Things to try /Nigel Watts

Nigel Watts has a Things to Try section at the end of each chapter in his “Writing a Novel” book. I’m starting on the first block of Things to Try as off today and thought about sharing it with you as it may help to get that first kick out on writing.

1. Motivation is the key to seeing through the long process of writing a novel. Often we keep our desires as writers secret – even from ourselves. If your desire is buried, so too will be your motivation. Write a letter to yourself, imagining that an understanding and supportive other part of you will read it. Outline the reasons you want to write, being as honest and as ambitious as you want. Keep the letter in a safe place and read it whenever your motivation flags.

2. Choose a favourite novel, and read it again – either in whole, or in part. Why is it your favorite novel? Be as specific as you can. What can you learn from it in terms of the novelist’s craft?

3. One way of building up your stamina is by doing timed writing exercises. This is a very simple and effective technique. Set yourself a time to write – anything from ten minutes to a couple of hours – then, come what way, write about anything that comes to mind. Write about last night’s dream. Write about a recent important event. Write about the room you’re in. If you’re resistant and blocked, write about that.  (…)

Two things to remember:

  • write for the length of time you said you would – certainly no less. This is a timed exercise.
  • don’t read what you’ve just written. Put it away for a week or two before you read it over. If you don’t do this, the exercise may become goal-oriented, and you may fence in your imagination.

Nigel Watts in Things to Try – introduction, “Writing a Novel”


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