Ready for Writing Your Novel? Common Concerns by Beth Barany ☕️ 💗

Ready for Writing Your Novel? Common Concerns by Beth BaranyYou’re sitting down to work on your novel and you stare at the black screen or blank page with no ideas.

Or maybe you know what you want to write, you just can’t bring yourself to go for it.

Maybe you don’t know enough about your story. If only you did more research or brainstorming.

Do you see yourself in these scenarios?

Or maybe you experience other stumbling blocks to writing your novel.

Here’s some of the common concerns I’ve encountered, either in myself or with the hundreds of students and clients I’ve helped over the last 20+ years of working with fiction writers.

  1. Perfectionism…

    OMG. This one sneaks up and freezes me. My self talk goes something like this:I don’t know what I’m doing. What if no one likes it? I’m nuts to walk this new path. What if I risk it all and fail?

When I realize I’m slipping down a fear spiral, I pull out my Mission Impossible mantra:

Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to write crap.

After all, this is the first draft. Or the discovery draft, depending if you’re a pantser or plotter. (It’s a bit of both for me as I do some planning but not in as great detail as others. I need to discover the story as I write.)

Once you have something written you can edit and revise. Later. Once the first draft is done. All the way done.

I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper. ~ Steve Martin

2. How do I know my creative process? 

If you’ve never written a novel before, you won’t know your process until you get in there and experience it for yourself.

Now is the time to be brave, have courage, and experiment. See #1.

Your job is to write a sloppy first draft.

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. ~ James Michener

3. How do I do the famous BIC (BUTT IN CHAIR)?

Sometimes getting started is the hardest thing.

Both Ezra and I have this challenge. Even after having written over a dozen novels each.

So we both use timed writing tools.

My favorite: I like to set the timer for 20 minutes. Or if that feels too daunting some days, I start with a 5-minute journal entry to express all my rambling thoughts and to get focused on whatever is next.

Ezra likes to tell himself: Just write 50 words. He inevitably ends up writing at least a few pages, even more, like 1,000 words. But he doesn’t pressure himself.

Some writers do a mind map or List of 20 ideas.

Use whatever brainstorming method that is easy, fun, gets your creative juices flowing, has you jumping with excitement. Etc.

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. ~ Octavia E. Butler

4. What do I do if the blank page mocks me? (Blank-page-itis)

I recommend you review your story plan or outline. There may be holes that your subconscious is nudging you about.

Ask yourself: What questions do I have about my story? Jot down your ideas or just ruminate on them.

Often the blank page mocks us when there’s something challenging inside our story, usually a difficult emotion to incorporate.

Start with breathing. It’s going to be okay. You got this. You are the perfect vessel to tell this story. All your life experience brings you to this moment.

Breathe. And gently face the emotion that is welling. How can you channel those feelings into your character? Go.

Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul. ~ Isabel Allende

5. I really want to do Nanowrimo, but I’m too tired…

I hear you. I cannot write late at night, usually, though Ezra can.

I’m actually a midday writer, so usually write after lunch. Some writers get up early to get in their words.

Some put in 2-3 short writing stints during the day, even while waiting in line or waiting for their kid’s sports game to finish.

Writing is really a way of thinking — not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet. ~ Toni Morisson

More great writing quotes:

What are your concerns when you sit down to write your novel?

Comment below and let us know!


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Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers.

She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away.

Her 12-month program for dedicated novelists who have finished at least one first draft is now entering its 8th year and helps writers create excellent publishable books on their own terms. Curious? Check it out here.

Her latest book for authors, co-written with her husband, also a novelist and teacher, is Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! and comes with a downloadable workbook and other goodies.

When she’s not helping writers, Beth writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.


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  • Hugh Tipping says:

    Let it be messy. Take baby steps and you’ll find yourself running soon. Be aware of how you’re feeling. Be patient with yourself and your own, unique, process.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Love it, Hugh. Thank you so much for sharing. Yes, here here for messy!

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