On Instant Gratification and Your First Novel

If you’re in the process of writing your first novel, congratulations! Whether you’re on the first chapter or the last page, you did what countless people around the world wish they could do.

However, we all know that writing a novel doesn’t happen overnight—and it could be a long time before you get to share your work with anyone besides your immediate friends and family. You might be feeling fed up with pouring your soul onto the pages, only to have your best work collect dust on your computer. But before you let the frustration get the best of you, here are some ways to combat the lack of instant gratification that most writers face while writing their debut novel.

An actual photo of the inside of my head after a long day of writing.

Build a Social Media Following

Even though you can’t share your novel with the world just yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it on social media! Sites like Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter are a great place to get potential readers excited about your novel long before it hits the shelves. You’ll also be able to connect with fellow writers who are all-too-familiar with the lack of recognition that first-time novelists face. And although seeing your follower count go up doesn’t compare with the satisfaction you’ll feel when your novel is finally published, for now, it might be the extra pick-me-up you need.

Social media: Keeping first-time novelists sane since 1997.

Keep in mind that if you plan on getting your book traditionally published, you won’t want to use direct quotes or give away too much of the plot. However, if you’re going the self-publishing route, feel free to tease potential readers to your heart’s content.

Write a Weekly Blog Post

Starting a blog is another great way to scratch your itch for instant gratification. After you build a following, the likes and comments will start rolling in with every new post. If you’re lucky, you may even get some helpful feedback on your writing style from fellow bloggers! Don’t forget that blogging is also a great way to drive traffic to your social media pages and gain followers.

Additionally, writing a weekly blog post offers a much-needed break by taking your mind off your novel for a while. And every first-time novelist knows that even if you don’t think you need a break, you probably do once in a while. If you choose a niche you’re passionate about, writing a blog will feel like a much-needed breather rather than work.

Don’t make the same mistake I did and write about your novel so often that you get sick of blogging, too.

Research Potential Literary Agents

When it’s time for a break, researching agents is a great way to unwind while still working towards the success of your novel. Personally, I’ve been using both Duotrope and QueryTracker to put together my “dream list” of Science Fiction agents. It reminds me that there’s an end in sight, even on my most anxiety-filled days, and it gives me the extra boost of motivation that I need to keep on writing.

In the world of novel-writing, agents are the ones who can hand you the keys to the kingdom.

Although digging through endless list of agents in your genre won’t give you the same jolt of instant gratification as some of the other options in this article, it’s still a way to break up the monotony—and it’s a major step towards your ultimate goal: Publication.

Try Your Hand at Short Stories

If none of these other choices satisfy your craving for instant gratification, short stories are the way to go. They’re far less of a commitment than a full-length novel, and the wave of satisfaction you get from writing the last word may be the boost you need. Here, have a prompt: Write a short story that takes place in the same “universe” as your novel, but fifty years in the past or the future.

Disclaimer: No wormholes are actually required for this prompt.

The submission process for short stories is often far more forgiving than it is for full-length novels, so this is a great way to get your feet wet and get some experience in the weird world of publishing. Plus, it looks impressive to potential agents when you’ve already been published before. And if you don’t feel like jumping through all the hoops, you can simply self-publish the stories on your own site.

Relax and Be Proud of Your Progress

Unless you’re already famous, writing your first novel can be rough: and that’s why most people never try at all. From the moment you sit down at the keyboard, you know that you won’t get a shred of recognition until long after the final word is written—and most people can’t deal with that, but you can.

That’s why it’s so important to be proud of yourself for attempting to write a novel at all! You’ve done what most of humanity could never even dream of doing, and I’m proud of you. I hope your writing journey is someday full of all the instant gratification you dreamed of and more.

Someday this will be you, relaxing by the ocean and reading your finished book.

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