Everyone wants to write a book. Everybody has thought about it at one time or the other. People have different motives for doing it (fame, telling a story, money…). The truth is, however, few succeed. The number of people who manage to write a novel is scarce, much less is the number of those who publish one. Therefore, before writing any book, a novelist needs to ask himself several questions.
1. Why Do I Want to Write this Book?
“Why?” is one of the most important question a person can ask himself prior to doing anything at all. In this case, knowing why you want to write a novel puts things in perspective. Are you in it for the money? Fame? Love of the written word? Or are you trying to prove something to yourself?
Knowing why you want to do something helps keep you motivated all the way till you finish that book. And, if the motivation is strong enough, it will help you power through the editing process and the long wait for an agent’s or publisher’s reply.
The key here, however, is to be realistic. Tone down your expectations and focus on your book. Writing a novel is a great learning experience; however, it may not be a great “earning” experience.
2. Can I write this book?
This is not meant to question a writer’s physical ability to type 55K+ words. It is, however, meant to help a writer take an honest and realistic approach at his or her ideas. Many people are struck with ideas that seem brilliant at first. Sometimes the ideas turn out to be ridiculous when reevaluated; other ideas still seem genius. However, there is a difference between a good idea, a great idea, and an idea that can be developed into a novel.
The difference is simple. It lies in the plot, characterization, and the subplot. Yet, many writers make the mistake of assuming that a good idea is all it takes to write a good book. Wrong! Ask yourself, can I write this book with the mere idea I have in mind? Can I stretch this idea for 300 pages and still make it interesting? If the answer is no, don’t give up. Simply spend more time plotting.
3. How Much Do I Know About the Subject?
Another important thing is to be sure you have enough information about the subject. A book, like any other piece of writing, requires extensive research. What does your protagonist do for a living? Is he a detective? Do you have enough information about how detectives work? And I don’t mean information you learned from watching movies… Researching sometimes requires traveling to the location of your story, interviewing people in the same line of work as your characters’, and reading several fiction and non-fiction books.
So before you tackle that novel, ask yourself: do I have enough information about the subject I’m writing about? If the answer is ‘no’, then do more research. The better you research your book, the less time it will take you to write it, and writers’ block is less likely to catch up with you.
4. Can I Commit to It?
Like everything else in life, the flare of the new dims after a while; that’s why it is best to write that novel as quickly as possible. That, however, doesn’t mean putting pressure on yourself to write it in a month. It just means that you need to commit to your project.
This is easier than you think. Pick a time in the day when you are usually not working, cooking, or taking care of your children. No matter how little time in the day you think you have, believe me, it’s enough. An hour spent effectively is better than eight hours wasted staring at a screen.
During the day, think of what you’re going to write, let the plot progress in your head, and take notes so you won’t forget. When the time comes to write, take a quick look over the notes and commence typing.
Writing a novel is a BIG project. Like any other project, it takes motivation, planning, knowledge, and commitment. Chances are, if you have the motivation and commitment, you will find a way to achieve the other two. The most important thing is to take your time with the process. And remember that great things take great sacrifices.