Why Your Novel Isn’t Written Yet

novel.jpgWhen we announced the start of a new series focusing on fiction writers, we were surprised at the reaction we received. It seems many of you have a novel up your sleeve, hiding in your files or tucked away in your thoughts. Reading the comments readers left, I couldn’t help but wonder…

What the Hell are You Waiting For?

Writing a novel is probably the easiest thing in the world to do. There are no outside barriers that stop you. You need skills and talent, yes, but you can learn much of that on your own. Nothing else stops you. You have the time to write a good piece of fiction, no one is staring over your shoulder, and the opportunity isn’t blocked by any outside obstacles.

Except for yourself.

Find the root of the problem. Why aren’t you writing? Why are you stuck on dreaming about a goal that could easily be achieved by simply deciding to get started? There’s no money involved, just you and your time.

And yet, we procrastinate creating that novel of our dreams. I know – it’s taken Harry and I five years to finally get off our asses and do something about the content we had sitting right there.

Start Small

One of the biggest issues Harry and I had wasn’t the writing – we wrote, and prolifically. We have enough content to span five novels easily.

No, our problem lay in the overwhelming goal of WRITING A BOOK. That was huge. It was big, scary and looked like a damned lot of work. So we cheated ourselves out of the chance to do something we really wanted to do. We found excuses. We procrastinated. We started and stopped, putting the project off for faster, smaller goals.

But the 10-minute method solved a wealth of problems. We weren’t WRITING A BOOK. We were deciding which segment would be the end of Book 1. Then we were splitting up chapters. Then we were editing chapter one – hey, I can edit 10 minutes a day. Easy.

Two weeks later, we have half of the editing done. It took us five years to put ourselves onto a path that took two weeks to accomplish some serious milestones. All we needed was to break down the overwhelming task into little bits – and to work on one task each day.

Will You Regret It?

When you’re 90 years old, rocking in your chair on that sunlit porch of the old folks’ home, will you look back and tell your grandchildren, “Yep. I was a writer. And boy, was I ever stupid. I never wrote that novel… and now it’s too late.”

Boy, I bet those kids’ll look up with absolute adoration in their eyes. Here’s Grampa (or Gramma), a person who skipped past trying because he was too busy, too scared or just too damned lazy. What a way to inspire people, hm?

I’ll Never Be Published

True. Your novel may never see the light of the bookshelves and may never be read by the masses. You may never become famous. You may never be a bestseller author. So what?

People attach unrealistic dreams to writing a book. Writing a novel is a personal goal, but the goal may not even be writing a novel. The true goal you seek may be fame or fortune. There is neither in book writing (unless you’re Stephen King).

So Harry and I take a different view. We hope, yes, and we joke about sipping margaritas on the beaches of Tahiti, but we’re realistic in that we may never make a dime off our novels. We might have to use self-publishing. We may end up posting our book for free on a blog somewhere.

Who knows? More importantly, who cares? Because Harry and I decided that we didn’t want to regret not having taken that chance. And we also decided that if we didn’t become famous or rich, that was just fine – we wanted to write a book to fulfill ourselves first and foremost.

The Pressure’s Off

What a novel thought. (No pun intented). Writing a novel is a personal goal for you and you alone. You’re writing for yourself and no one else. You may be the only reader your novel ever has – and that’s okay. What is important is that you’ll look back one day and have no regrets. None.

Take away the pressure. Don’t be afraid or overwhelmed. Start small, work 10 minutes a day, and write for yourself for the single goal of having no regrets.

There is no fear when there is no one else to please but you.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.