Top ten reasons why you shouldn’t write a novel

Or, to be more specific, the top ten things stopping me from doing something great with something I love, things you might struggle with too.

I’ve been battling an every growing need to create something big, something that makes me proud and something that exists as my tiny dot on the map. But, more than that, it’s that I’m bottled full of stories and I just gotta get them out of my system. So here’s a condensed list of my tiny growth-stunting fears (fears you might share) and rationalisation to help you, and to help me, push them aside.

Fear of criticism

Now, even I know this one is just a battle I’m eventually going to have to face. If you create something and present it to the world you will undoubtedly become a subject of criticism and praise. It’s unwise to get swept up too much by either one of these responses. Even the greatest, most renowned artists and creators have their critics so, if you’re working on something you believe in, take both criticism and praise with a pinch of salt and just work to keep improving your product because in the end that’s all you can do. But you shouldn’t be put off by a bit of fear – in fact, fear is a good indicator that you’re taking your goals seriously. In the words of good ol’ Aristotle “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing”, so do something.

Lack of time

Hello? Lack of time? This is not a thing that should stop you – this is a logistics thing and with careful planning and time management it can almost always be negated. At this point I’ve written 43 blog posts with over 600 words in each of them. That equates to roughly 25,800 words which is approximately two and a half times my undergraduate dissertation. It feels like nothing because it’s all in bite-size little chunks. My theory is, if I apply the same writing goals to a novel as I do to this blog, I could (theoretically) write a 40,000 word novel in less than a year without even breaking a sweat.

Check out this TomBird article if you still don’t believe me. You have time.

Everything has already been done

The Seven Basic Plots concept has been putting off writers for years and whilst it stands up to tests and is a relevant bit of theory, it shouldn’t stop you writing. There are billions of versions of each of those basic plots but that doesn’t mean that the story is the same. Vampires have been done over and over and over again but we’re all still watching The Vampire Diaries and reading Twilight. Go with your story and make it your own. Self-doubt can often hold you back here – have faith in your ideas, even if it’s already been said, you can say it differently.

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It’s a daunting task, it’ll probably be too difficult to write that much. 

Well, for one, you probably can and , for another, it’s time to stop looking at your project as a quantity of words and start looking at it chapter by chapter. Chunking your writing into manageable blocks can be a helpful place to start.

Fear of failure

“everyone else is doing it, I don’t stand a chance”

well now, that’s not true is it? You’re not doing it, and for every moment you’re not, someone else might be plucking up the courage to start something. And that something may not be as good as what you can create, but since you’re not doing it they will succeed and you will not. You’ve got to be in it to win it and setting yourself goals is the way to get there. Your first attempt may be a complete failure, or even flop half-way through but you’ve got to have perseverance and patience if writing is your game – trying is half the battle.

My Ideas are bad

Yep. They might be, some of them at least. The writing process is a journey and you’ll probably have some pretty basic ideas to start with; even some bad ones. Later on you’ll be able to recognise issues in your writing and rectify them so you can improve. I’ll probably look at this post in a year and cringe at its cliches or lack of clarity but that shouldn’t stop me from writing it now. Use your less interesting ideas to help shape your writing and see if, through words, you can make them better. Epiphanies and best-sellers aren’t something you can just pluck from your head; you have to wait until you’re frying an egg one day, shampooing your hair, absent-mindedly,  or staring at the dark ceiling at 3 in the morning – that’s when the ideas are destined to arrive.

I don’t know anything about publishing

Well, so what? neither do I but that doesn’t stop me from writing something incredible. Write first, the rest comes later.

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I’m completely unqualified to write a novel

Deep down we all know that qualifications aren’t the be-all and end-all of writing ability, but sometimes it just takes a little reminder. Writing is a learned craft, one that takes practice and dedication – people are seldom ‘born-writers’ but rather they learn through doing, and through loving what they do. Having a degree or a PhD or working in a relevant field does not give a person more of a right to publish a book – there are no “minimum credentials,” or “licenses,” required to express yourself in this way so don’t let it stop you. If you love to write, write.

I’m just not ready

Well, that’s okay, so long as you can tell yourself why. As I’m writing out and thinking about all my reasons (or excuses) I’m fast discovering that I may be holding myself back out of sheer fear.

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I can’t keep motivated

Excuses, excuses, excuses – it’s all excuses, if it’s truly something I (or you) want to work towards then I have to make an effort to make it happen, sometimes it just takes a switch of perspective. Motivation is cruel and hard to maintain but once you figure out a way to keep yourself from falling out of love with your project it can be easy. A lot of motivation is born out of habit – try starting with a simple routine and see where you end up.

If you’re in the same boat, I’ll give you the same advice I’m giving myself:

If you can’t even fathom out where you should begin: just start writing, I used this book for prompts initially but you can use anything that gets you inspired. Now, I use this blog – when you get used to writing every day it’s easier to consider a bigger project.

There are lots of things I never thought I’d be able to do, and I’m not done proving myself wrong. Sometimes you’ve got to give yourself a kick and just make something happen and that’s why I’m making these the top ten reasons to start writing something today.


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 – Cat –

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