Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Five-Step Rebel-utionary Plan to Writing a Novel

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Some girls in our youth group meet on Sunday nights at our house to work through a book together (though right now we're between books and watching Anne of Green Gables because it's awesome).

The last book we did together was called Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris. (We let the boys come for this book, by the way.) This was a pretty cool book that talked about the low expectations that our culture has for teenagers, and that teens can and should do hard things while they're young. In the book, the authors gave a 5-step plan that can change your world and help you do hard things. I felt that writing a book was, indeed, a very hard thing to tackle as a teenager and that the Harris brother's list was one you all could benefit from. So here are five steps that can help you change your world.

1. Take a risk. 
You'll never write a book if you don't sit down and start typing. It's hard, and it's time-consuming. But take the risk, declare your dream, set the goal, make the time to do it, and invest in it.

2. Raise the bar.
If you want to write a book worthy of publication, it's not enough to finish the book. You have to go back in and rewrite the book. And to do that, you have to find out what makes writing "good," so that you'll know how your writing measures up. It's not easy, but you can do it. Read lots of books on the craft of writing to help you raise the bar.

3. Don't go it alone.
Writing is a very solitary discipline. But that doesn't mean you can't involve other people in your dream. And writing a book worthy of publication is too big to accomplish all by yourself. If you're here reading the Go Teen Writers blog, you've already found communities of writers and made connections. That's awesome! So, make friends, trade books, read each other's work, critique each other's work, and cheer each other on. Writing friends are the best!

4. Don't despair. Small hard things are good too.
Writing a book is something that takes a very long time. Even if you wrote your book quickly, it takes time to rewrite, to meet editors and agents, to pitch your book to them and wait to hear back, and if you sell your book, it still takes time to wait for edits and cover designs and advance reader copies, etc. And most writers don't sell their first, second, or even their third book. Some sell a short story or article first. Some publish a book online to try and build a readership. And these small things aren't easy either. And you should be proud of them. Stay faithful to your goal and keep at it!

5. Take a stand.
In the Do Hard Things book, this is where the authors talk about taking a stand for what is right and going against the cultural norm. That might not seem applicable to writing, but I think it is. One way is that you could write a book about a topic that you are passionate about. But if your book isn't really about a theme of right vs. wrong, you're still taking a stand in regards to your dream. Our culture would say that teens should be enjoying their youth by hanging with friends and having fun. And if you do write, our culture would say it should just be for fun. But if your dream is to write a book worthy of publication, you're going to have to take a stand with your family and friends and make sacrifices of time and fun to get the book done and write another and another and another. You don't have to hurry. But you do have to be consistently loyal to your dream.

So I encourage you all to Do Hard Things in regards to your dream of writing a novel. Most of you already are. Where do you find yourself in this five step list? Are you just starting out and need to take that first risk of declaring your dream and setting the goal? Or are you farther down the list? Let me know in the comments.

ps. I'm going on a little book tour this weekend. If you live in Salt Lake City or Phoenix, come and see me, Jonathan Friesen, Lisa T. Bergren, and Lorie Ann Grover!


26 comments:

  1. I loved that book! It has been a challenge for me, even a challenge that many people don't understand just how hard it is, but I feel God giving me the words to write. Until He stops or shuts the doors, I'll keep writing : )

    Rachel Coker read Do Hard Things too, haha : )

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  2. Thanks for the post, Jill! I've sort of stopped writing for awhile. But I am planning to start again once school's out and my tests are finished. :)
    I'm still on my first draft, so I'm between #1 an #2. :)
    http://teensliveforjesus.blogspot.ru

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    1. That's great, Sofia. It must be so hard to find the time to write while you are in school, especially during finals time!

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  3. It's interesting, because that book happens to be my inspiration for a huge synthesis and argument paper that's due in my English class. Excellent book.

    I've never thought to apply it to my writing before, though. Silly me.

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    1. Yes, it was an excellent book. I think it can apply to all areas of life. All my best to you on your paper!

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  4. These are great tips! This book greatly inspired me to "go against the flow" when I was a teen and was one of the factors that lead me to seek publication while I was young.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Tessa
    www.christiswrite.blogspot.com

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    1. That's awesome! Got to love a book that inspires so many.

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  5. I'm on step two doing rewrites. It's not easy to stick with it, and cut out some of my favorite scenes. I really believe that it is important to stand by what you believe not just in writing, but with your faith as well. Thank you for being a Christian author, keep writing I love your books.

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    1. It's hard to cut favorite scenes. But good for you being willing to do it if necessary. And thanks for the encouragement. :-)

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  6. I'm in step #1. I read Do Hard Things last year but never thought of applying it to writing. Right now I'm in the middle of Start Here, which is also a really good one. :)

    Thanks Jill!

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    1. Then, welcome to the journey, Brooke! I'm excited for you. And I'm so glad you're going to write. :-)

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  7. What a great post, Jill! Got me all pumped for work over here :)

    I wish Zondervan would send you guys to KC so I could see you! Have a great time!

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    1. :-) Thanks, Steph. I should just send myself to KC. Or make you come to Eastern Oregon. Now that's an adventure.

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  8. I'm in two and three, I guess. It's great to see you manuscript come alive, especially when others like it as well!

    arendedewit.blogspot.com

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  9. I'm so glad you did this post! I love Do Hard Things. Unfortunately my writing took a month long stand still for the story I'm working on. I really want to get back to work on it, and this five step action plan will really help.
    Thank you,
    Elizabeth

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  10. This was a great post! :) I have been writing for awhile now, so I've already done some of those steps. I am rewriting (or supposed to be) right now but also working on a new story. (again, supposed to be)
    In reality I'm trying to finish the books I'm reading now so when I leave next week I'm not in the middle of any books. Eventually though, it'll get back to normal and I'll start writing again. Thanks for the post! :-)

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  11. I like step 4. At this point, I don't even have a first draft done, but I'm encouraged by the idea of trying smaller things and being proud of them too. I want to publish a book of short stories on Snippet, for example :)

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  12. I knew when I saw the title it was going to have to do with "Do Hard Things"...yeah, love this book! ;) Like the rest of us, it seems, I didn't really think to apply it to writing...so, thanks!

    I'd guess I'm working on 2 and have some wonderful "threes." :)

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  13. I think I'm at 1, 2 and 4 at the same time. Although I've never finished a book yet, I am working on one right now and I am pretty far into it. Additionally, I am always looking for ways to improve my craft. At the same time, I'm on step 4 because I frequently write short stories ( and sometimes poems ) and I just took the extra leap and sent one of my stories to a magazine. I also started a blog at http://butterfliesoftheimagination.weebly.com/ to help me improve my writing and get more comfortable with sharing it. Overall, this was a great post and now "Do Hard Things" is on my to-read list.

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  14. I think if you apply the steps to writing you inevitably cycle through them, since we writers are (it seems) always having to take risk, and challenge themselves, and make wonderful writing friends and avoid the depths of despair, and not believe those who don't believe writing a book is something serious. Excellent post! I am adding "Do Hard Things" to my reading list.

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  15. I am around 2 and 3. I am editting a novel for the first time and am gearing up writer friends around me. It has been a few years since I clearly set that goal for myself and trying to work up for it now, inbetween everything college related.

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  16. I LOVED this book AND the sequel. They are so great. But geez Jill, this post was AWESOME. I never even considered to apply it to my writing!

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  17. Wow. I never would've thought of applying this to writing, but it really is true. I guess I'm around step 4: Being OK with the small things, too. I'm in the querying process, which feels like forever, so being OK with the littler things that I do while waiting to hear back is where I'm at.


    Alexa Skrywer
    alexaskrywer.blogspot.com

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  18. I'd say I'm going through all the steps, and really haven't got to a specific place. This was just what I neede...getting busy to my writing again

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