yourself a 2-hour of editing time once a week. Do not edit while you write. Save that for the editing block. But you still have to have the hour of writing. Editing is not writing.

And somewhere between life and your writing time each day, READ each day. I always read for about a half hour right before I go to sleep. You have to keep reading. As Stephen King says, “if you want to be a good writer, you have to do two things: write a lot and read a lot.” Trust me on this one!

Find a good editor. Give yourself some down time. And don’t stop.

Read it out loud when you’re done. This will help you find areas that don’t flow right. Get feedback. Don’t rush it. Have beta readers. Three is a good number.

Don’t ever underestimate yourself. Don’t worry if ‘it’s good enough’. That can all be worked out much later. First, you just need to get the story down.

Write!

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