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How to Know When You Are Ready to Write a Novel

This is a guest post by Jevon Knights. Jevon is a fiction writer from Trinidad and Tobago. You can follow Jevon on his blog, J. Knights World and on Twitter (@JevonKnights).
Write a Novel

Photo by Pascal Maramis

You’ve been thinking about writing a novel for years now. You’ve had ideas swimming around in your head for as long as you can remember.

You’ve researched the best webinars, workshops, and creative writing degrees. Or maybe you’ve taken some writing courses, read all the “how to” books, and even went to a writing conference.

And after all this, you still don’t feel ready.

How could you be, right? After all, how could you have the amazing ability or talent to write a bestseller like Stephen King or a masterpiece like Cormac McCarthy?

Well my friend, if you’re concerned you don’t have enough talent, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong.

Lack of Confidence is No Excuse

Do you really think Hunger Games author, Suzanne Collins, or Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, were marinated in creativity before they started to write? J.R.R. Tolkien was correcting exam papers before he started writing The Hobbit.

The truth is that no one feels as if they have this amazing ability. And even if they did, writing a first draft will definitely trounce that confidence.

I had ideas in my head for years before I finally sat down and tried writing my first novel.

So what causes this feeling that just stops us from writing?

Fear of Rejection

We fear our writing won’t be good enough, than our words won’t amount to anything, that our story won’t be any good.

With so many great writers out there, the bar is set pretty high.

But this problem happens not because of all the great writers in the world, it happens because we compare ourselves to them. Worse, the comparisons we make inevitably lead to procrastination..

You might not feel ready because your favourite author just released another book that is being talked about all over the internet, or because you fear your writing will never be as good as that amazing novel that you just had to add to your collection.

So that’s why, after all the research, after all the webinars and workshops, you haven’t started yet.

Now these things are great to have under your belt, but they are not necessary to actually start, or finish, your novel. So what’s the one thing you absolutely need?

Passion

You have to be really passionate about your story to write a novel. You have to want to know more about your characters and what happens next.

When I’m working on a manuscript, I could be in the gym, pushing weight to failure, my tongue lapping out of my mouth in fatigue, and I would think, “So what happens to my protagonist next?”

You already have a great story, so why should your doubts hold you back?

Quit Stalling

You don’t need to take a webinar, you don’t need to have a degree in writing, you don’t need to walk around saying huge words that would send your friends to the dictionary, or be perfect with grammar.

Sure, grammar is important for a polished novel, but it’s not important for your first draft, which is a significant milestone all on its own. Grammar isn’t even important for your second draft.

Remember, you’re writing a bestselling story, so focus on the structure. Who is your protagonist? What’s wrong with her life? What conflicts will arise? How will she evolve and grow towards the end?

So stop thinking, “If I could only do this course,” or, “One day I’m going to try.” Those are not your thoughts, those are the thoughts of fear. Replace them with your thoughts of passion.

Do You Have This Passion?

Answer yes to these question and I guarantee that you are ready:

  • If you’ve ever read a story or watched a movie and thought that you could have made it a lot better, then you are ready to write a novel.
  • If you’ve ever experienced or heard of a situation, or read an article, and thought that it would make a great book, then you are ready to write a novel.

Nobody writes a bestseller on their first try. And it takes practice in order to get a book that is presentable to the world.

All you need is to be passionate about your story.

So if you satisfy that single criteria, then grab a laptop, grab a chair, and start writing. The time to write is now.

Are you ready to write a novel? How do you know whether you know or not? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes about that conflict between the two characters and the consequences that arise.

When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments and leave feedback for your fellow writers.

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  • Maria

    That was incredibly awe-inspiring. Thank you very much. Personally, I am always going on thinking about my main character, the villain, and the other characters as well (telling all the time about them to my sister, just as if they were alive – though to me they are).
    At the moment, I attend my fourth year at uni, studying for a law degree, even when I am there, ideas run on my head about what is going on with them.
    I was, up until now, filled with scary thoughts about writing a novel. As English is not my native language, I am always afraid of the grammar mistakes I tend to do while writing. Last year I finished, this year trying my best on the second draft. Again, thank you very much.

    • http://jknightsworld.wordpress.com/ Jevon Knights

      That’s great Maria. You actually remind me of myself before I started writing my novel. And the grammar for your comment looks good so that shouldn’t be a problem. Keep writing and good luck with your law degree.

  • Cody Westle

    Procrastination. That’s a terrible affliction. I’m super passionate about my world I’m creating, maybe too passionate. I’ve spent the last three years creating it. I really do need to get my ass in gear and start working on my novel. Thanks for this post Joe. I just hope it doesn’t turn into one of those scenarios that goes like this: “Oh that article was truly inspiring I should start writing” and weeks go by with no change!

    • http://jknightsworld.wordpress.com/ Jevon Knights

      Hi Cody. With three years in the making, it sounds your world is ready for the world to read. Looking forward to hearing more.

      • Cody Westle

        Definitely, going to give NaNoWriMo a shot. Something to keep me in check. Something other people should probably check out if they’re feeling like they can’t stay on target. I’ll provide a link:

        nanowrimo.org/

        • Christy

          I just signed up for my first year of NaNoWriMo.

          • Cody Westle

            Awesome! Good luck. If you’re looking for someone to chat or beta read for you let me know. Like I said this is my first year and I don’t have the slightest idea what I’ve gotten myself into. Another fresh face would be good

          • Christy

            You can add me on NaNo. My user name is WritingMama16. I haven’t figured out how to search for other members yet.

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