The 4 Best Writing Lessons This Novelist Can Provide
Read and digest these writing lessons, so you don’t have to spend years writing novels to learn them for yourself.
These writing lessons are hard-won, so pay attention.
My writing career started in 2016. I got an itch to write a novel, and my first one was self-published in June 2018. Since then, I’ve written five more and am in the process of writing my seventh.
I started writing for blogs when the pandemic hit, and my full-time gig shuttered. I wanted to bring my expertise to a new arena. Writing is writing, right?
I was wrong. Very wrong.
What’s the difference?
For starters, my novels are fiction. It’s a very different beast than writing non-fiction.
Also, there’s the length factor. In a novel, I have 50k-100k words to tell a story. In blog posts, I have to get straight to the point.
The following writing lessons have carried over well and allowed me to continue my professional development in a new form of writing. Let me pass them on to you.
Writing lessons I learned from writing novels.
The necessity of discipline
Discipline actually consists of two related writing lessons: routine and schedule.
The writing routine is where you write, what you write on, and the music you listen to while you work.
It can include what you’ve eaten before, and whether or not you chew gum.
In short, it’s the stuff that happens while you write.
The writing schedule is the times you will write, and the amount of content you will produce.
There’s the daily schedule, where you determine how many minutes/hours you will write.
Then there’s the content schedule or deadline. Your content schedule can be broken into chunks or kept as one big due date.
When writing novels, I stick to a word count schedule. For content marketing, I stick to a plan for individual posts.
Let the subconscious take over.
There’s a certain point when you need to step away and let the background processes of your mind work.
Sleep is an excellent tool for this. Exercise is also.
Trying to force a solution by brute force will end up producing poor results. By taking time away from the project, you give your subconscious time to come up with a solution.
Stepping away was one of the most challenging writing lessons for me to learn.
One tip for productivity addicts like myself out there: you can work on another project while you let the background processes come up with connections.
So don’t be afraid to juggle multiple writing projects at once.
The importance of editing
Editing novel services come in two main categories: developmental editing and copy editing. Both are 100% worth the cost.
Developmental editing is when an editor goes over the structure of the story and makes sure it works.
Copy editing is when an editor searches for grammatical mistakes and spelling errors.
When I was going to publish my first book, I hired a developmental editor and thought I had done enough. Thankfully, I had a good friend read my work before I published, and he convinced me to pay for copy edits.
Now, I won’t publish without them. Out of all the writing lessons, this was the most expensive one to learn.
It’s not necessary to pay a copy editor for every blog post. But there should be some sort of self-edit process involved.
Here at Algorithmic Global, we use a combination of Grammarly and exchange with other team members. This process helps clarify our message for maximum effectiveness and eliminates most standard usage errors.
The power of outlining
The use of an outline has been the most significant change over my career as a novelist. It’s been the most difficult of the writing lessons for me to implement, but now I won’t consider doing it any other way.
My first book had no outline. To put it mildly, the editor could tell. Fast forward to my third book, and I threw a quick outline together. It helped keep the story focused but didn’t provide much detail.
Now? Each outline takes almost as long as writing the novel.
I know all about the characters, the symbols, and, most importantly, the theme of each book.
Having these planned ahead of time makes it easier to write an impactful story.
Here’s my great insight: the theme of a novel is the same as the keyword in a blog post.
It needs to be decided on beforehand and kept in mind throughout the outlining/writing process.
Outline to a comfortable level of granularity. The more you have in the outline, the faster the writing will become.
A good outline eliminates significant decisions from production. The words just need to be put down on the blank page.
Does it matter what time of day I write?
The time of day doesn’t matter, as long as it’s the same time, every day that you sit down to write. If you take anything from the writing lessons above, it’s the power of consistency!
Of course, if there are life factors involved (such as kids), just get the words out any way possible.
I prefer to write in the mornings. I go to bed early every night, then wake up at 4:45, so I can get as much writing time before noon.
Try out your schedule, and don’t be afraid to optimize.
Should I write every day?
Writing every day isn’t a requirement, but it does speed up the learning process.
Daily writing is one of the standard writing lessons given by writers. Until you learn what works for you, my advice is to write as often as you can.
I write every day but Sundays.
Is writing a novel easier than writing a blog post?
Neither one is easier. They’re just different.
A lot of a novel is setting descriptions and world-building. There are considerations about the motivations of different characters I have to keep in mind.
Blog posts have to offer information in an easy-to-read format. My goal is to grab attention with the headline and keep that attention momentum until the final word.
I know one thing: writing a novel takes a LOT longer!
The learning curve.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows when I transitioned to writing more blog posts. I had a lot to learn.
There’s a different cadence to blog posts. There are structural considerations, too. There are headings to develop, headlines to optimize, and photos/videos to include.
I’ve had to learn about search engine optimization (SEO) and implement those lessons as I went.
I’d relate it to stitching a parachute while in free-fall.
And the exciting part? I’m still learning!
One last writing lesson.
I lied. I have five writing lessons. But this one didn’t come from the novels; it’s something I learned writing blog posts.
Research your keywords. Check search volume and investigate the top blog posts that rank for those keywords.
This research will provide direction and clarity when you create your post to compete with those who show up for the keyword.
Do you have any questions about any of these writing lessons? Reach out to the team at Algorithmic Global via our contact page. Our SEO and copywriting team would love to hear from you!