I smiled when I read her biggest dream. The dream she’d held onto for years.

The one she would do if she were finally financially free:

I would finally write my novel and get it published. – Stacy R.

I get her dream. Because I’ve had it too.

Where My Dream Started

I can do that, I thought to myself. I’ve written over a dozen nonfiction books; of course, I can write a romance novel.

Let me tell you, it’s a lot trickier than it sounds.

Nonfiction has a logical order. The chapters are all standalone topics about specific things. You can outline it. You can put in information or pull it back out. Move it around – it all works.

But a novel is a story. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end.

One thing feeds into another. You can’t get to someplace in a story without building up to that point. You can’t make assumptions. It has to be logical. Or you’ll get called on it.

Ever watched a really bad movie that didn’t make sense?

Many years ago, I attended a conference that taught me to make goal lists: one week, one month, one year, ten years, one hundred years. One week goals are easy – they’re your to-do lists. But writing out a one hundred year list makes you think bigger. You have to consider everything you want to do in your life. You think larger. You dream deeper. You search your soul for what matters most.

And when I wrote out my list, “writing a novel” was somewhere in the middle.

Yep, I had the dream too. I joined the 81 percent of Americans who think they have a book in them. But unlike almost all of those 200 million Americans who will never accomplish their goal, I decided to do something about it. (I’ve read statistics that state up to 97 percent of people will never get their book written!)

What’s different about me and the other 3 percenters compared to the rest

Most people put things on their goals lists – their New Year’s resolutions, or their bucket lists – and have no history of ever having done the “thing” before.

You’ll never do what’s on your list if you don’t make an effort to bring it into your life.

  • If you want to travel, you have to travel.
  • If you want to be a chef, you have to cook.
  • If you want to write a book, you have to write.

I had that in my past. I’d written for years.

I’ve produced over a dozen nonfiction books in photography and marketing.

I’ve signed a contract with a small publishing house.

I’ve started several blogs and written every day for years.

I’ve even written as a columnist for the Business Journal for many years.

Even though it was all nonfiction in my past, I already had writing in my daily life. I knew I could easily produce several thousand words a day. The only difference was storytelling – producing a story instead of chapters of advice.

The Three Things That Have Helped Me Be Better At Writing Romance Novels

I recently published my 7th romance novel. And I have my 8th and 9th in various stages of writing and editing.

I’m by no means great at writing romance novels. I’m still learning this craft and perfecting it as I go.

Yet I’ve found 3 things that have helped me get to where I am today.

1. I write every day. Sometimes I journal. Sometimes I sit down and write short stories. Sometimes I add to my blogs. Sometimes I outline books and write out chapters. I’ve written over one million words each of the last two years.

2. I focus on the craft every day. I’m always learning how to write better, how to organize stories so they make more sense, and what’s new in the publishing world. I binge watch Netflix shows as much to interpret storylines as I do for the stories themselves. I read dozens of books every year. I’m always learning.

3. I do something creative every day. If you want to be creative, you have to do creative things. I walk and hike. I travel extensively. I read. I take classes. I do new things. I’m always exploring this big, wonderful world.

So you want to be a writer? You say writing a novel is on your list too?

I have one question for you: What are you doing to make your dreams come true?

I’d love to hear what you’re dreams are, if you have “writing a novel” on your bucket list, and what you’re doing to do something about it! Comment below, or shoot me an email.