WRITING: HOW TO MENTALLY PREPARE YOURSELF
I’ve always related writing a novel to Tolkien’s character, Bilbo Baggins. He is just one little guy, and I mean really little, in a wide, wide world. He goes on an epic journey across Middle Earth for and with dwarfs that don’t even know his name. Not once does he give up. He perseveres through ever bump and crack in the road. And at the end, as Gandalf predicted, he had a story or two to tell.
You, the writer, are a singular person in a world that doesn’t know you. Your journey is your novel, the dwarfs are your characters, the bumps in the road are your failures. But at the end of it all, like Bilbo, you will have a story to tell, and one that you will be proud of.
But, before you reach the end, or before you even start the journey, you have to mentally prepare yourself for what is ahead. Writing a novel is not easy. It takes time, determination, perseverance and will power.
I’m not talking about the structure of your novel or the fine intricate details of your story, my friends. No, I am talking about the wonders of your brain and imagination, and how you can mentally prepare them to write your novel.
WHY ARE YOU WRITING THIS STORY?
This is an important one. As a writer, your story should be important to you, and what makes this story so important is why you are writing it. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the story about?
- Why are you writing this story?
- What drew you to this story?
- What is so important about this story?
- What message does this story have that you connect with?
- Does the world need to hear this story? Why?
Asking yourself these question prior to writing the story will help you connect with it on a more interment level and allow yourself to prepare for the novel planning process. Write down your answers and keep that sheet of paper as a reminder. There will come a time during your writing process that you will scream at your computer or paper, and want to give up. Don’t do that. Instead, look at why you are writing this story, and help yourself mentally get back on track.
WHO ARE YOU WRITING IT FOR?
This is the other big one, my fellow writers. The who is just as important as the why. Now, when I refer to the ‘who’ I don’t necessarily mean your audience. Of course, that is something that you definitely need to focus on in the novel planning process. The who I am talking about is more personal. Answer these questions:
- Am I writing this novel for myself? Why?
- Am I writing this novel for a family member? Why?
- Am I writing this novel for a friend or partner? Why?
- Why is it so important that I write this novel for myself or this person?
When I wrote my first novel, Unspoken Words, I wrote it with a goal in mind. It wasn’t to make lots of money, nor was it to get published. I didn’t write it to get a ‘big name’, nor did I write it to even kick start my career off as an author. So why did I write it then?
I wrote it because it’s my Nan’s life story, and she is the most inspirational person (apart from my Mum) in my life. At the time of the novel planning process, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I wrote the novel as a way to capture her life, for both myself, my Mum, and my Nan, so that a part of her would always be with me. Now, I want to share her story with all of you, so that you can learn and find inspiration from her story.
Not every story need to be written with the hopes of getting published or making loads of money. Find the deeper meaning, and that will help you mentally prepare yourself to keep going with this project.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE?
What do you hope to achieve? How many times have you gone out shopping and you run into one of your Nan’s frail friends? The first question they ask you is ‘what are you doing with your life?’ and the second is ‘What do you want to do after that? What do you hope to achieve?’
I’ve always found it to be an annoying question, but it’s a truthful question, and when mentally preparing yourself to write a novel, this is a question that has to be answered. At the end of the day, you have to have an end goal. Now, when I say ‘end goal’, I don’t mean do you want to be published or not? There are a lot of different questions to ask yourself when wondering what you hope to achieve. So, my friends, as yourself this:
- How many words would you like to write a day?
- How many chapters do you want to complete in a week?
- How long do you want the word count to be at the completion of your novel?
- What time frame do you want to write the novel in?
- Do you want to be published, or go self-publishing?
- How many people do you want to inspire with your work?
These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself when mentally preparing to write a novel. Remember, there are no wrong answers. Your goals and achievements are your own and are just as important as anyone else’s. Stick to them, and again, write these down as a reminder when times get tough.
Okay, so you’ve answered the ‘why’ and the ‘who’, as well as what you hope to achieve. Well done, that was the easy part! Committing to writing a novel is by far the hardest part of the writing process. If you are going to write a novel, then my friends, you actually have to mean it. You have to make time. You have to focus. You have to have determination. And most importantly, you have to finish it. The cold hard fact is that if you are not committed, you are not going to make it.
So, how do you stay committed, you may be asking yourself? With a few simple steps and reminders, it’s actually easier than you think:
- Tape those reminders above: why, who, and what you hope to achieve, to a wall where you can see them. Remind yourself why you are doing this.
- Create a schedule. Make time each week to write, and put everything else aside.
- Join a writing group. Peers and fellow writers are a great way to stay motivated.
- Read! Reading other authors books keeps you inspired and will push you to want to write.
- MY TIP: Listen to inspirational music. Guaranteed every time it will make you want to write.
DON’T EXPECT TO MUCH OF YOURSELF
Hate to lay it on you, my friends, but in the beginning, none of you is going to be J.K. Rowling or George. R.R. Martin. That doesn’t mean to say that you aren’t a brilliant and unique writer, it means that you shouldn’t expect too much of yourself in the beginning.
Your first draft is more than likely going to be pretty shitty, and that’s okay! Every first draft is because technically your novel isn’t finished. You will find spelling and grammatical mistakes, plot holes, character arcs you don’t like, story arcs that don’t work. This DOES NOT mean you are a bad writer; it means that there is room for improvement to make an even greater novel.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you, as a write, are unique. Don’t write how someone else would, or how someone else would edit. Write how you want to write, and edit how you want to edit. Like I’ve stated before, there is no right or wrong way of writing a novel. Mentally prepare yourself for how you want to write, not how others do.
If Bilbo Baggins did everything he was told, then I believe his story would have been very different in the end.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE FEAR OF FAILURE
Everyone has a deeply pitted fear of failure, and of course, you do. Humans are very competitive beings, and the matter of the fact is we like to win and try to live up to societies expectation of being perfect. I will tell you this, if you are mentally preparing yourself to write the perfect novel, then I suggest you stop and rethink. You are not going to write a perfect novel, no one will.
You will fail and fall down numerous times before, during, and after you write your novel. Not only will you fail, but you will experience the fear of failing:
- What if I don’t finish my novel?
- What if I don’t reach what I hoped to achieve?
- What if I hate what I have written?
- What if it’s not what I wanted the novel to turn out like?
- What if I do finish it and I fail after?
There are endless ‘what ifs’, but you shouldn’t base your entire writing experience nor what you believe it will be like on ‘what ifs’. My advice is to live in the moment and enjoy your writing. If you fail, work out what went wrong and fix it, learn from the mistake so you don’t make it next time. Failure does not lead to giving up or the notion that you are not good enough. Failure means that you learn and become a stronger and better writer.
My friends, you are not the only writer going through mental preparation to sell your soul to the dedication of your book. There are countless writers out there that have been or are currently in your situation. Talk to them, get to know them and see how they mentally prepared to write their novel.
For myself, I did a lot of research into my Nan’s history. I’m the type of person that has to have everything laid out before me before I start writing, so my novel planning process takes time. For others, it might be different.
Something to take away from this: fellow writers are not your enemies nor your competition, they are your friends. The only competition is with yourself, and how you commit to your novel.
I ALSO HAVE SOMETHING AWESOME FOR YOU!!
Mentally preparing yourself is super important for the writing process. You need to make sure you know what you’re jumping
into, why you are writing this novel, and who you want to tell it to. I mean, check out all
those questions above YOU can ask yourself. So I made it easy for you,
and created a FREE WORKBOOK so you can answer
All finished. Let’s chat!
Congrats, fellow writers. Mentally preparing yourself may seem useless upon first thought, but it can really prepare you for your writing journey ahead. Let me know if my Writing: How to Mentally Prepare treated you well, and if you think there is anything missing that you would like to learn about.
Hit me up in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!