The author blog of C. J. Ivory

Tinkerer with words. Dresser-Upper. Adorer of Steampunk and VictoriaNoir fiction. Occasional Lawgineer.

January 9, 2011

So You Want to Write a Novel: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard...

Welcome to my new feature, So You Want to Write a Novel

In this edition, I'm going to eschew the usual information about plot, characters, genre, etc, and focus on something much more fundamental:

Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard... aka BICHOK.

Q: So, how do I become a writer?
A: You write.
Q: Haha, no, seriously, I really want to write a novel. How do I do it?
A: Write.
Q: Yes, but, what are the tricks to writing a publishable book?
A: Write. Every day. That's tricky enough to start off with, believe me.

If you, Gentle Reader, want to become a novelist - published or unpublished - there is no better tip than this simple advice above. After all, you will never hold your finished manuscript in your hands if you don't write it. (Once you have your first draft completed, then you can worry about silly little things like a coherent plot and believable characters. we'll cover this all later.)

The problem is that the simplest advice is often the hardest to follow: stop biting your nails. Eat better. Exercise more. Life gets in the way - and when it comes to writing, that is no different for published, career authors than it is for the first time novelist.

So how does a writer get around to it?

She commits to "BICHOK time" - a certain amount of time each day where she sits in front of the PC and just writes. It might be a defined hour, such as the Golden Hour after the toddler's finally nodded off, or just whenever she can squeeze in a BICHOK session. Many writers find it easier to measure their BICHOK time by a word count - for example, on one of my online writer's forums, we aim for at least 500 words per day.

However you do it, it's about getting into the habit. After all, the average length of a novel is about 80,000-100,000 words. Those words aren't going to write themselves, even if you've been super busy at work or have had the weekend from hell.

And what should you write, during these magical BICHOK sessions, Gentle Reader? Well, your novel would be the first choice, of course. But really, anything will do: a short story, a detailed description of the hottie who works at your local indie cafe, an epic poem about William the Conqueror, a newspaper obituary for a fictional character... try these writing prompts from Writer's Digest, for more inspiration.

Another way to encourage yourself is to take part in short fiction competitions. Many writers' websites offer short-fiction competitions, in which writers can enter drabbles (100 words), shortfic or flashfic (up to 1000 words) based on a given prompt. Because these competitions have entry deadlines, you'll have an even more compelling reason to put in that BICHOK time! If you'd like to give it a go, visit participating writer blogs The Chrysalis Experiment and The Writeaholic's Blog.

So, Gentle Reader - how many words did you write today?

Ever slaving over a hot keyboard,

Charlotte xxx


Trisha said...

This is why I love NaNoWriMo - it's all about Butt In Chair :D

Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

Oh, thanks for reminding me - I will also add a link in here to the Nano site :)

muso-blog-hog said...

It's as basic and simple as BICHOK . I got that message loud and clear ~~ thanks !!

Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

Yep! BICHOK is the foundations upon which we will build our Cathedrals :) But it's amazing how often potentially fantastic writers are thwarted in their ambitions, simply by not making a commitment to write everyday.