How to write a novel during quarantine: 10 tips (guest post)

by Jasper Conway

Laura’s note: Today’s post comes from my favorite guest blogger, Jasper Conway. Jasper is a seventh grade student who enjoys a good story.

I’ve wanted to write a novel for a while. During quarantine, I knew I would have extra time. So I’ve been working on a novel called Midnight. So far, I’ve written about 16,000 words. Here are 10 tips that have helped me that may help you too!

1. Planning is good. When I came up with an idea, I wrote down all the characters and their lives. I thought up each chapter, and what would happen in each one.

2. Consider the hero’s journey. Many authors use this outline. The hero’s journey involves the character finding their quest, finding a mentor, discovering new places, and dealing with challenges including an internal one. The story reaches a climax and resolves. This is a good prompt to keep in mind.

3. Write first, edit last! Get your ideas out, just write. Then after you complete the writing, you can edit to your heart’s content. This way you have the entire story and can cut from there.

4. Write outside. During coronavirus, it seems scary to go outside. However, you should go outside, because the fresh air will let you relax. No loud sounds of children, but pure time to write.

5. Write in the afternoon. Many times, people feel that morning is the time to write. However, the best time is between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. These three hours are the time when everyone is taking a break, so you can have some quiet. Many kids finish home school at this time.

6. Work around your children’s needs. Make a schedule. Many parents, including mine, have trouble working around their kids’ needs. Disruption can cause problems when writing. So make a schedule of your kids’ calls and your Zoom calls and other things. This way you can make sure you have a few good hours to write.

7. Don’t feel you have to write. When writing a book, you will feel pressured to write. I advise against this. You don’t have to write. Two hours of good writing is better than forcing yourself when you don’t want to write. Wait until you have a good idea.

8. Take a break. It’s okay to take a break if you’re slumped. Don’t force yourself into writing. The words will come when they’re ready, so relax. Remember writing a book is fun, not stressful.

9. Even a tree might help! When I’ve been writing my novel, something that helped me that seems crazy is…a forest. We hike through a forest and that helped me visualize a scene. Even the smallest details of a tree in your backyard can help you describe a tree in your story, or a couch, a chair, a table, and more. Use your surroundings to help you write your book.

10. Have a good snack. A snack is everything. Now that you have the time, the place, and a story, one of the most important things is a snack. A good snack can help you stay motivated to work!

Photo: Don’t blame Jasper for the state of mom’s office

20 thoughts on “How to write a novel during quarantine: 10 tips (guest post)

  1. You. Rock. Jasper! I work with a lot of kids that have trouble writing, writing anything, let alone a novel. Your ideas are great for all writing. I am going to print this out to share with them. And honestly, I know a couple of PhD students that I am going to share your ideas with. One just asked me this week — what do you do when you need to write and you don’t feel like writing? I think you have a few ideas on here for that person.

  2. Awesome job, Jasper! These are SUCH great tips!! Best of luck with your novel! I would love to read it one day. 🙂 It’s so wonderful to develop your love for writing at such a young age.

  3. This is a great list, thank you, Jasper! It’s interesting to me to see points where I think you and your mom would differ in the advice you offer — for example, I don’t think I’d expect to see your #s 5 or 7 on a list she wrote — and also places where your thinking and hers might overlap (#9). I’ve definitely found some of her lists (or some of what’s on her lists) helpful and that others don’t speak to me so much, so it’s fun for me to see examples of other people’s work plans also and see where there’s overlap and where there’s divergence.

    1. @Alexicographer – yep, we have different approaches! But he’s written more words in the past few weeks than me, so he may be on to something…

  4. Here’s a vote for caffeinating before writing. I have laser-like focus post a double shot of espresso, which makes me much more productive, which wanes after a few hours.

      1. @Laura My almost 13 year old recently got into coffee. It is basically half coffee/ half cream with a giant spoon of sugar. It seems he takes about 5 sips of a very full cup then leaves it sitting someplace around the house to be discovered a a later date.

  5. Jasper,

    You are so right about that 1:00-4:00 pm time slot. I’m a morning person so I always believed that my best work would be done in the early hours. Quarantine has taught me that’s not so. Mornings are used for “clearing the decks” mentally. Afternoons are for thinking, writing, reading and creating. Brilliant!

  6. Oh Jasper, you are so sweet. My favorite line was: “No loud sounds of children, but pure time to write.” You sound like an old soul, my friend! I am very impressed that you are taking this on, but with Laura as your mom, I think writing is in your blood!

  7. These are awesome tips. My favorite line was “No loud sounds of children, but pure time to write.” Spoken like a true oldest brother of 5! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. What great advice from a writer! I remember a few years ago when I was teaching third grade, I had an author come speak to my class about how to be a writer. And now you have developed this wonderful list of practical advice that I will share with my current second grade students! I’d love to read your book when you are finished…and maybe you could come share it with my students, just like that writer did in third grade! Keep writing Jasper!

  9. Jasper, I love this. Did you know author Roald Dahl also wrote two hours a day? You’re in good company. What I most appreciate about your post is your advice to have fun. Writing can sometimes feel scary or hard, even when it’s something you enjoy. When you can approach your writing playfully, it can make a world of difference. Best of luck on finishing your book!

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