23 Steps to Writing a Bestselling Novel

While everyone’s process is different, the following is my tried and true formula for writing success. I’ve penned five books, two short stories and have two more full-length tomes in the works. This is essentially how I’ve written all of them (give or take minor details). I hope my experience offers help, hope, and enlightenment about the creative process.

  1. Wake up at three in the a.m. with the first line/title/pithy dialogue of my new book running through my head. This will lead to tossing and turning for the rest of the night whilst I endeavor to fall back to sleep, simultaneously trying not to forget the first line/title/pithy dialogue.
  2. Wake up grumpy due to my fitful night. Realize I have indeed forgotten everything I so zealously tried not to forget. Get the kids off to school. Hit the internet in hopes of sparking my memory.
  3. Cyber stalk my favorite authors by checking their Amazon ranking, Tweets and Facebook updates.  Let feelings of worthlessness consume me.
  4. Briefly get sidetracked by a sponsored link on “Planking Your Way to Fitness.” Get down on the floor to attempt such a plank. Hold the pose for three whole seconds before falling into an unconscious heap.
  5. Wake two hours later with drool and carpet fibers glued to my face. Before fully come to, I remember the first line/title/pithy dialogue.  Hurry back to the computer to write it down.
  6. Commemorate the moment by purchasing this mug. the-voices-are-back
  7. Decide what my heroine/hero’s favorite food is going to be. My reader may never know but I feel it’s important for character development to know my protagonist through-and-through. Make said food. This might involve a trip to the store or ordering specialty produce over the internet. This can set me back hours or days but it’s a vital step.
  8. Take a hot bath to encourage my muse. Fall asleep. Wake in freezing cold water. Take another hot bath to warm up.
  9. Dress in clean pajamas and go back to the computer. Hit Facebook and get updates that my author friends have managed to write 28,000 words while I was warming up. Let feelings of worthlessness consume me.
  10. Realize that if I start writing immediately, I only have three hours before I need to pick the kids up at school. Wonder if this is enough time. Contemplate it over lunch and decide it’s not, but console myself that I managed to write twenty crucial words.
  11. Do the dishes, clean the toilet, and vacuum until it’s time to get the kids.
  12. Fall into a deep sleep and wake at 3 a.m. wondering if I turned the coffee pot off. Try to convince myself that no one’s house burns down from a coffee pot left on. Imagine a burning smell. Toss and turn until 4 when I simply have to get up and check the coffee pot.
  13. Wake up exhausted. Get the kids off to school and have a stern conversation with myself. “No more fooling around!,” I demand. “Get to work!”
  14. Decide my main character is going to buy something on ebay that will change his/her life. Go to ebay in search of said item. Get sidetracked bidding on Barbie dresses from China, shoe clips and vintage evening bags.
  15. Rethink the whole ebay angle and shop Old Navy clearance while I wait for inspiration.
  16. Bemoan the fact that Tom Berenger had to age. Have lunch.
  17. Go on Facebook and cyber stalk people from high school and college. Discover my former friends have accomplished great, great things: Attorney General of her state, winner of Philanthropist of the Year,  a fellowship at Sloane Kettering. Let feelings of worthlessness consume me.
  18. Write another forty-eight words in my story. Question every last one of them.
  19. Realize that I hate Twitter with the burning passion of a thousand suns and wonder why I even have to tweet. Then I remember every agent, article, and publisher since the dawn of the new millennium says I need a Twitter presence to stay connected to my readers.
  20. Straighten the carpet tassels.
  21. Pick the kids up from school.
  22. Eat some more.
  23. Write the book.

If not actually helpful in its’ own right, I hope my journey will help you realize your creative process is not as ridiculous as it might seem. I question the quality of content of those who claim to write two thousand words a day, rain or shine. In my esteemed opinion, if you don’t spend time crying on the floor, eating your body weight in comfort food, or feeling totally worthless, you’re book might just not be for me.

Author Bio: Whitney Dineen is an Amazon bestselling and award-winning author of romantic comedies and middle reader fiction. Her first rom com, She Sins at Midnight, won a silver medal in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Awards. Her second, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, won Honorable Mention at the London Book Festival, is a finalist in the 2016 RONE Awards  and won a silver medal in the 2016 Reader’s Favorite Awards. Whitney lives in rural Oregon with her family and chickens, who just happen to be named after Barbie Princesses.






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