How To Write a Novel — Guidebooks

Matt Lewis Allen
6 min readDec 23, 2022

Day 1 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Minh Tran on Unsplash

I’m going to do something here on Medium that has me shaking in my boots. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.

Day 1 — Guidebooks

Write the books you want to read

— Austin Kleon

My aim for this process is to write a book I want to read. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But I know that if I just sit down and start writing, what comes out will be garbage. Yes, this is a process and I know some writing advice recommends just pouring out your first draft onto the page and seeing what you have. I’ve heard that advice.

  • Write a shitty first draft
  • Write a zeroth draft, that is just for you — you telling yourself the story
  • All writing is rewriting
  • You don’t know what you have to say until you write it
  • Write yourself into the story, start writing until the story takes off

I have tried this, and my story went nowhere. It wasn’t worthy even to be called a story. I ended up with a pile of words.

So where am I going wrong? Well, it is not for lack of advice. I have read a tonne of writing books. I have a shelf weighed down with them. And another virtual shelf on my kindle.

I have tried many methods, and all of them had something useful to teach me. The last ten years of reading and writing have prepared me. Yet I still feel unsure. I want a safety net. I want to learn from a master, or maybe even two. People who have succeeded in what I’m trying to do and can help point the way when things get tricky, the going gets tough and I feel like giving up.

Write — read — write better

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

— Stephen King

Yes Stephen, I read. I read a lot. But that doesn’t mean I’m picking up the information I need to write. What I want is to be focussed on what I’m reading as an aid to writing. Reading widely is important, but I want to go deep. I need to…

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Matt Lewis Allen

Writer and Book Coach — helping you write the book you would love to read — www.mattlewisallen.com