I came across a video on YouTube today, a TED talk by Nathan Filer that pretty much said everything about writing a first novel that I would ever want to say. It’s perfect. You can watch it yourself, below. But to pick out a few key points.
- Your debut novel is unlikely to be your ‘debut’ novel. In other words, you’re likely to write at least one or two that aren’t of a publishable standard before you finally write one that is.
- Focus on the things you can control. You have no say over whether your book will win prizes, whether critics will like it, whether it will sell millions of copies. The only thing you can control is the next sentence.
- Set yourself specific and achievable goals. Writing some words (not necessarily a thousand), sitting at your desk trying to write for a set amount of time, finishing a chapter. (More on this below.)
- Allow yourself to fail. It’s part of the process.
- If your book is rejected 30 times, it might not be any good. That doesn’t mean that *you* are not any good. It doesn’t mean that your next book won’t be any good. It only might mean something about that specific book and, even then, it’s only *might*.
Finally, just a little quote from Filer. This is what he did that finally helped him finish the novel that had been sitting in his drawer.
“I replaced ‘I want to be a writer’ …with ‘I will write something today’…”
If I had one piece of advice for aspiring writers (apart from watching Filer’s talk) it would be to try to do exactly that.