10 Rules for Writing Your Book on the Beach

If you’ve always dreamed of running off to the beach to take in the ocean view and write your novel, then boy do I have a surprise for you. It’s incredible. Okay, that’s probably not surprising, but writing a novel on the beach shows what you’re really made of—and just in time for National Novel Writing Month too.

But there are a few rules to follow before you take off to the sand and write the next bestseller.

1. Choose a condo with a balcony and stellar view.

If a condo on the beach with a nice view isn’t within your budget, save up money anyway and make it happen. If you go in the off-season, you can get a good deal because condo owners and agents would like money during November, please.

The view is a must, or else there’s no point in writing on the beach. To be inspired by the water, you must be able to see it.

2. Set up project targets for your desired word count.

I use Scrivener, which allows me to create a project target for my novel’s word count. For example, I know I want to write 90,000 words in 6 weeks, so I type in my due date and projected word count. Voila! Scrivener keeps track of it for me so I know how I’m doing on my daily writing goal.

3. Embrace the solitude.

What’s that sound I hear? Silence. And it is the sweetest sound. Running away to a condo on the beach to write your novel means solitude. It means no interruptions, no distractions, no responsibilities—except for writing your novel.

Chances are, life was getting too loud to focus so that’s why you chose to write on the beach. Enjoy the peacefulness.

4. Bring the right tools.

What’s in your novel toolkit? Books, right? And snacks? Definitely pack some snacks.

Here are my must-have tools for novel-writing:

·      The Emotion Thesaurus

·      Your First Novel

·      Bird by Bird

·      a notebook for stray ideas

·      a novel in a different genre than mine for light reading

Don’t forget the sunscreen.

5. Limit emails, social media, and phone use.

You won’t always be able to escape everything in your life to write, but you can limit it. If you’re constantly checking Facebook on your iPhone, delete the app and replace it with Kindle.

(Instagram photos of the beach are permitted. Bonus points if photos include a selfie of you writing on the beach.)

6. Find a local coffee shop and become friends with the baristas.

Every town has one, so find a local coffee shop where you can stop in and get some work done. You won’t always be in your condo typing away, so it’s nice to get out and converse with other humans. You need a backup writing environment, so choose a coffee shop that’s usually quiet but staffed with people who can help you. Which brings me to my next point . . .

7. Talk to strangers for in-depth information on your subject.

If you’ve made friends with the baristas, then guess what? They have friends too who can help you research different subject matters.

When I realized that my protagonist would be a hacker, I told the barista that I’d have to find someone who knew about hacking to help me write it. Two minutes later, he showed me a text message on his phone—he had set up a meeting that week for me to interview his buddy about hacking. And guess what? It was one of the most fascinating, informative conversations I’ve had in a long time and it highly benefited my novel.

8. Write in the condo; research in the sand.

Heaven help us when someone reads our Google search history. Yes, right now, my search history says, “How long does it take to bleed out from a slit throat?” Yikes. What is wrong with me? I’m a fiction writer, that’s what. And we have to research some crazy things. So if you’re going to research, get some fresh air and do it in the sand.

Bring your phone for Internet access. Laptops + beach = sandy mess of death.

9. Take one day/afternoon off to let your brain rest.

Depending on how long you’ll be hiding out to write your novel, you can either take an entire day off or just the afternoon to give your brain a break.

“But there’s no time! Must. Write. Eleventy. Billion. Words. A. Day.” If you don’t take time to breathe and enjoy the scenery, you’re going to lose it. A timeout will allow you to write more clearly.

10. Don’t drown in rewrites.

We all know how this works: you get some traction, the novel is coming along, and oops! You decided to rewrite half the thing. Tell your inner editor to take a hike.

Editing can wait. The finished product cannot.

Have you ever stolen away to the beach to get some writing done? What are the pros and cons? Any rules I didn’t list?

 

Shayla Eaton is the president of Curiouser Editing and a connoisseur of the writing and editing process, having edited over two hundred books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts, and web copy. She is the author of The Curiouser Crusade and the Pre-Publishing Checklist.