I remember how I always stayed away from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird my whole life, mostly because I thought it had to do with killing birds ._.
I wouldn’t be that pissed if you don’t want to read any further.
But when a friend of mine made it clear that it definitely has nothing to do with killing birds, just people, I picked it up the next time I was at the bookstore. To my surprise, I did quite like it in the beginning. It was very descriptive as all novels should be, and described places and things I didn’t understand in words that were way out of my vocabulary. I still liked reading it though. Now remember, I’m just talking about the beginning.
By the end, things had changed. I remember how I felt something I hadn’t for any book I had ever read before. And no, it wasn’t something like – oh, this writer is a genius – or something like – that was one deep story.
I think I’d just use one word to describe what I felt – warm.
Yeah. It sounds pretty weird when I put it that way. But I guess you gotta feel it the way I did to understand what I’m saying.
I remember just appreciating everything that I had read and feeling warm. It felt like I was home. Home, in spite of the fact that the story/setting of that book is nowhere close to how/where I live or ever lived. So. Well. I still don’t understand why I felt that way. And I don’t even understand why I’m trying to make you understand this. But, I just didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to keep reading more and never put that book down. No matter how many times I reread the book, it just wasn’t enough. I needed more.
Until that day I was only a part time blogger and a full time student, trying to become a full time storyteller somehow. After that book I just knew I could never give up on novels. I had written novels before but the whole idea of working on something for years that nobody gets to read had started to get to me and I kinda gave up.
However, the fact that I could make somebody else feel the way Harper Lee had made me feel through her book, just stunned me. It was all that mattered in that moment. Even if it were just one reader, it’ll still be worth it. Maybe that one reader will find better words to describe what I had felt as they read mine.
So, here’s why I believe every Writer needs to Write a Novel –
Limitless Possibilities to Your Story
Novels teach you what storytelling is all about by letting you limitlessly explore your own mind. Unlike screenplays and blog posts where there are a lot of rules as to when and how and where something should be, novels can be whatever the hell you want it to be. Nobody controls where the story goes. Except you. You are in full control. And as writers, we’ve gotta cherish the rare moments we get to be in control.
Not that Limitless though
I wouldn’t call it a word limit but it is a word limit. Nobody wants to read a 500,000 words novel. I mean they might. But you’ve gotta be Tolstoy for starters.
Go write one if you think you can though. I don’t wanna be the one discouraging you.
Structure to Your Story
Whether you completely believe in the “beginning, middle and an end” rule or not, you will have to believe in some sort of structure for your novel. You know what that’ll teach you? To get your shit together as a writer. To add only what you need and delete the rest. That’s some pretty hard lesson to learn right there.
Facing the Demons
Though facing your inner demons seems like a pretty good point too, I was talking about literary agents and publishers. You’ll understand when you face them yourself.
Learning to Fail
Failure becomes a routine and there’s nothing else that prepares you better for life.
The universe takes its own time. First you’ll want to blow your head off, then you’ll run around in circles and slowly you’ll just learn to stay calm and constantly tell yourself, “Someday. Someday they’ll see.” The key is to have faith. And writing a novel teaches you how hard it can get to stay in faith.
Finding Your Voice
As much as it’s more probable that the first time you try to write a novel you end up mimicking a favorite author of yours unintentionally, but as you keep going you start to pick up the little things that you’d like to keep and throw out the rest and before you know it, you’ve molded your own style of writing. And as you’re writing that first novel – though it might have to go through a lot of editing to make it readable – you can watch the progress you’ve made as a writer and give yourself a pat on the back. Writers need that, you know. Self assurance and faith in themselves. And the realization that they can always get better.
The Power of Showing Up
The more years you spend being a writer the more you realize certain things that separate the amateurs from the professionals. One such thing is understanding the worth of showing up. As amateurs most tend to enjoy the moments when inspiration strikes much better than anything else. But as you grow as a writer you stop relying on inspiration. Not that you don’t need it. Every artist needs inspiration. But suddenly getting a great idea is nothing compared to actually getting yourself to show up at your desk and face the cursor blinking on a blank screen as you have nothing to type. That takes courage and only with time will you see the importance of that, and the power that lies in simply showing up. The day you consider the act of showing up and trying hard for hours higher than any good writing that comes automatically, will be when you will surely know you’re here for the long run in this profession.
Where does writing novels stand in this? Well, writing novels isn’t the only thing that will teach you this. Blogging, article writing with a deadline, all of it can do the trick too. But one thing that makes writing a novel stand out here is that – when it comes to a novel you’re writing something you love very dearly, so you assume it shouldn’t feel like work. And hence, you tend to shy away from showing up unless you know what you’re going to do it. As you keep writing you’ll learn how wrong you were. And that shall be the moment you realize that even writing about something that close to your heart will have to be dealt with like it was work to keep it going.
After all, writing is more than art. It’s a craft.
I think Steven Pressfield said that. I don’t remember.
Me trying to be interactive –
Are you working on a novel? Do you want to start? Don’t tell me about your novel, I don’t want anybody copying any ideas around here. But tell me what inspired you to start writing it.