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The Seven Secrets: From Novice to Novelist - by Steve Manning

Regardless of the novel you want to write, there are seven elements you’ve got to have. Call them personality traits, work habits, tools, it really doesn’t matter. If you’ve got them, your work is going to be that much more rewarding and that much more successful. If you don’t have them, you’ve got to develop them.


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Get started.


The first one is… a mastery of output. If you haven’t written your book yet, the only difference between you and a published author is that they’ve written their book and you haven’t. They took the time to do it and you didn’t. So get that started first.

Write every day.


You’ve got to write each and every day. No exceptions unless you’re unconscious (you can still dictate if you’re in bed.) No, you’re not going to commit to writing for 30 minutes. You’re going to commit to writing at least x number of pages between 9:30 and 10:00. You pick the time and the number of pages. It’s an appointment with yourself that’s every bit as important as an appointment with dentist, business associate, customer or your child’s piano recital. Make it a keep it.


Stick to your start time.


The appointment has four critical elements to it. The start time tells you when to begin. If you don’t have a definite start time, you’ll never get started because there’s nothing forcing you to do so. Something else will always come up. Guaranteed. Even on a day when you have nothing else to do, you’ll get distracted by a simple paperclip on your desk or the pressing need to straighten the books on the shelf. This is the time you’ll start and you mean it.


Stick to your end time.


Next, you have an end time. At that time you’re moving on to something else. The big challenge here is that the first few times you do it, you won’t know how many pages you can actually produce in that amount of time. So you may reach the end of the appointment and not have written the required number of pages. Or, even better, you may have written more than enough pages, and still have 10 minutes left in the appointment. With my system, you know you’re writing 2/3 of a page every five minutes, so you can get it down pretty precisely. Always be pushing yourself to increase the number of pages you write during the writing period.


Set a page number goal.


The third critical element for a mastery of writing output is knowing the number of pages you’re going to write during that appointment. You’re not going to write until you finish that thought, or write until the hands of the clock have moved the required distance, you’re writing to produce those pages. So write them.

Don’t worry about quality, or skill, or story development, or characterization. Those are all factors you deal with elsewhere. You’re here solely to put out four pages. Whether they’re good or bad, frankly, is hardly important. You just have to get them done and done now. Initially it can look pretty daunting, but I assure you, it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think. Give yourself a few days of trying it, and you’ll be amazed at how effective you become.

 

Write as fast as you can.


Finally, write fast. You’re not there to mull and fret over every word. If you’re doing that, you had better increase the required output for the appointment, because you’re wasting time. I’m not talking about being frantic, or scribbling (if you’re using a pen) so fast that you can’t read your own handwriting when you go back later. I’m saying only that your writing must be constant, and relentless. Pick a relatively quick writing tempo and keep going. If you’ve done the required preparation work you’ll have not problem with content, or having the thoughts flow into your head quickly enough.

If, at the end of your writing appointment, you haven’t written the number of pages you set out to produce, don’t beat yourself up. Take a few seconds and ask yourself why. There’s always a simple logistical reason, and it has nothing to do with your writing ability or whether you’re a good or bad person.


Start afresh each day.


For the next writing appointment, make the adjustment and accomplish the objective. Don’t tell yourself you have to write an additional two pages to make up for yesterday’s shortfall. You’ll never be able to catch up and you’ll just become despondent. Start afresh every time.

 

About The Author


Steve Manning is a master writer showing thousands of people how they can write their book faster than they ever thought possible. Here's your free book-writing library, http://www.WriteABookNow.com/main.html.


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Read what past-students say about this course...


“I found the course informative, helpful and inspiring. Alex Smith was always available and quick to answer any questions; she was very supportive throughout. The course more than met my objectives. My overall experience with The Writers’  College was a very positive one. Now I truly feel I'm a writer.” Karin Noll, Write a Novel Course

“I enjoyed the course, learnt a lot and gained confidence in my writing. My tutor gave excellent guidance, she was very knowledgeable and very helpful.” llse van der Merwe, Write a Novel Course

“The experience on the course was catalytic for me. It was exceptional in every way. It was hugely rewarding, informative, supportive and fun. It did more than meet my objectives; it was a brilliant investment. Overall, this was an outstanding programme.” Grant Sieff, Write A Novel Course

“It was a fantastic course: very educational and easy to comprehend. Alex was a wonderful tutor. She was very supportive and inspired me to work harder and accomplish more. Deciding to do a writing course with the Writers’ College was the best educational choice I ever made.” Aileen Smith, Write a Novel Course

“The course material was brilliant! I found everything helpful and easily applicable to my own writing. I was extremely happy with the entire course. Alex is a wonderful lecturer! Her use of positive criticism was amazing. It helped me approach my editing in a different way. The support she gave me was priceless, it got me through the times when I thought the mountain of writing was too high to climb. I have so many things to say about her, but what I will say is: Thank you Alex! The course objective was a couple of chapters and twenty five thousand words. Three and a half months in, I had hit the mark already. Alex hinted that it would be a shame if I didn't finish my entire first draft of my manuscript before the end of the course. It was a tall order, but before the end I sat with a manuscript of hundred and seventeen thousand words. She helped me achieve above and beyond what I thought I was capable of. I'm happy to say that whatever made me stumble onto your college changed my life, and turned a small hope and dream into a reality.” Omri Pieterse Write a Novel Course


“It was a very positive and encouraging experience. Doing the course has made me much more confident and I now have faith in my ability. The experience with my tutor was excellent. Sonny marked my work often within 24 hours. Her feedback was clear, constructive and her advice was given at my pace. With every module, her advice was above and beyond what I anticipated. In areas where I struggled, particularly with formatting, Sonny gave me extra support. Overall it was a very rewarding experience.” Christine Wardle, The Write a Novel Course

“The course was fantastic, very professional, of high quality and I really learned a lot. It was well worth it! My experience with my tutor was very good - it was an honour to have Mike teach me as he knows the field very well.” Magdel Louw, Write a Novel Course

"It was an excellent experience. It was hard work but very satisfactory. I enjoyed every moment of writing and learning which says a lot for the course content, subject matter and support. Alex Smith was an absolutely incredible tutor; I could not have wished or asked for anyone better. The course absolutely met my objectives and more. I have completed three courses with The Writers' College now. My initial objective was to learn to write; I needed to put my experiences and stories into writing. I had no idea where to begin or what to look out for. I started with the Basics of Creative Writing Course, then took Advanced Creative Writing and then Novel Writing. It was a magnificent journey. Thank you very much.” Danie Markgraaff, Write a Novel Course

“It's ironic but words really can't describe the phenomenal experience. From the help and support of Koos and Nichola to my tutor Alex, it has been sublime and life changing. Alex is a rockstar. She is amazing and supportive and honestly she is the reason that I'm taking the follow-up course in September. For years I wanted to do a course but financially I couldn't manage. That's why I want to say thank you to Mavis Bleazard for the bursary that allowed one of my greatest dreams to come true and to the College and Alex for the amazing warmth and support.” Mark Scheepers, Write a Novel Course

“I didn't know anything about fiction writing when I started. I was advised to do the basic course and take it from there. I took the risk; if it wasn't for the quality of the course, building up from modules 1 to 12 and text instalments, I wouldn't have been successful. Alex was always only an email away to respond to issues; sometimes it felt as though I was her only pupil. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have passed the course, never mind with distinction. It absolutely exceeded my expectations. Now I am confident I will get a book published within a year. It was the most creative and satisfying study experience at a professional level I have done for at least ten years. Thank you.” Louis Wiid, Write a Novel Course

“I gave a 100% and got back 500%. It exceeded all my expectations. Alex Smith is an exceptional tutor. From Module 1 she had her finger on the pulse and understood my creative vision. I was extremely impressed by her professionalism and depth of knowledge. Not only did I grow in skill and confidence but I was able to learn on many levels, which made it all the more enjoyable. I owe you Alex! The course met all my objectives. I've been wanting to write a novel for 30 years and could never get further than a couple of rough notes; now I have 48 000 words under my belt and plan to have a finished manuscript by June 2013. It has been an exciting journey, and I'm extremely satisfied with what I've achieved. Thank you! I wish I'd discovered The Writers' College years ago.” Diane Cursons, Write a Novel Course

“If you want to improve your writing skills, The Writers’ College is the place to go. The tutors are friendly and they treat you as a real writer. The course material was informative and clear! definitely a plus. Alex was so patient with me; I learnt skills that enabled me to rework my entire novel and maybe publish it in the near future. Alex inspired me when I was feeling down-and-out and I have taken a lot of advice with me. I will most certainly invite her to my first signing (laugh out loud). The course met my objectives; my finished novel was 60,000 words and I am still rewriting it again and again.” Michelle Randall, Write a Novel Course

“The course was hard work but well worth it. It was an emotional roller coaster ride; it tested my creative abilities and self-discipline. Mike gave excellent feedback. I think he expected me to write a crime thriller while I wanted to write a novel about crime and things other than those found in a conventional thriller, i.e. how the protagonist grew psychologically and about relationships in general. I had done the Short Story Writing Course through the College which was most successful; I have subsequently had a few short stories published. I am better at that than writing a novel! The fact that my skills need honing is not the course's fault; it taught me the necessary tools I needed to write a novel. Overall, it was an enjoyable learning curve.” Ann Hoffman, Write a Novel Course

“The Writers’ College offers first class courses with first class lecturers. I was guided step by step throughout the writing process and the various techniques and genres that go into writing a novel were explained. I liked the assignments in particular and the clear structure of the course. I was also impressed by the information provided about the publishing procedure and the many links to take the manuscript further. Alex Smith was a wonderfully supportive lecturer; without her constant encouragement I would not have finished the course.” Elizabeth MacDonald, Write a Novel Course

“The course was insightful. Alex was a great help; she gave very constructive feedback.” Tjaart Fourie, Write a Novel Course

“My experience was excellent; I learnt a lot from the course. I finally feel confident that I am able to complete a manuscript for publication. Louis was an excellent tutor. He managed to keep me on the right track as I have the tendency to sometimes lose focus. I feel my writing has improved a lot with his guidance. It was an excellent experience and I was assisted by very efficient people.” Erika Frouws, Write a Novel Course

“I recommend this course to anyone who wants to discover if they have talent to write. I learnt a lot more than I expected. After doing the course, I am more confident in knowing where my writing career is headed and which areas of my writing I need to work on. I have a greater understanding of the mechanics of Novel Writing. I couldn't have asked for a better tutor than Henrietta; she knows her subject. She conveyed feedback in an easy to understand manner and in a very gentle way made me aware of my weaker points, where I can improve, and of course, where my stronger points are. I have gained valuable knowledge just from her comments and in the same breath she has opened my eyes to how much I still have to learn.” Ezelle Louw, Write a Novel Course.

“I have learnt so many lessons while doing the course. I think one of the most brilliant tutors there is teaching on this subject. Alex was so warm and honest and gave me freedom to express myself. Her comments were always honest and helpful. I feel like I can write because of the Writers College and Alex Smith, it is an experience I will carry with me forever.” Chantelle, Write a Novel Course

"I loved the course! My tutor, Alex, was absolutely amazing, with her advice, encouragement, feedback. I did not expect such thorough feedback, so to say the least I was pleasantly surprised. I can highly recommend it and will advise any candidate to enroll and experience the care one gets." Deks Dekenah, Write a Novel Course

"The course was presented very professionally. Each module was clearly explained and very informative. It literally seemed to cover the most important aspects of writing a novel, and some other aspects that I had never thought of. I was pleasantly surprised by the input of my tutor. I found her comments really helpful, and constructive. I feel that with the ongoing commentary from the tutor throughout each module, I was able to stay focused on the different aspects (character-building; scene-setting etc). The module notes are a wonderful record which I can refer to at any time in the future as I continue to write. I am really glad that I took the plunge, and particularly that The Writers' College was the correct route to take. I have learnt a lot." Rosalynd Els, Write a Novel Course, Charlotte Randall

“Alex is one of the friendliest, helpful people I have ever met. She NEVER made me feel inferior or broke down my writing. She helped me find my voice and encouraged me to use it to the best of my ability. I never expected an esteemed Author to treat me with such love. I will be forever indebted to her and her guidance. The most important thing I have learned from Alex- Rewrite it!

Alex was always honest and her guidance is something I will always cherish. She is realistic and enthusiastic. She made me feel like her only student and she gave me her full attention. Alex had the ability to inspire me when I felt that my story was heading straight for the dustbin. I learned so much during this course and the writing experience is something I would never have picked up in a classroom. The learning material was always honest and never boring. I enjoyed getting a new module and doing the exercises.” Annabel Schoeman, Write a Novel Course

“Alex Smith was a fantastic tutor. Her feedback was always helpful and encouraging and the suggestions and notes she gave were always applicable to the challenges I was facing. I could not have asked for a better tutor. Alex was always available to assist me and always gave more than was required in terms of support and feedback.” Janine Patel, Write a Novel Course

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your excellence. Writing a novel was one of the biggest dreams I've ever had and The Writer's College made it a reality. You made me challenge myself and in turn, I found an endless pool of creativity within which I never knew existed. I would recommend your College to anyone who is serious about writing. Even to those who already completed their first manuscripts. You will be surprised what you will learn in the novel writing course. Once again, thank all of you! You guys are amazing!” Daubert Vermeulen, Write a Novel Course

"Alex Smith was an absolute joy to work with. Her feedback was both extremely encouraging and honest. Her guidance was truly amazing and essential for me to learn everything there is to know about the wonderful world of novel writing. The fact that she is a published writer is great because we as aspiring writers get the sense that she understands all our fears and thus is able to help us through it. Thanks to her, I have found the right avenue for my writing aspirations. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this course to anyone who asks." Marcio Goncalves, Write a Novel Course

“Working with Alex Smith has been an absolute pleasure. The insights and suggestions have proved invaluable and each assessment gave me energy and motivation to get stuck into my novel again. Alex has an incredible way with words and can even turn the negative into something intensely motivational! This was a fantastic course and I enjoyed it immensely. The biggest draw-card was the one-on-one tutoring from my mentor, which was incredibly helpful, positive, honest and motivating.” Caroline Greyling, Write a Novel Course

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“My lecturer was Diane and I absolutely loved her. She was extremely motivating – I’m already having withdrawals. She is very insightful and I felt that she understood me and what I was trying to do with my manuscript. I loved working with her. Her feedback was always spot-on and she was very approachable. I think you guys are going an excellent job. The support is great.” Lisl McLachlan, Write a Novel Course

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“The course was very well presented, easy to follow and very helpful. I feel that I have learnt a substantial amount, and that my writing has improved drastically. Henrietta has been a pleasure to deal with. She was enormously helpful in each of the modules, and I feel that I have a much broader understanding of what it means to be a writer now than I ever did. She is inspiring and manages to critique in a manner which does not offend.” Michelle Marais, Write a Novel Course

"The course content is excellent as it provides very useful writing exercises but encourages you to write your novel at the same time. I like the fact that the emphasis is not on personal introspective analysis. Diane provided invaluable advice and support. I can honestly say that without the course and Diane's incredible support and input, my manuscript would not have been written. I have enjoyed the experience and I feel that my writing has improved substantially." Hazel Carlstein, Write a Novel Course

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