Lesson #1 — Start At the End
You are going to spend thousands of hours communicating with fans and industry professionals about your novel. About the world you created. About your characters.
This is not just about getting to the end of this one novel. This is about your life. It is about the kinds of stories, and the kinds of characters you want to spend your days (and nights) thinking about. It is about making sure that the stories you commit to telling, and how you commit to crafting them, matches up with the quality of life that you actually want.
It is about the kinds of conversations you want to be in.
When your novel succeeds, your fans will want you to write more books in that universe. They will ask you endless questions about your characters’ relationships with each other.
Make sure you are writing for readers you want to connect with. And make sure you’re writing about subjects you, and your ideal readers, will want to talk about for hours on end. Think about the result you want after you complete this novel. Then work backward to make choices that can get you there. You want to make sure the novel you write opens the kinds of doors you actually want to walk through.
Want to hang out with fans who think deeply and ask big questions? Or fans who swoon over a slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance? Or fans who love to crack a good mystery? Or all of the above? Write specifically for them. And write for yourself.
And remember you are not a machine. Your enjoyment matters, as much as the enjoyment you’re going to produce for others. As you finish this novel, you’ll learn a lot about your personal balance between enjoyment and productivity. And you’ll make adjustments. The process will matter as much as the result, your novel in your hands and in the hands of your audience.
Writing is about connecting with readers, yes. But it’s also about discovering new parts of yourself, and crafting a life where you can truly be yourself.
You can’t control every fan (or fanemie) you’ll make. And some chapters you write will require more focus to complete than others.
But knowing how you envision your ideal writing life, who your ideal reader is, and how the kind of novel you’re writing will connect you with them, will help you craft a story you and your readers will celebrate.