The best advice I would give to a novice novel writer is to have faith and patience above all else. Now, I understand that if you’re not a religious person, “faith” might leave a bad taste in your mouth. Perhaps especially so coming from me, since I’ve written about faith in a religious context several times on this very site. But that isn’t the only kind of faith I’m referring to here.
Faith in yourself is a tricky subject, especially without higher faith in a greater power. However, I find that faith can apply fairly evenly across the spectrum of authors of varying religions or lack thereof. Personally, faith in myself translates into two primary elements. First of all, it’s faith that I’m a skilled writer. The best writer? No–I couldn’t care less who is, which means it’s not me, and that takes a load off all on its own. Skilled enough to disregard further learning? Of course not–I’m of the firm belief that no matter how adept humans get at any given talent, there’s always room to grow. So, with that out of the way, I can have faith in the simple truth that I can group words in a sensible way to tell a story very well. Secondly, I know that whatever I desire to write, if it interests me enough to write it, then someone else out there will be interested in reading it. And likewise, if it’s interesting enough to me, there should be a large number of others out there who want it.
And by all means, if you place faith in a higher power, avail yourself of it. It’s more useful than one might realize. On a number of occasions, that’s the only thing that keeps me writing. It’s not a faith that if I follow a certain set of rules, God will be pleased and will bless me. It’s a deeper faith that takes all the other concerns of daily life off my shoulders so I can focus solely on my writing. And perhaps more importantly, it’s a faith that even if I should repeatedly fail in this endeavor, it makes no difference on who I am as a person. I find that last bit makes a huge difference for us writers who so notoriously attach our work to our self-worth.
And then there’s patience, which stems from faith on so many levels. I’ve found that I don’t need to be the youngest author or the author with the most books out each year. I simply need to write my story and keep writing it until I’m done, not slacking off, but not rushing either. It’s a beautiful balance that says readers will still be there when I’m finished and my work will still be just as unique and incredible as it would have been if I had finished in six months instead of twelve.
And lastly, I find that faith plus patience equals determination and subsequently perseverance. I started this adventure knowing that I want to write. I’ve always wanted to write, but I finally just sat down and began. And with the same calculated decision-making that doesn’t take time to look at emotion or all the obstacles left on the road, I’m just whittling away at the task in front of me. And before I know it, I’ll be done with the first step and ready to move on to the next. And I find that this matches perfectly with the concept of your novel as a startup. Sure, some companies do blaze a quick trail, but just as many or more are highly successful after years of working steadily at their field. The same goes for authors.
So, whether you’re a new author trying to find out how to start your novel or an experienced one in need of a refresher on some basics, please, start here with faith and patience. With those, the rest will come in time and won’t be nearly as daunting.