Ok, you’ve read a ton of articles on how to write a successful Light Novel (LN), written the major characters, created a world for them to live in, and gave them a conflict to resolve.
So? What are you waiting for? Go on and start writing!
I know what you’re thinking: it’s not that easy. It’s one thing to be prepared to climb a mountain and another to drag yourself up it sweating, aching, and cursing.
Whether you’re in a writing rut or have never written a single sentence, this overwhelming sense of hesitation attacks everyone.
I’ve written a bunch and I still encounter the above scenario every time I go to write my next LN.
And that’s fine. Many blame this feeling on a lack of motivation or a fear of failure, which are to blame, but I prefer to give those demons a name.
Sloth says you’ve got all the time in the world. That it doesn’t matter when you do it, so long as you do it.
But you’ll never take the first step with that attitude.
Envy says to not even bother. You’ll never be better than those other Authors. No sense in trying only to fail and feel bad about yourself.
But that’s a lie. You’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you take the first step.
And so, I’m going to show you how to fight off those demons and take that first step.
Thankfully for all Authors, only the last section actually forces you to write. The rest is dedicated to making you happy, comfortable, and ready to crank out your LN.
You Can Only Write in the Right Mindset
The most important thing to do is convince yourself you can even write in the first place. Depending on your personality, that will either sound stupidly simple or outright impossible.
But if you’re reading this article, you probably don’t believe the former, and the following will prove to you that the latter is quite wrong.
The More You Read, The More You’ll Write
That’s right—read. To be a LN Author, you must read other LNs.
Well, duh. You say, but don’t yet understand.
You should read LNs in order to learn about how they’re written, their story structures, and what the common genres, tropes, etc. are. But that’s not all.
Reading LNs can psyche you up to write in three ways.
- You’re holding it. The fact you’re reading a LN is concrete proof it can be done. You have no reason to doubt you can write a LN when thousands upon thousands of other have been published. Their Authors are just as human as you, why can’t you do it too?
- You’re reading it. The fact you’re reading a LN is proof they get read. Don’t worry that no one will ever read your LN. Just by the act of reading, you’re proving at least one person was willing to read it. And just one person is all you need to spread the word.
- You can do better. My first realization that I should be a writer is when I thought to myself while reading: “I can do better than this”. You’ve probably had similar thoughts. A lot of LNs are ‘bad’, but they still get published. And every time I read a bad one, it reassures me that I too can be successful seeing as I’m much a better writer (😂). That might sound petty, but it really will help you fight off any negativity.
Read as much as you can both to learn and to reinforce the idea that you can write a LN. Others have, so can you.
You can learn how to best use reading LNs as a learning tool by reading this article about how watching Anime and other forms of media can teach you how to write.
Don’t Read Too Much
Didn’t you just finish telling me to read?!
Did I…? Well, you shouldn’t. While reading is important to learn and psyche yourself up, it can be dangerous. This article about reading too much details the dangers in full.
If you ever find yourself comparing yourself to ‘better’ Authors, stop. This can completely kill any desire to write. Looking at other’s accomplishments and thinking to yourself: “I’ll never be this good”, is completely pointless. Why?
Because your writing and whoever else’s writing are so far removed from each other as to not even be on the same planet. They can’t be compared to each other simply because they’re not comparable.
The fact that you, a wholly unique existence with a unique writing style, ideas, and beliefs, are writing your LN automatically makes it unique.
Or, to put it in an overused phrase: apples and oranges.
Your apples and her oranges have nothing to do with each other. Don’t give into despair by comparing the two.
The worst LN in existence still got published. And maybe it was even able to sell ten copies. You can at least do that much, can’t you? If you’ve been reading my articles, I guarantee you can. You have the tools to be just as successful as any other Author.
All that said, it’s very important to read works that are considered ‘better’ than the majority. You can study them and apply what you learn in your own writing. While ‘bad’ works can motivate you, you shouldn’t read them exclusively.
If you live in the stink, you too will stink. Your frame of reference won’t be what’s considered ‘great’, but ‘bad’. And ‘bad’ is all you’ll know how to write.
Read to learn. Read to motivate yourself. But stop reading if you find Envy invading your thoughts.
And as a side note: I don’t read near the time I’m about to sit down to write. Why? Because I find that it messes with my style. The writing style and protagonist voice of whatever I was just reading somehow find their way into my writing.
I don’t do it on purpose, it just kind of happens because I was so absorbed by what I was reading. If you have the same problem, do what you can to avoid it or you’ll have a lot more editing to do later.
Think of Those Who Will Read Your Light Novel
If you’re like me, you need a good reason to do anything. And by that I mean I’m the type who’s motivated by the promise of a Platinum Trophy.
Petty? Perhaps, but if you could write for the sake of writing, you probably wouldn’t need to psyche yourself up. You would just do it because you want to.
But not me. I don’t write for myself. I write for those who will one day read my LN. Without readers, I see no point in writing. I mean, why bother spending all your free time writing if you’re not going to share it with anyone?
Just imagine if all your favorite Authors decided to cram their works in the backs of their desks after they were finished.
You would think: “How dare she?! How could she rob the world of that great LN?!”
No one would benefit except the Author. And she is only getting a tiny fraction of the potential benefits she could receive by sharing it.
Imagine the great story, lovable characters, and unique world you could share with your readers. You wouldn’t want another Author to deprive you of those, so don’t do it to your readers either.
But who are these readers? Who am I supposed to be writing for?
A good question and one I’ll answer by sharing the reason I wanted to be an Author in the first place.
I first played what I still consider to be the greatest visual novel of all time (Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO) in 2015. It engaged me so much that I played it eight hours a day until I had 100% completed it. I loved every second of it and still think about it to this day.
At the time, I didn’t realize how influential and popular it had once been (in 1996), so I thought to myself: “Wow, I must be the only one who still even knows what this is. That this random game I played on a whim could have such a massive impact on my entire being is truly amazing.”
I realized I wanted someone else to experience those wonderful feelings too. What if I could write something that could make just one person feel what this game made me feel?
I felt like I was that ‘just one person’ to that game. Unsure of how else to do so, I decided to follow in that Author’s footsteps and become an Author.
I don’t write for a specific group of readers, but that ‘just one person’ that I once was. If I can make him feel the same way I did all those years ago, then I will have succeeded.
Think of that ‘just one person’ and write for them. He’ll be glad you did.
The Writer’s Realm
We Authors are a whiny bunch. We can’t just yank out a pen and some paper and start working. We have to be ‘in the right mood’, ‘in the right place’, or ‘totally prepared’.
These are just excuses, I know, but they should be addressed nonetheless. You wouldn’t chastise a carpenter for slacking off if he didn’t have a saw, would you?
Authors need more than just pen and paper. Below are your primary weapons when waging the war that is writing your LN.
Writing can be a painful endeavor. The last thing you need to worry about how is cold or hot you are among other complaints.
So, you need to get comfortable. Here’s how:
The Proper Tools
If you use:
- Pen and Paper – Great, I personally can’t use them because my brain goes faster than my hand…anyway, just make sure you have enough paper and ink (or lead) to last for your whole session. And don’t force yourself to handwrite (because you think it’s cool) if you’re not used to it, your hand will hurt a few minutes in and then you won’t want to write anymore.
- A Word Processor – Make sure of two things. One, it auto-saves, there’s nothing worse than losing your work because you forgot to save it or your computer freezes. Two, you have enough power. This typically only applies if you write in public, but make sure your battery is fully charged or that where you’re writing has a place to recharge.
A Distraction-Free Environment
The slightest distraction in any form is the perfect excuse for Sloth to convince you that: “You might as well give up for the day. You’ll never get anything done like this.”
Ignore him. Build an environment free of distractions before you even try to write. Here’s how:
- Find a Quiet Place – This could be a library, low-traffic café, park, or your bedroom. However, anywhere is a quiet place when you’re wearing headphones or earplugs. I’ve had to leave places because their radio/TV/other customers were too loud for me to focus. Don’t waste your time and go find (or make) a quieter place.
- Go Off the Grid – That magic rectangle in your pocket is Sloth’s best friend and your greatest foe. Silence it.
- Put your phone on silent, turn off its Wi-Fi/Data, and pretend it doesn’t exist.
- Turn off your computer’s Wi-Fi lest you decide to check Twitter or whatever for ‘just five minutes, I swear’.
- Go Full-screen – I use a writing app called Scrivener to write all my LNs. It has many great features, but the one I use most is its full-screen mode. It blocks out everything on your computer screen so that all you see is your text. You can also set it to whatever colors you want. I set mine to a black background with green text like you’d see on an old computer terminal.
For whatever reason, I’m incapable of writing at home during the day. As soon as the sun goes down, I’m fine, just not before then. So, I write somewhere else during the day and finish up at home later that night.
When I wrote my first two LNs, I had this routine:
- Go to fast-food restaurant, order cheap junk and a drink, and write at least 500 words while getting wasted on caffeine.
- Go to library and write at least 500 words before leaving.
- Go home, wait until after 10 PM or so, and write at least 1000 words.
This way, I was able to write 2000+ words a day.
Don’t do that. It was an unhealthy combination of garbage food, addictive substances, and staying up much too late. I’ve managed to quit the caffeine, start waking up early, and hit the gym to combat the bad food, but I can still write just fine.
Figure out what works best for you and establish some kind of routine. You’ll soon start associating each location with writing. And when that happens, your brain will say: “Well, I’m here, I guess I have no choice but to write.”
I don’t dare leave the house now without some way to write lest I wind up at one these places and feel uncomfortable because I’m not writing.
A Different Locale
As alluded to in the above, I need to keep moving while writing. If I stay in one place too long, I slow down and start losing motivation.
It can be good to move around, get your blood flowing, and see some different scenery. You might feel like you’re wasting time, but don’t hesitate to change locales if you feel the need. If I only wrote at home, I doubt I’d break 1000 words a day.
You Don’t Need It
Advice you often hear includes:
- Drink caffeine, it improves concentration!
- Write drunk, edit sober.
- Give yourself a tasty treat as a reward once you finish writing.
Don’t do any of that. These may appear as ‘enhancers’, but all they’ll end up becoming are handicaps.
Every time you use an external motivator to force yourself to write, you train your brain to associate it with writing. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself unable to write without taking a hit of caffeine, alcohol, or sugar.
You’ll start saying: “Oh no, I’m out of soda/booze/cookies, I guess I won’t be writing today.” It’s just another excuse you’ll add to Sloth’s arsenal.
And like any addictive substance, you’ll have to take more and more to achieve the same effect. Meaning, you’re not going to be able to write as much as you would have had you not used it in the first place.
Take it from someone who tried all three and had to quit: You don’t need it!
Yes, jam. Find some music that gets your creative juices flowing and crank it up loud enough to drown out any distractions (don’t really, please protect your ears).
I usually hop on YouTube and find a future-funk or synthwave mix without a lot of vocal tracks. I prefer those that are 1-hour long because that’s about how long I can write before burning out.
I sometimes listen to an album from a band I like and leave it on repeat.
And usually, before starting the mix or album, I listen to a ‘hype song’ before writing to get me pumped.
Just find whatever works for you. Some Authors love silence, while others (like me) must have music as to drown out two of the three voices in my head fighting for attention…
Writing in Progress
Sorry, we’ve reached the last section. Now you have no choice but to write. The demons are screaming ‘no’, but you shouldn’t have to worry about them anymore. You’re mentally and physically prepared. All that’s stopping you is you.
And how you defeat yourself? Like so:
Just One Sentence
I’ll leave this one up to one of the greats.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.”Ernest Hemingway
That’s all you have to do when you first start writing. Just write one sentence. That’s it. You can stop now if you want. Come back tomorrow and write another sentence.
But you won’t. You’ll find that after you manage to force out one sentence, the next hundred will flow with ease. It’s the same with everything in life, the first step is the hardest.
It’s fine to start small. Writing 10 words is still progress. If that’s all you can manage at first, so be it. 10 words a day will balloon into 300 a month.
But again, you’ll find that you can write so much more. When I first start writing again after a hiatus, my word count usually looks like this:
- Day 1: 300 per day
- Day 2: 500 per day
- Day 5: 1000 per day
- Day 10: 2000 per day
That may be hard to believe, but that’s just what happens. Writing has its own dedicated brain muscle. The harder you work it out, the stronger it will get. If you exercise every day, you’ll be able to do more and more reps guaranteed.
Do everything you can to write that ‘one true sentence’ and the rest will take care of itself.
You might’ve noticed whenever you’re performing a task that requires a lot of focus that the world around you kind-of disappears. You’re mowing the lawn or working on a painting for that art class you took because you thought it’d be easy. You enter a trance and the next thing you know—an hour has passed without your having noticed it.
This is what I call ‘Flow’. The sensation of being so wrapped up in a task that you lose track of time.
You can and will achieve this state while writing. The only problem is that it takes more time than you might like.
For me, it takes about 15 minutes before I achieve Flow. Then I can write for another 45 without being aware of time. And when I break out of my trance, I genuinely feel that only 5 minutes have passed.
The trick is fighting off the demons during those initial 15 minutes. This will be difficult when you’re just starting out, but after a few writing sessions, it won’t be a problem.
Do everything you can to not walk away or tab out of your word processor. I find staring at the blinking cursor and emptying my mind to help.
Or I just type out a few nonsense sentences that I soon delete. As much as you want to run away, don’t. Flow will come, it just takes time.
Set a Daily Goal
Again, I’m a goal oriented person, so I need goals (surprise!). And the best goals are of the number variety. Like my character level in a video game, I love seeing my word count increase.
So, I set daily word goals and so should you.
At first, that goal could be 10 words. Yes, that’s all you need. Then you can increase it to 20, then 30, and so on. Why stress yourself out? Progress is progress.
But as I mentioned earlier, you’ll find yourself writing more and more. Once I establish a routine, I can usually hit around 2000 words a day. The most common advice I’ve heard is to shoot for 1000 a day. This is good, but it doesn’t feel like enough for me.
My desire to complete goals sees beyond the word count. Rather than just words, I see LNs. A LN is 50K words on average. So, 2K~ words a day will net me 1 LN per month. That’s 12 LNs per year!
Do I actually accomplish that? No, but it’s a rather enticing prospect. Besides, I already know it can be done. I wrote the first draft (50K) of my first LN in 27 days and the first draft (55K) of my second in 25 days. Which you can learn how to do by reading this article on how long it takes to write a Light Novel.
It took much longer (editing) before I could call it truly complete, but as far as my dopamine-starved brain was concerned, I had written a novel in under a month.
And you can too! Just set a daily word goal of whatever you can feasibly tackle and go for it. You don’t even have to meet it, but you’ll want to the next day.
Just don’t think you have to ‘make up’ for what you didn’t do the previous day. That will balloon out of control and Sloth will rip your motivation in two.
The best way to do this is by having a total word count and how soon you’d like to reach it in mind. My logic is 50K words in 30 days. That’s 1700 words a day rounded up.
Do I always reach it? No, but it motivates me to keep trying. I like to copy and paste everything I wrote in a day into a word counter and then put the total word count into a spreadsheet. This way I can see real progress or be forced to realize when I’m slowing down.
Daily goals might feel like extra stress at first, but they’ll soon become another means of motivation.
Don’t Stop Now
The final part of this process is to keep going. Maintaining speed once you’ve attained it is easier than you might imagine, but getting back up to it is always agonizing.
To succeed as an Author, you must write. Obviously, but that’s not quite what I mean.
You must write. Every day. Yes, every day. Ok, not every single day, please take a break every once in a while, but don’t get too comfortable.
The demons are always watching and waiting for you to let your guard down. And the second you break routine, they’ll swoop in and you’ll soon find yourself rereading this article, wondering how you ever fell so far.
It’s happened to me several times and I guarantee it will happen to you unless you keep writing. Just like you have to keep exercising lest your muscles atrophy, you must keep your writing muscle active.
So, don’t stop now. Get ready to write, write, and keep writing. Your first or next LN is just a few sessions away from completion!