1. It’s not a patchwork of novellas or short stories.
That’s how I write my books – a piece of story here, a piece of story there. That’s OK. But you have to see the whole story with all it’s twists and turns and layered or one-sided characters as well, keep the flow and the action, and never leave anything in it just because you felt so good while you were writing it. It’s not a series of novellas, a novel must be homogeneous. You have to write it in a way that when you read it the whole text feels easy, graceful, fluent, as if the writing of it was nothing to you. And if you don’t stop thinking about the whole novel as bits and pieces, it will be visible for the reader as well. After all, everything happens in your mind, and if it’s intermittent, ragged in your head, what’s it going to be on paper?
2. If you get stuck, it’s not just in your head.
I never bought this. When I get writer’s block it’s never because of some mysterious trouble in my head that appeared because of some kind of psychological shenanigan. It’s not just my head playing tricks on me. There was always something wrong with either the plot, or the point of view or the character, or just the concept of the whole thing was flawed. I had no joy in writing it. I postponed it, because it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. So if you get stuck, think about the reason why. You’ll figure it out!
3. Not everything that you want to write about should fit into this one novel.
When I’ve been writing my first novel I had this big temptation to turn every idea I had into a side-story of the novel I was working on. It’s a very bad idea: you’ll have too many side-stories, most of the ideas will not fit into your main idea, but some of them will be fine on their own – maybe for a short-story or novella, or even another novel. Not to mention if you’re keeping a journal… I’m not saying you cannot get inspiration from it, but not every seemingly brilliant idea should go into your novel. Some of them have to wait, even years maybe. Some of them need to be ripened, some of them need to be buried deeply, some of them need to be thrown out.
4. If the story gets bigger, don’t be afraid to think about a sequel or even a trilogy (mine became a series of 7 novels – yet), instead of trying to stuff everything into one monstruos volume.
The long story isn’t the problem. But it could be a problem if you make one novel as long as The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien + The Illustrated Edition of Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. And instead of cutting up one novel into several volumes, why not make a sequel and so on?
5. Don’t shy away from your friends – show it to them! Who else is there who should read it first?
Feedback is important! At the beginning you’re shy, you hide your novel like the binge-drinker hides the booze from his wife. But you cannot improve your writing otherwise. Criticism is as important and as painful as the growth of teeth. You cry at first but then…