The advent of self-publishing means everyone’s doing it, it seems. Amazon has literally millions of books for sale and the number is increasing every day. Millions of people chasing a dream even though the vast majority will never make a living out of it. I’m not going to give a load of depressing figures about how little money most writers make, or how many make no money at all. If you think that you’re going to make a fortune as a novelist I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself. Yes, it is possible for some people to be full-time fiction writers, but not many are living in lovely houses and driving a Ferrari. And the hard truth is that most writers will need a second job, sizeable savings or an understanding partner.
So why do we do it then? Why bother to write a novel? Why have I written two so far and why am I getting up at the crack of dawn every day to write a third? Why am I planning a series of posts designed to help you write your novel if the chances of success are so small?
Well, there are plenty of very good reasons to write a novel, and, if you go into your writing with a level head and realistic expectations, then why not give it a go.
- It’s great fun. Really. If you don’t find it fun, or at least really enjoyable, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. What makes it fun? Getting stuck into the research and finding out things you would never have known. Going on lots of research trips. Crafting beautiful sentences that make you sit back and smile to yourself (even if you then cut them out because you know they’re pretentious). Getting involved in worlds and places and with people and situations that are out of reach or unrealistic in real life. Escaping.
- It’s completely selfish. Completely for you (at the early stages at least). Make a list of all the things in your life you have to do. Cleaning the toilet. Ironing. Going to work. Filling in a tax return. Clearing up dog sick (I’ve done his four times today because someone fed the dogs roast potatoes). You get the idea. But writing your novel – that’s proper you time.
- You can let your imagination run wild. You can say things, do things, write things that you could never say or do in real life.
- You’ll have achieved something. Something tangible. I’ve known lots of people who say they’re going to write a book. I worked with a man once who’d had the same book going for twenty years. He’s still not got round to finishing it. If you can find the self-discipline to make time, to knuckle down and write a whole novel, that’s a real achievement. You’ll have done something pretty amazing.
- You’ll become part of a lovely writing community full of supportive readers and writers and bloggers who will give up their time to help you and offer advice, just because they love reading and writing as much as you do.
Have I convinced you? Are you raring to go? Great, then I hope you’ll enjoy next week’s blog post – Writing a novel: Preparation for Plotters and Pantsters.