Since the completion of the polished draft and the printing of it in a book form, many have said they admire me for achieving this and how they wish they could write novels. It seems there are wannabe novelists all around us. I use the word “wannabe” in the best and most positive sense, as I consider myself one.
When I ask why they don’t go for it, they say they don’t have the language skills (style) or a story to tell. That is nonsense, obviously. Writing is hard work, craftsmanship and a bit of talent. If you can write an email reasonably well, you have all the talent needed. The rest, you can learn.
The hard work is telling yourself to sit down and write. Simple as that. Reserve an hour a day, two hours, whatever you can spare. You don’t have to type all the time. Scribble an idea on a piece of paper. Come up with a name for a character. What is his or her job? Create crisis that the character has to deal with. Before you know it, you have the beginnings of a story. Draw from your own experience or come up with something wild. Inspiration will come to you if you stay at it.
Story structure is important, especially for larger works, and I may cover that in a later post.
The skills and writing style comes as you type. Like everything, practice makes perfect. Your first story may be stupid and badly written, but the second will be better. The third is the best yet. And so on. Hone your skill, find your style and keep practicing. Don’t write a novel just yet. Write short stories, small things you can finish quickly. The novel will come when you’re ready for it.
Many people that admire me for having completed a novel are 10-20 years younger than I am. Needless to say, I hadn’t written anything noteworthy at their age. So, I’m no better than they are. I’ve just had more time to do this and get where I am. Don’t compare yourself to someone that wrote a novel at age 17. You are not them. You are you and things happen when you’re ready for them.
We are too quick to stamp ourselves “little me”. I am not a novelist. I am not a prime minister, a rock star, a great thinker. I am just a plumber, a ground stewardess, a bus driver. This way of thinking is flawed. You are your experiences combined with character. Your job description simply states what you do to make ends meet and has nothing to do with yourself as a person.
Have faith in yourself and be what you want to be.