This is a series of posts for aspiring writers, established authors, and anyone inbetween. To take a look at what goes into a novel before, during and after it is written. Please feel free to comment if you have helpful advice that will contribute to making this post more beneficial to everyone out there. Or, post a question and I’ll try to find an answer!
In post #1, a lot of people commented on where they get their inspiration for novels. But mostly we concluded that inspiration is important and necessary. Other equally (if not more) important assets to have when writing a novel are dedication and commitment.
I keep reading this statistic everywhere that says around 80% of people out there want to write a book. I couldn’t narrow it down, except to stumble on more sites that said this exact thing (Erma Bombeck's Writer's Workshop and The New York Times among others). And then, on more than one site, I kept finding a quote by Kevin Alexander (who writes articles for Writer’s Digest) that went:
"Statistics say that almost everyone in America is working on a novel. But how many of them will actually finish it? The percentage is so small that it doesn't even compute on nonscientific calculators.”
I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is any way that inspiration alone could make these 80% of people actually complete a full novel. There is far more to writing than inspiration.
It takes dedication and commitment. This comes in many forms. You have to be willing. You have to be okay with sacrificing time—family time, alone time, television time, many things that might be important to you. You have to commit to getting through one day at a time, even if it only means writing a 1,000 words a week (which equals out to be just about 4 pages). The average novel is 80,000 plus words. That means it may take weeks upon weeks, sometimes years to finish a book.
The quickest I have ever written an entire book is in less than two weeks. The longest it has taken me is over two years. Typically, it falls somewhere inbetween. There are times when there is so much inspiration and something inside me is just driving me on to complete a novel in record time. But just about all the rest of the time, it’s simply about making a commitment to work on a little each week or each day until completion.
Many writers use tactics like setting a specific word count for each day or each week. Some set a long-term goal of having their book finished in a certain amount of months. It’s something that is different for each individual writer but each and every one has to dedicate themselves to their particular project and work through the tough times, the discouragement, the writer’s block (if you believe in that--I don't!), and any other opposition that might come along.
This is not to discourage new writers or writers that are currently working toward finishing something, just to say that writing is like a job. You have to show up if you want to see the end result. It helps to want to be there and you have to stick it out even if it’s hard.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. And that is completing a novel. If you truly believe you are called to write, if it is something you want to do when you wake up or go to bed, if it is something that you enjoy or something that you just can’t seem to stop doing, and if you can commit yourself, then completing a novel will happen. (Wow, that was on big run-on sentence. Sorry). And when you get to that final page, it is one of the best feelings in the world. No matter what happens after that (publication or not) you can revel in the fact that you finished something important. And you did what “they” say nearly 80% of people want to accomplish but never will.