Here’s the Motivation to Write Your Novel (Here’s… | NY Book Editors
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Here's Why You Should Write Your Novel Now (Not Later)


You have an idea of a novel. Most of us do. But studies show that only 1% of us will actually publish a novel. What a shame!

While most of us are sequestered at home with nothing to do but watch Netflix and worry, take advantage of this time and write your story. You don’t need any special qualifications to write and your story idea doesn’t need to be perfect (we can shape it up later). All you need is to make the commitment.

Still not sure if you should do it? Let’s explore six reasons why you should write right now.

There's Never Been a Better Time Than Now

Motivation to write your novel

2020 has been a wild ride, hasn’t it?

But remember that nothing sparks creativity like chaos. This sudden and severe shift in our daily routine forces us to see things differently. Some of us grow sentimental while others focus on the future. There’s a story in both.

Instead of wishing for another time, embracethis time as an opportunity to finally write your story idea. You may be stuck in the house, but you can go anywhere in your mind. Write and take us with you.

Writing is Therapeutic

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Writing is cheaper than therapy?” It’s a clever phrase that also happens to be true.

Many writers have confronted and exorcised their demons through the writing process. It’s impossible to write fiction well without being honest and vulnerable. Even though you may not be writing about your own story, every novel contains autobiographical elements.

When you write, give yourself permission to pick apart painful memories. It will be an emotional experience but ultimately a cathartic one.

Writing is also therapeutic because it gives you a daily routine— something that you can depend on and look forward to. That bit of certainty and structure can assuage the anxiety brought on by daily life in the 2020s.

You Can Make Money

Should you write a novel purely for financial gain? Of course not. However, can money motivate you to finish what you’ve started? Absolutely.

But let’s be realistic, here. You’re probably not going to make millions of dollars off of your debut novel.

On average, first-time authors who work with a traditional publisher typically receive between $5,000 to $15,000 as a book advance. While you can also earn royalties on your book (generally $1.25 per copy sold), your book will first need to earn enough to pay back the cost of your advance. If that doesn't happen, you won't receive more than your advance.

If you self-publish, you'll get to keep a higher percentage of your royalties, which is, on average, 60%. For a $15 book, you'll keep $9 (minus the cost of printing). Of course, self-publishing requires that you do your own marketing.

Whichever publishing option you choose, you will probably make some money, even if it’s only thanks to your loved ones.

By the way, if you write more books, you’ll likely make more money. (Readers love book series!)

You Can Learn a New Skill

While some people are born with natural writing talent, aptitude alone doesn’t guarantee a well-written novel.

Fiction writing is both an art and a science. Anyone can learn to write a captivating tale because it’s a skill. The art part comes after you’ve mastered the skill and are able to add your individual expression to the story.

By tackling a writing project, you’ll learn a set of new skills, including how to:

  • Spend time in quiet contemplation
  • Express yourself in writing
  • Cling to and properly use a thesaurus
  • Plot out a story from beginning to end
  • Write dialogue that moves the story forward
  • Create breathing characters
  • Build tension
  • Create conflict
  • Edit your story ideas
  • Improve your grammar

Additionally, you'll learn a lot more about your subject matter because you'll spend so much time researching it.

The more you write, the better you’ll become— that’s a guarantee.

You Can Self-Publish

Motivation to write your novel

Once upon a time, if you couldn’t get published by a traditional publisher, you’d have to work with a vanity press that charge exorbitant prices to print your book. Thank goodness that we’re living in a brave, new world now.

If you don’t think your novel will be accepted by a traditional publisher, then you can publish on your own— for free.

After writing your novel, you can go on to publish it without securing an agent and crossing your fingers that a traditional publisher will want to work with you. That’s a relief if you’re an author who worries that your book isn’t “mainstream” enough for the Big 5 publishers. (As a side note, also consider going with an indie publisher. Small presses often accept unconventional manuscripts and may be easier to work with than a big-name traditional publisher. For our top picks on indie publishers, click here.)

You Can Write a Shorter Book

Your first novel doesn’t have to be a magnum opus. Even if you’ve spent years of your life toiling and typing away at it, there’s no reason to put so much pressure on your first novel to be great. The most important this is to write your novel.

Your first novel doesn’t have to be a magnum opus. The most important this is to write your novel.

And, to be honest, what you write down first is probably going to suck. But that’s okay because you’re not going to publish your first draft— you’re going to publish the revision. So, take chances.

Also, consider starting small. Who says you have to write an epic masterpiece or even a full-length novel? Start with a short story or even a collection of stories. Or, if you prefer to focus on just one story, try your hand at a novella.

A novella is a short novel (or a long short story) that’s between 15,000 to 40,000 words in length. (The average novel is between 50,000 to 80,000 words in length). Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Stephen Kings' Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea are all examples of novellas written by famous (and famously verbose) authors.

Writing a novella is less intimidating, especially when you’re just starting out.

Practical Tips to Start Writing

Now that you’re fully convinced to write your novel, here are tips on how to do it:

Create a Writing Schedule

Set a schedule for writing. If you’re just writing whenever you can, you’ll never complete your novel— at least not in this decade. Pencil in time every single day (including the weekends) to write. It’s also a good practice to write at the same time each day. Getting into the discipline of daily writing will serve you well on those days when you just don’t want to write.

Set a Timer

It’s hard to sit down and write for hours at a time. If you’re like me, you have the attention span of a fruit fly. Try as I might, I’ll burn out if I attempt to write for longer than 30 minutes straight. Every half hour or so, I need to take a 5-minute brain break. Add breaks to your writing time, too.

Write Whether You're “Inspired” or Not

You’re not always going to feel inspired to write. If you want to actually finish your novel, you can’t wait for inspiration to strike. You’ve got to get started and let inspiration catch up to where you are. Inspiration is not dependable at all. This is why it’s important to work on a schedule.

Create a Daily Writing Goal

Give yourself a daily and specific writing goal. For example, one goal may be to write 1,000 words each day. It may not seem like a lot, but by the end of a month, you’ll have written a novella’s length, and by the end of two months, a full-blown novel. Creating a writing goal gives you something to shot for so that you’re not just writing in the dark.

Final Thoughts

If you have a story to tell, no one will ever be able to tell it the same way that you can. Don’t wait until a perfect moment. There will never be a better time to write. So, get to it!

Before you get started, here are a few resources that may be able to help:

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