After a dozen novels I’m just beginning to feel what it’s all about.
To write a novel you must read. Read lots of stuff—fiction and fact. And poetry. Good poetry, none of that modern nonsense that has neither rhyme nor rhythm. Especially the latter. Poetry and novels share this need. Now and then Shakespeare could do without rhyme—never without rhythm.
And then you must mix with friends—don’t talk much, just observe them. Also strangers. Strangers are different—they act differently when they think no one is watching them. And mix with nature. Grass, wild flowers, trees, forests, lakes, fallen leaves. And snow—little bits of dust wrapped in frozen water—crystals. If you ignore nature, she will ignore you. Your novel will be dead, devoid of seasons, without rebirth.
Don’t wait for ideas to come, but always be ready when they do. Walk a lot, or jog, and do push-ups. You need strength to write a novel. Lots of strength. It sucks blood out of your veins. Always work to replenish it.
And write daily. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Write because, like a virtuoso, you need to live in an environment of sentences well formed. Rounded, or staccato, or legato… who knows what you might needs when the idea comes. When it does, it will scream to be put on paper. Or on the computer screen. It will want to come to life. Life is so precious. It would be a shame for an idea to die, just because you were not ready.