How to Practice Writing a Novel

Photo credit: martinak15 on Flickr
So I received a question recently about how to practice writing before writing a novel, and it got me thinking. The writer mentioned writing short stories, and I do think there’s definitely some value in that and it can be a great way to start off learning how to develop characters, manipulate pacing and plot, establish voice, write dialogue, etc.

That said, I kind of believe that the best way to practice for writing a novel is to write a novel.

Writing a book is hard. It’s not just plotting out a full arc, or just getting a cast of characters right, or just developing your protagonist, or just writing an interesting voice, or just putting together snappy dialogue, or just getting world building and setting right, or just keeping the pacing on point. It’s doing all of that simultaneously and more.

The truth is, there are some things you can really only learn by doing. And writing a book, I suspect, is one of them.

But it’s not just writing the book that you learn from—you learn from every stage. From brainstorming, to plotting, to figuring out your characters, to actually writing, to revising, to working with critique partners, and revision, and if you get to it, writing query letters, and synopses, and there’s a ton involved. But I really do believe there’s something to be learned from every stage.

So if you ever find you’d like to write a book, but you don’t feel you’re ready, or you think you need more practice, I encourage you to start writing. That feeling of “I’m not ready” doesn’t really completely go away (writers, after all, are well-known for regularly suffering from imposter syndrome). And the truth is, no amount of practice in the world is going to teach you what writing a book will.

What do you think? Is writing a novel the best way to practice novel-writing? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
.@Ava_Jae says the best way to practice novel-writing is to write a book. What do you think? (Click to tweet)

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