Know your expectations

If this is the first book you've ever written, give yourself a little slack. Nice as it is to imagine that you're going to get a million-dollar advance, a movie deal from steven spielberg, and foreign sales in every language known to humankind, the odds are against this happening. First advances generally float in the $2,000-$5,000 dollar range, and most first novels sink without so much as leaving an oil slick on the water to mark their passing.

While having high hopes can keep you going, having high expectations can paralyze you. After all, if you demand of yourself that you write the Great American Novel your first time out, every time you try to type a word on the page, your mental editor is going to say "No Great American Novel ever included that word." And you'll never get beyond the first thirty pages.

Give yourself room to learn, and to make mistakes.

If you do this ground work before you sit down at the keyboard and type "Chapter One," you'll stand a much better chance of getting to "The End." And the coolest thing about starting a novel is having justified confidence that you're going to eventually finish it.

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