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Checklist I need to check before I begin writing a novel

I've noticed for the past ten years I've been in the writing community that writers struggle to succeed beyond the first draft mark, if not past at least ten chapters into their stories. Kidding, that's too generous even for me. Let me say that again. I've noticed for the past ten years I've been in the writing community that writers struggle to succeed beyond the first draft mark, if not past at least three chapters into their stories.


Here's a list of possible things that a writer might be facing in their writing adventures. If you're willing to go through all of this, then good job because that's one step, among many more, that will lead you closer to finishing your manuscript.


A warning!


BEFORE I BEGIN MY WRITING JOURNEY, I NEED TO KNOW IF I REALLY WANT TO, AND TO TEST THAT, I’M GOING TO READ THIS. IF I STILL WANT TO WRITE A BOOK AFTER READING THIS, THEN I’M READY TO TAKE ON THE JOURNEY AND BECOME A WRITER.





Before you write, think long and hard as to what you are getting yourself into. Some people just dive into writing, with bold statements of wanting to become an author but ends up cursing their work or abandoning it midway. That’s because new authors doesn’t understand that writing is more than just filling page with words from their imagination.


Here are a few things to take note of, a few good concepts that is good to have before investing time, effort, money and braincells on writing.


1. Who do you write for?

One of the biggest questions I asked myself is who exactly am I writing for. Top 2 answers I've gathered is (1) for money (make money out of it, make a job out of it for profit, the likes) and (2) for a fandom we love (fanfiction on shipping characters, AU versions, alternate endings, etc.)


Each of this is inspired by exactly what they are. If I write because of money, then when the time comes that I don't achieve that, my inspiration begins to fade until I stop writing. The same thing for fandoms. The moment I fixate my attention on a new fandom or lose interest in fandoms altogether, then my writing career ends as well.


Let's do a reset.

What if the reason I'm writing for is for myself?

I'd like to share my writing journey into finishing my first book, but that's a story I will share in another blog. I will focus on sharing what my inspiration is to write and keep writing.


I liked storytelling, I liked books, but I wasn't necessarily attracted to writing my own back then. It was all about enjoying characters created by others, getting mind-blown by plot twists and letting the feels hit me where it's good. Until it came to a point that I felt that I was a "genius", that I had ideas that could be a best-selling story and I need to share it to the world. The ego of my child self... But let's say that's my first inspiration to write.

Let's call it "Inspiration number one".

Now we can go to number two.


2. Why am I still writing?

At some point in our writing journey, we'll begin to experience the struggles of connecting this scene to another, facing writer's block or having trouble keeping up with what was originally intended. Because of the hurdles I'm facing, I question inspiration number one. Where's the fun in this? Why can't I connect the scenes together? Why isn't this working like I've outlined? The characters are writing themselves! During this stage, I begin to question myself; Why am I STILL writing again?


One of the most helpful ways I was able to overcome this, is for me to find a writing community that isn't entirely all about swaps and exchange. This is another topic, I should probably dwell on another time. Going back, I was told that writing is a lonely career. But the thing is... it doesn't have to be. The further we reach to our manuscript, the lonelier it feels. The people we meet, our fellow writers, or probably readers, they will be the ones to answer this for us, reminding us that "hey, didn't you say you're writing for this reason?"


Sometimes we know the answer to it, but (I don't know, for some reason, based on my experience), it helped so much to hear it coming from someone else. Someone who genuinely means it to support us on this writing journey.




3. What am I writing?

What exactly are we writing? "I was inspired by this movie!", "This character is so dope, I want to write all about her!", "Yo, I have a brilliant idea of a new time traveling story!", and many more. We all know how we want to start our story, where we begin, how we want things to kick off, but do we know where it's heading?


Not saying plotter is better than pantser because we want to plan everything. It's more of, yes this is a wonderful idea but how much creative juices are we talking about to flesh this out as a story and not a drabble. I personally have over 100 ideas in my notepad, separated into folders with slight details for each (but don't be shy, I know you have a ton or so in yours too.) The thing is, it just sounds so good in my head but the day I actually have to write it, I hit that road block not knowing where to go next, or that sudden shift and I go off the tracks.


One of the things I found really effective for this is to establish to myself is that (1) I'm sticking with this genre, (2) this is how I want it to start and (3) this is the development I want for my characters. The rest will start brewing on its own towards an ending.


If I know what I wanna write, I know my objective and if I know my objective, I'm aware I need to look for relevant solutions to get these obstacles out of the way.


4. How far am I willing to go?

Here's a quick rundown of the possible things a writer has to do after finishing their first manuscript. Before you read further, I want to clarify that I'm not trying to scare you. There is a valid reason for this.


Well for one, there's this called draft one, draft two, so on and so forth. Which means, a writer might need to edit and revise their manuscript in x number of times before publishing their work (which for me took four drafts, I can't account for the timeline as I've been on and off with writing for the past ten years).


Honestly, editing isn't fun lol. So, just in case you don't know you have to go through this, now you know.


Another thing is the one they call "querying". The amount of patience and research to do is huge (although, that could be just me and my chosen underrated genre lol). I'm not gonna specify more into this, but to sum this experience: There's a lot of waiting time involved, sprinkled with managing time for research and keeping queries by batch, prepping the actual query requirements (which by the way, shockingly, it's harder to write blurb/synopsis/pitch than the actual manuscript-- at least for me).


Whether or not a writer goes for self-pub or trad-pub, the option to spend is still there and that is mostly for editors. Because the last thing we want is to publish our first book as a half-baked, unchecked, unready content for the whole world to read. I wouldn't want to imagine spending years for a wonderfully-crafted story, only to be bashed in the reviews because my indents are inconsistent, I have a typo or something. This is probably the only part of the investing process I'd recommend doing.


5. Who am I writing with?

In connection with number two, I think it's crucial to know how far we can go going through this journey alone or are we gonna need to stand side by side with another writer. One of the reasons I've been on-and-off with my writing mood is because at some point of my grind, I lose interest (like, abruptly) or I lose motivation, or I felt that I'm not writing a good enough story--not knowing that it's because I felt lonely. I have a wild imagination, have all these characters in my head, transport myself into the world I created but at the end of the day, my mind couldn't explain the loneliness this journey actually is.


What got me through the grind, without burning out or stopping, was the part when someone has been reading my story with genuine reaction feedback. Oh the joys I felt to read even just the slightest laugh, the faintest sorrow and the feels they told me they felt. It was everything.


It got better to find the right community fit for my needs. Things changed. I was writing once a week but then I'm writing daily, and now I'm on my way to writing book 2.


I believe no man is an island, no matter how vast one's imagination is. And there is no better company, than someone who's going through the writing journey with me.


So now, let's go back to the first part.

After reading the checklist, a slight glimpse into the future. How much time we spent, the investments we do, now you know all that. Ask yourself.


BEFORE I BEGIN MY WRITING JOURNEY, I NEED TO KNOW IF I REALLY WANT TO.

AFTER READING THIS, AM I READY TO TAKE ON THE JOURNEY (CHALLENGE) AND BECOME A WRITER?


There is no right or wrong answer. Just a certain answer, that you want or don't want to.




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