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,

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