One Writer’s Journey from The Beginning A Step-by-Step Beginner Writers Guide – Part 1 How to Write Your Novel Without Having a Background in Writing by Raina Schell

DeathtoStock_Desk7Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Raina Schell as she shares with us about “One Writer’s Journey from The Beginning A Step-by-Step Beginner Writers Guide – Part 1 How to Write Your Novel Without Having a Background in Writing.” Enjoy!


I was stuck thinking today, as I am most days and I realized that when I began writing I could have really used a tutorial, someone else’s experience – kind of like a step-by-step guide. I had plenty of seasoned writers trying to help and I’m so grateful to all of them but the beginning is just plain hard. So I wanted to write a guide for those of you who are about to start or who have just started or who want to start and are afraid or lost or confused or all of the above….

The Beginning of the Beginning…

I am happy to admit that when I decided I wanted to write a novel I had no idea where to begin. I have some writing in my background, I even made a living at it once but it was not novels, which are whole different beasts within themselves. I kind of jumped into it with both feet and I kind of failed but with failing came learning. With failing came picking myself up, dusting off my knickers and trying again.

I started late in life, after my 4th career. The one thing I’ve had is determination. I began my very first novel about 20 years ago. I wrote 50 pages and then shelved it. I picked it up again about 3 years ago and tried to rework it but I was stuck. I kept re-writing the same 50 pages and changing them and re-writing and changing, etc. I did that for almost a year. During that time I tried to get my hands on books that would teach me how to write and I joined my local chapter of RWA (Romance Writer’s of America). That was the best thing I did, hands down.

DeathtoStock_Desk1The women there are nurturing, supportive and helpful. One day I was bemoaning my book to a woman I didn’t know and she said something like, “Are you finished with it?” and I said something like “No, I’ve been working on it for about 20 years”. And she said something like, “Just finish it”. I don’t know why hearing those words from a stranger worked. Maybe it was timing, maybe it was the firmness in which she said it (firm but not mean)… Then she said, “NaNo starts next month, write it during November.” I’d never heard of NaNo but I do like challenges so I did it. I wrote the book in November. Is it any good? No way! Does it need maybe more work and rewrites than I can give it? Probably. But that’s not what mattered or matters. What matters is that I dropped all the how to books, the books about outlining, the books explaining the difference between pantsers and plotters, the books telling you how important your plot points are, when your inciting incident and black moments appear – what goes where, when and how. This dropping was a good thing because all that information just overwhelmed and confused me. So I literally dropped it all and I committed to writing 2,000 words a day for five to six days a week for an entire month. Am I going to be a famous author who wins awards and makes six figures for her first book, definitely not. Did I walk away with a 50,000 word novel. Yes I did.

The questions I finally had to ask myself were:

  1. What is one of your biggest passions in life? Answer: Writing
  2. Are you writing to become famous or are you writing for you? Answer: For me
  3. Is it more important to get it done or spend your life trying to “make it good enough”? I think you know the answer to that one so….


Next Month – Part 2 in the Step-by-Step Beginner Writers Guide

How to Write Your Novel Without Having a Background in Writing.



Raina SchellRaina Schell is a vagabond. She lives where the tide takes her. The only constant in her life is her trusty laptop. She doesn’t live in a tidy little house. Her dreams aren’t surrounded by a white picket fence. She has no family but spends her free time with a black and white bunny rabbit named Fred.
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