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Walter Mosley’s tips for how to write a novel in a year or less

Author Walter Mosley’s book “This Year You Write Your Novel” is chock full of great tips for doing just that.

Some writers create rituals for their writing: lighting a candle, working in a certain place, listening to a favorite playlist, writing with a special pen. Mosley says his only ritual is that he writes every morning.

“The only thing that matters is that you write, write, write. It doesn’t have to be good writing. As a matter of fact, almost all first drafts are pretty bad. What matters is that you get down the words on the page or the screen—or into the tape recorder, if you work like that.”

The next morning, he reads over what he wrote the day before—making minor edits but mostly to get back in the flow of his story. Some days will be rough and unbearable and others will feel sublime as if the words are flowing from a spring of inspiration. Mosley says to ignore these feelings, either way. Happy or sad, the story has to come out.

“Stick to your schedule. Try to write a certain amount every day—let’s say somewhere between 600 and 1,200 words. Do not labor over what’s been written. Go over yesterday’s work cursorily to reorient yourself, then move on.”

In this manner, he says, a first draft can be done in three months and what you will have in front of you is the “heart of the book.” From this heart, you will rewrite and polish and edit until you have your finished story.

But the most important part is getting that first draft down. To see what else Mosley has to say about writing your novel in a year, check out his book. He packs more tips and wisdom into one hundred pages, than some tomes I’ve read.

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