Writing a Novel is Tough

Writing a novel is tough. Writing a good novel takes everything an author has.  And getting that good novel into the readers’ hands takes talent, skill, patience, determination, guts, luck, favor, drive . . .

Most of us know the difficulties in getting a story to the page. We know about plot and grammar and punctuation and the elements of fiction. But knowledge alone doesn’t get a book written. And knowledge doesn’t tackle rewrites for us.

Beyond the writing and the rewriting, there’s the marketing. We have to sell the book and ourselves—tremendously difficult for some. We have to fight for our stories. If you’ve got one, your agent steps into the fight, leads the way or has your back. But if you want success, you’ve got to be involved in every step of the process.

It’s not easy, this writing gig. Not one single step of it. Not even the parts you’re especially good at. And even a contract is no guarantee of a happily-ever-after writing career.

I was just thinking about these issues, about the obstacles that align themselves against writers and other artists.

We fight for time to write and face thousands of decisions about the story itself. Then when the story’s ready, we tackle our fears, agents, first readers at the publisher . . . Once we’re published, we’re fighting for a place in the market and good reviews and readers who have hundreds of other options for spending their time and money. Then we fight against slumping sales or changes at the publisher or new delivery/publishing methods.

The challenges are never-ending. Never-ending. We don’t ever get to sit back and let reputation or some level of success take over. Reputation can’t write the next book.

They are formidable, these obstacles. But they can be overcome. And when they are, what sweet victory.

My hat’s off to you, to everyone who’s taken on the writing challenge. You already have successes behind you, and I’m certain more wait just beyond the horizon.

If you’ve decided that this is the year you’re going to tackle that novel, congratulations to you; you’ve conquered an obstacle. If you’ve finished a manuscript, you’ve conquered another. And if you’ve submitted your story to agent or publisher, you’ve already knocked down giants left and right.

Dealt with marketing, working to sell yourself and your manuscript? More successes for you.

If you’re at a place where the challenges ahead seem insurmountable, can I suggest that you look at the distance you’ve already come? How much you’ve achieved? And if you’ve only recently accomplished any of the steps necessary to get your first novel written and to the bookstores, can I remind you that you’ve done something unique? Something quite noteworthy. No, it’s not something that others haven’t done. But it is something you’ve never done.

And if you’ve done it a first time, what could ever hold you back from putting a second or third or twentieth novel into the marketplace?

Not a thing. I can’t think of one single challenger strong enough to stand against the combined strength of your dream and your drive.

Keep writing, my friends; your writing gift is fundamental to who you are. It’s not all you are, but it is tied to your mind, your heart, and your soul. It has taken root in the deep places. And as a result, we get to know those deep places.

And we are blessed.



About the author

Beth Hill. I'm a freelance fiction editor and I write medieval adventure and contemporary romance. And, yes, I've got a day job, too. But it allows me the flexibility to edit and write, so it's a good one. I blog at The Editor's Blog, where you can find all kinds of writing/editing tips. My editing Web site is A Novel Edit.

»» 3 Responses to “Writing a Novel is Tough” »»
  1. Kat Sheridan says:

    A most inspiring and timely article. I’ll be reading it again and again.

  2. Dale Cozort says:

    What you said, Beth. No step of this process is easy, even for seasoned pros.

  3. Kaleigh says:

    An inlnltigeet point of view, well expressed! Thanks!