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How to Stay Focused When Writing Novels

How I Persevered Through the Novel Writing Marathon

One more run-through, just one more, just to be sure. I’m on a limited budget, so a professional editor isn’t an option. I did invest in a cover and I looked at hundreds of copy-edits in my genre. But, that’s just, as the old cliché goes, the tip of the iceberg.

 
So, here I go, for a spot-check run-through in my debut novel, Northern Knights, Episode One in the Lord of Columbia Series. Just to ensure the ferocious self-editing tips I learned over the past year have made this book as high-quality of a product as possible.

 
It’s been three years, people, three years since I finally selected a premise for Lord of Columbia. Three years of drafts, edits, rewrites, learning, incorporating, and more rewrites. Oh, my goodness, could I have saved myself a lot of time and heartache.

 
This time last year, I didn’t even know what point-of-view was. Heck, I didn’t even know how to make an author’s platform. I had a blog, but it was basically an online journal, where I wrote about every thought that invaded my mind.

 
Needless to say, from 2015 to 2018, for the majority of three years, I didn’t know what to do. I had no author friends, no mentors (until I invested in the Jerry Jenkins Writers’ Guild), and in the end, no direction.

 
Now here I am, about to release Northern Knights for the world to read, if they want, anyway. For the world to judge, if they want.

 
Let me tell you, even if the world hates it, I’ll always appreciate this work, because everything I learned about myself, my writing, and how I accomplished the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because the full writing process was just that.

 
Here are my six tips for writing novels:

 
1) Don’t be afraid to learn new things. I rewrote Lord of Columbia three times and edited the work at least thirty times. As mentioned earlier, I didn’t understand point-of-view, or anything a real author would incorporate. But, each time I learned something new, I immediately incorporated in into my writing. Which takes me to tip number two…

 
2) BE PATIENT! I think most writers fail with their debut work because they lack patience. Have you edited your novel? Has someone else read it to tell you if the story works? If there’s one piece of advice I can give, it’s to edit that manuscript time and again, and one final time before hitting the publish button. When you’re ready to publish, edit it one more time and be ferocious.

 
3) Your writing time is sacred. You need to set aside times to write. For me, it’s early morning and late evening. I’ll wake up and either write or edit, depending on the day. Then, I’ll get a workout in, work my day job, come home, workout again (I’m a workout addict), and write or edit until my head hits the back of the couch. And on weekends, it’s a writing and research MARATHON! But, find those sweet times to write and stick to them.

 
4) Something is always better than nothing. Remember back in school if you were stuck on a test question, the teacher told you to just put something down? Same goes here. If my third tip just isn’t working, and some days it won’t work, trust me, at least do something as it correlates to writing or editing. It could be reading a book in a similar genre. It could be research. Heck, it could even be an outline or a synopsis of another idea or two you have. It could even be a movie in the genre in which you write. Just do something in that genre as it correlates to your writing.

 
5) What’s the driving force? Well, why did you get started? I used to use this trick with clients all the time during my heyday as a trainer. What made you walk into a gym? Well, in this case, what made you want to start writing? Give me that primary motivation and I think you’ll find the ‘what.’ I tell writers the same thing I told clients: Make notes of what your primary motivators were and stick them somewhere you’ll always see them. For me, it’s on my laptop, which I’m on at least six hours a day. This leads me to number six…

 
6) Why is writing such a work important to you? The Lord of Columbia series is important to me because it’s my response to modern-day American policy both at home and abroad. It voices my displeasure with the way America is currently conducting business with perpetual war and the never-ending welfare state at home. So, why is your work important? Even if it doesn’t have a message as deep as mine, it’s still important enough for you to sit down and write. Always, always, always remember why it’s important.

 
So, if you’re having trouble getting through the Novel Writing Marathon, take my six tips to heart. Remember to learn new things, be patient, set aside writing time, do something each day, remember your driving force, and remember your message, so you can stay focused through thick and thin.

 
Make your work as close to perfect as possible. Don’t freak if you feel you’re light years away. Don’t freak if you have a hundred typos in your work. Hey, I self-edited Northern Knights, so perhaps my eyes did miss a typo or a tiny plot hole? But, be patient. It took me three years to get Northern Knights up to par, or what I believe to be par. Maybe it’s there, maybe it’s not, but the beautiful thing about self-publishing is if it still needs work, you can always rebrand and rebuild.

 
I’d like to thank all of my readers for coming across My Freedom Flame, please come back soon.

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