8 Things You Must Do BEFORE Buckling Down to Write that Novel

It happens all the time. People read a crappy novel and think, hey, I can do better than that. A fraction of those people have an idea for a plot that potential readers might find interesting—if it’s raining. And a Tuesday. Because people love reading on Tuesdays, especially if it’s less than seventy degrees and the wind is coming from due north.


A fraction of that fraction of would-be authors decide to sit down and plot the idea out. A fraction of that fraction of that fraction is able to fend off the inevitable self-doubt monsters whispering that the book is going to suck, and churn out a reasonable first draft. And, a fraction of that fraction of that fraction, of THAT fraction is able to outlast the procrastinatory distractions offered by the interwebs, members of their real-life family, and pesky employment obligations to COMPLETE a (somewhat) viable book.

1nv0qjIf that book happens to be bumped into on Amazon or *gasp* picked up by someone in a bookstore, it has a one in one hundred (okay, thousand) shot at being purchased, and even less of a chance of being enjoyed . . . by anyone. Because you know, how often does the wind come in from the north while the skies unleash a bit of rain on a Tuesday?

Having nearly accomplished the arduous task of completing a novel myself, I have compiled a list of the top 8 things you should do BEFORE buckling down to write your first book.

And hey, in advance, you are welcome.


1)     Write your idea down on paper with a new, freshly sharpened pencil. It doesn’t matter it is has an eraser, because your idea is golden manna from heaven. You will make no mistakes here, friend. Be as vague or specific as you like. Already know how the book is going to end? Great. Write that down too. Look closely at your work. See the idea before you in all its splendor. Imagine the feelings of pride and accomplishment you will experience when you see this glorious idea come to light in the form of a book with your name on it.

2)     Make five copies. Smell the paper. Repeat the words, I am an author, over and over in your mind. Own that shit.

3)     Lift the first copy of your beautiful idea from the others, and crumple the paper into a ball. paper-1484048_960_720Listen to the sound of the paper crunching in your fist. Now, go outside. Light a match. And set your idea on fire.

4)    Drive the second copy of your idea to a farm. A hog farm is ideal. Rip your idea up into little tiny pieces. Rub the fragments of your idea all over your hair and your face. Take a deep breath. Inhale the scent of manure around you, and drop the idea into the slop pale to be consumed by the pigs.

5)      Rip the third copy of your idea into five perfectly even parts and mail a piece to Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Mary Poppins, and just for kicks, one to Satan himself. Never check your mailbox again in case the idea is accidentally sent back.

6)     Pack a bag. Do not tell anyone where you are going in case they (foolishly) try to stop you. Go for a walk. Do not stop until you come to a volcano. Drop the fourth copy in.nuclear-2123685_960_720

7)       Take the fifth copy to the ocean. If you live somewhere like Manitoba (as I once did), a lake will do. If you live in the Sahara, have someone Fedex you a f^%@ing conch shell, all right? The point is to listen to the sound of the water. Be at one with the liquid around you.  Tune yourself into the miraculous substance that first birthed life onto our planet. Now, fold your idea into a paper boat, whisper, “It’s not f&@!ng worth it,” and set your idea free.

8)     IF at the end of all of this, you find the desire to flesh out your idea in the form of a book is still too impossible to ignore, take the original piece of paper on which you wrote your perfect, unspoiled, pristine, theoretically block-busting idea and look at it closely. Bask in the perfection of your penmanship and the wisdom behind your prose. Tape it to your computer. KNOW THAT COMPLETING YOR BOOK WILL NOT BE EASY.  But, you are a rockstar, on the cusp of greatness. Because, even if your novel does suck, it never sells, and people leave their homes in droves for the sole purpose of making fun of you, when you finish you will have accomplished something that only a very small percentage of humans on earth have done. Writing a book.

And that’s pretty fucking awesome.

May the Gods be with you.


57 thoughts on “8 Things You Must Do BEFORE Buckling Down to Write that Novel

  1. Great post Jenny … still got my original piece of paper … gone off at tangents from time to time … but keep getting drawn back to it … now working with a free-lance editor to get the book out this year. And I just know I’m going to love yours … Eric.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. LOVE this! Also I would add to my list standing on my head naked with a sixth copy in my mouth murmuring favorite nursery rhymes, because the best things before sitting down for a long spell to write always seem to hover around ridiculous…but funny.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. So, how’s the book writing thing going?

    Seriously, I worry about you a little when I read stuff like this. Not enough to do anything, but enough to mention it. Deep breaths. Everything will be fine. The finish line is in sight.

    (Great post!)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hilarious! I seem to go back in forth between wanting to erect a monument for my achievements and looking to book a stay in an asylum. Today is a monument kind of day but who know what to tomorrow will be.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Oh dear lord, this is SO fucking true. I would add another step, though. After you have written the damn thing, repeat all the steps above before you a) farm it out to agents/publishers or b) decide, “Hey I can self-publish, no problem!” If, after repeating the steps above with your manuscript (and pickling your liver via bourbon), then you can publish the beast and start a whole new journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reblogging, Dan, or I’d have missed this bit of cleverness.

      But I have REALLY bad news for the American writers out there. Agent Orange has pledged to outlaw both Tuesdays and rain — already too many ideas to keep up with in America, it seems, and his alternative facts fairies are dropping like flies. (Plus, anything longer than a tweet is superfluous anyway – only nerds and fake news reporters read more than a sentence or two).

      The rider to the law will be a mandate that all tweets must be read immediately, anything from that white house he doesn’t live in must be forwarded, and anyone who retweets anything anti-orange will loose their health care coverage. (Oops – superfluous – but at least consistent, which is scary all by itself).

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Ha, ha. I loved this. I would definitely want to read the book of someone who went through all that for the love of the idea. That would make them a special person even if the book isn’t a best-seller or a seller at all. 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Because, even if your novel does suck, it never sells, and people leave their homes in droves for the sole purpose of making fun of you, when you finish you will have accomplished something that only a very small percentage of humans on earth have done. Writing a book.”

    Today I finished mine, after three years´writing. It feels so… (chose the adverb you like best).
    Thanks, Jen! Haha, you rock!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ha! Very nice! I agree wholeheartedly that you must have real passion for your story or it will never materialize. I just finished mine, and it feels good knowing its there, full and complete.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. somehow, I get the impression that writing the fabulously successful novel is less likely than flipping a quarter and having it land 10 times in a row, on its EDGE! Love the passion, dedication and talent. .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Niiiice. Inspirational. My favorite line: “…even if your novel does suck, it never sells, and people leave their homes in droves for the sole purpose of making fun of you, when you finish you will have accomplished something that only a very small percentage of humans on earth have done. Writing a book.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ‘A rock star on the cusp of greatness’, not today unfortunately, I’m taking the dog out for a walk instead. Thanks for following my blog I hope you enjoy it, I look forward to checking out more of your work in future.


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