Author Confessions: Ten Things I’ve Learned from Writing My First Novel by Migs Bravo Dutt

Writing a book can be a life changing experience in many ways.

Author Migs Bravo Dutt shares her experiences and the lessons she learnt while working on her first novel.

  • Believe that you can and don’t listen to naysayers. All of us are at once capable and incapable, and we have a choice which frequency we tune into.
  • Tools make tools. Borrow books (most libraries have great writing references), enroll in online courses (some of them are free), talk to experts and learn from their experience.
  • Have an outline, but be flexible and let the muse take over when she visits, which is a grace accorded to a few.
  • At every step, keep checking what’s the point of the novel. What’s the message of the chapter? And yet at the same time, avoid moralizing.
  • It’s your book. Listen to inputs, but use your best judgment – some advice are worth listening to, while others are best ignored.
  • Writing a book is not any less complex than a major business or corporate project. As with major projects, it helps to have timelines and to break the process down into manageable chunks. Have a regular progress report at key gates/ stages, which could be in terms of chapters or word counts.
  • Have a life (or another job) outside of writing. Publishing takes time and the waiting can drive one crazy. But trust the process. Everything happens at the right time.
  • Keep going, but know when to stop. That is, don’t be a perfectionist.
  • Writing a novel takes a village. I couldn’t have done it without my fellow writers, editors, beta-readers, and my number one cheering squad, family and friends.
  • This bears repeating – don’t believe in obstacles (see #1). If I’d wanted to believe in them, there was no lack of things that could have impeded me from writing my novel: language barrier – I’m not a native English speaker and English is only my fourth language; lack of formal training – I don’t have a BA or MFA in writing; many other responsibilities at home, work, in the society, etc., the list could go on and on.

About the Author

Migs Bravo Dutt is a writer and researcher whose work has been published in several countries, regions, and cultures. Her short fiction has appeared in 22 New Asian Short Stories 2016 and Kitaab’s The Best Asian Short Stories 2018. She has contributed poetry to various anthologies and journals in Singapore, Asia, Croatia, and the USA. She has co-edited Get Lucky: An Anthology of Philippine and Singapore Writings and is the author of the novel, The Rosales House

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