1) Find something you enjoy writing with. Some people like to type direct into their computer. Some like to scribble with a biro on scraps of envelopes. Personally, I like a old-fashioned dipping pen and posh letter paper. You should try all kinds of different ways of writing until you find one you actually enjoy. If you like the mechanics of writing, you’re likely to do it more.
2) If, like me, you have to squeeze writing in between actual day job, housework and so on, put aside at least two times a week for writing. It should be two times, because if you set aside one time, and something happens to prevent you writing, you’ve missed writing for an entire week. Two sessions a week, and you know you’ll get another session in that week if you miss one.
3) Make sure you have all your supplies. Make sure you have ink, pen and paper. You don’t want to have to run around searching for a pen when you have the best idea you ever had and are desperate to get it written.
4) Also make sure that you have a template set up ready to type into before you start to type up your manuscript. Research how a manuscripts should be set up – I use a double-spaced courier font, with wide margins, with a header with my name, name of the story and page number. Again, you don’t want to be messing around trying to figure out how to add page numbers when you really want to write.
5) Leave your working manuscript and pen out all the time. If you put your work away, you’ll forget to work on it, or just not be bothered to get it out. I keep pen and paper and my current story on a desk in the corner of my living room – it’s always there for when I’m ready to write. And I’m constantly reminded that it’s there to work on.
6) Near your writing space, stick up a bit of paper or a whiteboard or blackboard with the names of your characters, any major plot points you must include, and any themes you want to illustrate in your book. Otherwise you’ll forget a character half way through, only discover this when you re-read it and then have to find a way to either write them out and re-write whole sections to include them. Like I did.
7) It’s perfectly okay to start writing with no clear idea of where your story is going or what your characters are going to do. Not everything has to be planned in advance. Sometimes you don’t discover what’s going to happen until you actually write it. (But if you do prefer to plan everything in advance, that’s good too. But don’t feel you have to).
8) The first draft does not have to be perfect. It’s just the bare bones. It’s enough just to get words and ideas and plot down on paper. It can be polished and shaped and refined later. Even the grammar and spelling can be corrected later. Don’t agonise over your book at this point.
Does that help? I hope it does. All these helped me get that first book written, much to my surprise, as I was the kind of person who never finished anything longer than a 10 page story before.