It’s a new year — time to reset, start fresh, and achieve.
Whether you’re starting a brand-new project or want to finally finish that old manuscript you’ve been working on, this is your year to make it happen. All you need is the right game plan.
What works for one author might not be best for another — we all take our own paths to success, and there’s no “right” way to finish a novel. With that being said, there are a few basic tools every author can use to stay on track. We put together this book writing game plan to help you stay inspired and meet your writing goals this year.
1. Establish a Writing Habit
First things first: If you want to write a book, you have to actually write. Create a habit of working on your manuscript every day.
Here are a couple of tips for fostering a sustainable, long-term writing habit.
Set up Your Writing Space
Find a comfortable workspace where you can get creative. Whether it’s a desk, a kitchen table, or a coffee shop, make it your space to focus on your book.
Sitting on your bed might not be the best for productivity, so consider somewhere you can sit up and avoid distractions.
Find Your Time
Carve out a block of time in your daily schedule for writing. It might be an hour early in the morning or just 15 minutes after dinnertime — whatever feels natural to you. Dedicate that time to writing with no distractions.
It doesn’t have to be a writing sprint. Even one paragraph at a time is progress, as long as you take the time to do it every day.
2. Write an Outline
Novel outlines — some writers hate them, and others can’t work without them.
Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, an outline will help you bring your vision to life. It’s a great tool to avoid writer’s block and stay focused. If you’ve never written a novel outline before, consider these tips:
- Keep it simple. Don’t worry about your prose here. Describe your plot, characters, and stakes like you’re talking to a friend.
- Give away the ending. Yes, your outline should spoil the end of your novel. Think of it like a road map: Where do you want your characters to end up, and how are they going to get there?
- Remember it will change. You can edit and rewrite your outline as much as you want. Don’t worry about making it perfect.
- Write it for yourself. While the outline might help with your book marketing someday, remember that this draft is just for you and shouldn’t read like a sales pitch.
3. Find Your People
Find a writing community to support you in your journey. There are tons of online resources out there to connect with other authors, share pitches, and get advice on book publishing.
Twitter can be a great platform to meet other writers. If you’re not into social media, consider joining an online writing community or a local book club. NaNoWriMo is another helpful resource to get advice and track your progress. You don’t have to participate in National November Writing Month to sign up, but it is a fun way to get motivated.
Get a Beta Reader
As you get to the final stages of writing your novel, a beta reader can help you identify issues. Talk to people in your writing community about swapping novels to provide feedback.
Your beta reader doesn’t need to be a professional editor. When you’re ready to edit your novel for self-publishing, Palmetto Publishing can help.
4. Finish a Draft
This step might sound obvious, but it’s the one a lot of authors struggle with. Finish that first draft!
You can edit and rewrite sections of your novel forever, but you’ll never publish a book with no ending. If you’re struggling to finish your first draft, remember:
- A rough draft is supposed to be rough. It won’t be perfect. We promise, no author in the history of writing has written a perfect, print-ready book on the first try.
- There are no rules. Need to skip a scene and come back to it later? Want to make your protagonist time travel or your villain do a little dance? There are no rules in the first draft — do whatever it takes to get to the end.
- You’re not alone. Finishing a novel is hard. Every writer struggles at this stage, so be nice to yourself.
5. Hold Yourself Accountable
Here’s the thing: There will always be an excuse not to finish your book.
Some authors can nail down a novel in just three drafts. For others, it can take up to 10. No matter what your process is, your first draft definitely won’t be your final draft. So, hold yourself accountable, stick to your habit, and keep writing.
It’s OK to Take a Break
You might feel the need to step away from this project before you dive into a second or third draft. That’s totally fine! Take a breather and get a little perspective — but don’t give up on your writing habit. Come back to your workspace every day.
This might be a good time to work on a poem or a short story. You can also use this pause to make mood boards and playlists, rewrite your outline, or read a book that inspires you.
Once you’re ready, start again with a clear head.
6. Make It a Book
The crucial final step in your writing game plan is to turn that manuscript into a book.
That’s where Palmetto Publishing can help. We offer tons of self-publishing resources to new and experienced writers, including book printing.
You’ve done the hard part already. When it comes to details like your cover art and book layout, Palmetto makes it easy. Don’t be afraid to take that final step and become an author!
You Can Write a Book This Year
Like any other craft, writing takes time, practice, and dedication. If you’re serious about becoming an author, why not get started now?
Palmetto Publishing won’t write your book for you, but we will help you take the final step and get it published. Check out our resources for more information, guides, and writing inspiration.