A lot of people believe that they have a novel inside of them. A lot of people are right. However, it isn’t just enough to say you have a great idea for a book to make a book happen. There’s a little more effort that goes into creating a novel, and not everyone is interested in making that kind of commitment.
If you are a first time writer, just starting out, the good news is that it is easy to practice. Writing requires butt-in-chair persistence, but you can write about anything you want to. You are the captain of your own vessel, and your decisions are the ones that make the difference.
For myself, I write as much as I can, because I get such little spare time to write at the moment. I don’t have a distinct word count per day. I used to, back when I had a regular 9-5 job, but school is a little more demanding and there are hours of homework to do even when I’m not in class. The good news is that there are lulls in classwork, and during those times I am writing as much as I can.
That’s the secret. There are authors that will give you goals to meet. Five hundred words a day, a thousand words a day, for some people it matters. Some people need that kind of structure to keep themselves going.
For me, five hundred words will end up being the length of this blog post. I have written enough of them now that I know what to expect, even if I don’t know what I’m going to be writing about. I’ve had enough practice to know how long I’m going to ramble on a given subject before drawing conclusions. That in no way helps me with my novel writing, however. When the playing field is 80k-100k words, a mere five hundred words isn’t even enough to narrate a gun fight. It’s barely enough to introduce setting and a character description, or start a dialogue sequence.
However, it’s important to note that you could write half a gun fight in five hundred words, and if you did that in a day, you could write the second half of the gun fight the next day, and in two hundred days, less than a whole year, you could finish your rough draft of a novel.
There are as many kinds of writers as there are kinds of books. There are non-fiction writers, there are self-help book writers, there are fiction writers, there are science fiction writers. Some kinds of books require more research, others require creativity and charisma. Some readers like hard science, others prefer Regency romance. So naturally, there are as many different kinds of ways to write books.
Start small. Start with an outline, or just dive in with five hundred words a day. As my friend James says, that’s five hundred more words than 90% of the world wrote that day.
Getting in what you can is really the only “right” answer to this question. As long as you are trying, and building on what you already have, that’s the right path to be on.