Do you want to write a novel but don’t know where to start?

Six tips to help beginners find inspiration and the time to write.

Let’s be honest. Writing a novel is hard work. It can be time consuming, frustrating and painful, but it can also be rewarding, worthwhile and exciting. We all have commitments; spouses, children, family, friends, work, study, pets, and that rarely leaves us time for hobbies, let alone writing a novel. But it can be done. If there is a story spinning in your mind and you want to see it develop into a novel, then you’re going to have to commit to hard work. But that doesn’t mean the hard work can’t be fun. 

First, you need to find inspiration to get your story evolving.
Here are my tips.

1. Listen to music. 
Music is powerful. Music creates emotion. My advice is to listen to music that relates to the genre of your writing. If you want to write an epic fantasy, listen to film soundtracks such as Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. If you want to write science-fiction with action scenes, listen to The Matrix. You will be amazed by the scenes that develop in your mind simply by listening to music. The best thing about finding inspiration through music is that you can do other things too; the washing, going for a walk, cleaning the house, catching the train. The options are unlimited. 

2. Take a notebook with you everywhere you go. 
Inspiration can strike when you least expect it. Perhaps a friend says something incredibly funny during a catch up over coffee. Write it down. This could be perfect for one of your characters. Maybe a colleague tells you about an extremely embarrassing blind date they went on. Write it down. This could be brilliant content for your romantic comedy. See where I’m going with this? Inspiration can strike from the events and people around you. 

3. People watch.
People watch but be subtle about it. You don’t want to creep anyone out. Why do I suggest this? Everyone has different mannerisms. Write down what you see. Does someone look nervous at the local shopping centre? How are they acting? The gestures, behaviours, habits and quirks are what make people interesting. Applying these traits is what ultimately makes your characters realistic and appealing to readers. 

4. Read. Read. Read.
Let’s say you want to write a mystery crime thriller. How do you go about it? The answer is read. Read novels that relate directly to your genre. What are the characters like? How does the mystery evolve? Can you easily identify where the story is going? Or is the ending a complete surprise? Analyse the story, its structure, its characters, its pace, its point of view. Can you adapt this method in your own writing? The answer is yes, because writing is learning. No one will ever be a decent writer if they never study what other authors have achieved. 

5. Watch films that relate to your genre. 
You’ve been up since 6am, you’ve worked all day, you’ve completed an hour of exercise, and you’ve just finished cooking dinner and washing the dishes. It’s 8pm and your exhausted. You can’t possibly write. You can’t possibly read. You just want to relax. Watching films is an excellent way to unwind. Watch movies that reflect your genre of writing. Concentrate on the story. Is it a three act structure; beginning, middle and end? Is this similar to the way authors structure plot in the novels that you read? Can you apply this method in your own writing? The answer is yes, because great stories can be told through any medium. 

6. You’ve found inspiration. Now it’s time to write. 
The first lesson – be kind to yourself. We’ve established that everyone has work, study and family commitments. Choose a time that will strictly be your writing time, and make it realistic. If you know you don’t have an hour to spare every day for writing, then don’t commit to it. Apply thirty minutes for the day, or an hour for the week, or one day of every month. Find what works for you and stick to it. Writing is a slow process, so be realistic with what you can achieve. And never be angry or disappointed with yourself if you don’t know how to start writing or suffering from writer’s block. If inspiration isn’t working for you, then use that time to do something else that relates to your writing. Read a book, look at author websites, read up on writing tips online and on social media. There is a wealth of information out there to help you. And you never know, this may be the inspiration you need to get started.