You'll learn more by TRYING to write a book than from merely reading books on how to do it.
Before you can adapt and use the information in "how to" books, you must first HAVE the problems the books solve. In other words, you need to write AND study, not just study first and then begin to write.
If fear is holding you back, take heart. I've written seven published novels and I'm still afraid to start each new book. What makes me a published author is that I overcome that fear every time. Don't be afraid.
Remember that when you start you're free to write as badly as you want because this is only the beginning. This is your secret draft. Later, after you've got it down on the hard drive, you can rewrite it, making it less and less junk, until it's good enough to be published. Just WRITE.
Strive to REMEMBER what happens to you; not the events so much as your emotional reaction to them. Everything's important. Remember all you can. Take notes. Start and maintain a PLOT FILE, a file to contain anything that MIGHT become a plot idea even though it may not be one yet.
Above all, to start writing a novel, you must really WANT to do it. More than the desire to be published, be rich or famous, or enjoy a writer's lifestyle, the desire to WRITE is the most important requirement for a beginning novelist. If your desire to WRITE is great enough, you'll make the sacrifices necessary to finish your book, and finishing your book is the first step to publication.
In order to finish that novel, set definite goals and VISUALIZE reaching them. Most writers are kept from writing a book because they don't really BELIEVE they can do it. Believe you CAN! Commit yourself totally. Don't put it off any longer. Start first thing tomorrow. If you really want write a novel, don't just talk about it.
In the words of the Greek goddess Nike: JUST DO IT!
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