Five Steps to Write a Novel

This idea came to me yesterday at school, (I teach children with autism in high school), and the mainstream school organised an event, Write A Novel In A Day. From 8am to 8pm, in groups, the students would write, edit and illustrate a novel in 12 hours. In between classes, I was checking their progress and observing the workmanship of students between grade 7-9 (age 13-15).

At times, writing a novel can be overwhelming and sometimes taking on such a large task will let the writer’s block get the better of you. But when you get down to it, those steps are a lot simpler than you might expect and you can finish a novel like those students.

In this post, I created five steps to help you write your novel.


#1 Figure out Where You’re Going

You don’t necessarily have to be a plotter in order to get the most out of this step. Just sit down and figure out what’s driving you to write. Do you have a character in mind? A full cast? Do you have any idea what challenges they might face? Maybe a personal experience is driving you to write, and you need to build a quick framework before you dive in. No matter what style you adhere to, you need to take at least a little bit of time for planning. You don’t need a roadmap, complete with highlighted rest stops and preferred diners, but you need some idea of where you’re headed.

#2 Set Daily/ Weekly Goals

To finish your book, you need to be a productive writer. There is no way around that. You need to stay dedicated to your work, and the easiest way to do that is to set word and/or time goals. If you can, set aside a specific time of day to write, and pair that time with a specific word goal. But sometimes unexpected life events can creep up, that is why I said weekly goals. If you planned a night but something happens, that’s okay just make up for it another time before the week is over.

If you’re new, keep your standards low. Someone who writes a small amount a day will write more than the inconsistent author who sits down once every two weeks to write 2000 words.

#3 Embrace Editing

Edit your draft when it is finished.

There’s a magical secret to great editing: you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it. There are shortcuts, though. Although many people prefer to hide their first drafts, discussing and even sharing your early work with beta readers can help you edit less. At the very least, early feedback will help you get a jumpstart on your second draft.

#4 Send It Out into the World

If you want to just write for yourself, then that’s your choice. If you want to share your work, though, don’t wait! Once you’re done editing, start investigating publishing options. You can use your daily writing time for this purpose. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you go with traditional publishing routes or self-publishing. Just share what you’ve written.

A book is only really complete when it finds its audience.

#5 Start Again

Your first book is polished and punted out into the wider world! Congrats! Now you get to start all over again. Like any skill, novel-writing improves with practice. Even if you’ve written the first story burning the back of your brain, others will always be waiting in the wings. Give them their time to shine, and keep your fingers on the keyboard.


Writing can be hard, but the steps are simple. Don’t let the process intimidate you. Your story is waiting. All you have to do is take the first step.

Post your comments and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view and answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DWTSmith #writeanovelinaday

day and night

2 thoughts on “Five Steps to Write a Novel

Add yours

  1. This is fantastic advice! I especially love the editing section. 🙂 I also highly recommend to have a critique partner with you every step, where you can just gush about your novel (and they, in return). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved a major plot hole just by telling my critique partner my plans and them pointing out a fatal flaw!

    Liked by 1 person

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