Why Writing a Novel is a Good Thing–Even if You Never Get it Published

Yeah, so, you want to write a novel.  And you're even thinking of doing Nanowrimo this year. (Nanowrimo = National Novel Writing Month, just in case you don't know, and it's in November.) 

But then the voices begin:                             


The dreaded blank page.

You'll never get published.

Why bother?

It's a waste of time.

You could be doing other things.  Worthy things.

You think you can write?

Who do you think you are to write a novel?

And so on.  I'm sure you know the variations.

But I'm here to tell you otherwise.  To inform you that writing a novel, in and of itself, for no other reason than to do it, is a worthy activity.  It is.  Even if you never get published.  (Which, with all the publishing options we've got these days, you probably will, one way or another.) And here's why:

1.  It's a creative act.  And the world needs as many of these as we can get. Creativity breeds creativity, just as energy breeds energy.  Who knows what spending time writing this novel might lead to?  It might lead to a best-selling novel, or an amazing idea in another area.  And, it doesn't matter if that doesn't happen because the simple act of sitting down to create is important.

2.  Novels change the world, in big ways and in little ways.  Novels deliver stories, which we're hard-wired to accept, and stories change us.  Think of novels with grand, culture-baring themes.  Or remember how you felt the last time you read a small, intimate novel.  It changed you a little, didn't it?  And that's how changing the world happens–one person at a time.

3. Novel writing makes you happy.  At least it makes me happy.  I love it.  And I presume that it will make you happy, too.  Lest you think that happiness is an unworthy goal, remember that none other than the Dalai Lama says that happiness is the point of life.

4.  Writing a novel is an accomplishment.  The first time I finished a novel (it's the one sitting in my office cupboard)I was so amazed at how much oomph it took that I vowed to respect every single book ever written, even the crappiest romance novel.  And I do.  You should too–especially the one you're writing now.

5.  Writing a novel hones your skills.  And remember, getting better at one thing affects the way you do everything.  Improving your novel writing will impact your blog posts.  And your articles.  And your diet.  As the ancients used to say, as above, so below.

6.  Writing a novel helps you understand the world.  To write a novel, you must populate it with characters, and to create characters, you must understand people.  And, guess what?  People are what make our world go around.  Writing a novel helps you understand them.

7. It's your deepest, most heartfelt desire.  Don't let that desire go unanswered.  Go do it already. 

Here's what I recommend: create your own list of reasons to write a novel.  Name it the Novel-Writing Manifesto, or something a bit less grandiose.  Post it next to your computer.  Read it often–especially after something has shaken your confidence.  It'll snap you right back into a novel-writing space.

What are your reasons for writing a novel (or any project)? Do you use them to steer yourself back on course?

And if you feel you need a little help on writing that novel, why not consider a class?  My Get Your Novel Written Now class is starting up again in October (just in time to get you ready for Nanowrimo) and you can read more about it here.  If you'd like to read a review from a recent participant, go here to read Beverly Army Williams' review.  (Thanks, Beverly!) I'd love it if you joined us.

Image from Everystockphoto.

15 Responses to Why Writing a Novel is a Good Thing–Even if You Never Get it Published

  1. Zan Marie 09/07/2012 at 13:51 #

    I’ll add: Because these stories won’t leave me alone and they demand to be told.

    Good list, Charlotte

  2. Charlotte Dixon 09/07/2012 at 14:02 #

    Excellent addition!  Thank you, Zan Marie!

  3. Sandy 09/07/2012 at 17:25 #

    My main reason for writing a novel is I love disappearing into other worlds and what better world to disappear into than the ones I create.

    The other reason is the voices in my head just won’t shut up and i have to write down what they say! :)

  4. Beverly 09/07/2012 at 17:28 #

    Added to my weekend projects: “Write a Novel-Writing Manifesto”. You always inspire!!

  5. Charlotte Dixon 09/07/2012 at 17:48 #

    That's what I love, too, Sandy–being in a different world.  I literally get a tingly feeling inside when I'm in it, and later, thinking about it, the same feeling.  Thanks for chiming in–and good luck with your manuscript reorganization.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 09/07/2012 at 17:49 #

    Thank you!  And you inspire me, too! I love reading your tweets and your blog!

  7. Debbie Maxwell Allen 09/07/2012 at 19:38 #

    What a wonderful, encouraging post. I’ve known all along I’d write even if I never get published. Thanks for the pep talk.


  8. Giulietta Nardone 09/08/2012 at 05:05 #

    Hi Charlotte,

    A refreshing post! I especially like #6, it helps you understand the world. That’s a great way to look at it. I’ve been working on my book all summer. It’s going well, a lot of fun. And as you say a creative act we need more of!

    Thanks, G.

    I think you have the new word press commenting system that just won’t take my word press site. It boots me out of preview. Others are having similar problems on the Internet.


  9. Charlotte Dixon 09/08/2012 at 09:17 #

    You're like me, Debbie–gotta write no matter what!  Thanks for dropping by.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 09/08/2012 at 09:19 #

    Hey Giulietta, so exciting about your book!  I'm glad its going well.  I'm actually on Typepad so I'm not sure what's going on with comments. Hmmm, hate to think that people are being booted off, I love comments!  I'll investigate.

  11. Sandra / Always Well Within 09/09/2012 at 23:13 #

    Hi Charlotte,

    I think you are reading my mind! I don’t have a desire to write a novel, but I would love to know more about the mechanics. Your class is tempting me! All these reasons are fabulous too. I think if you have it in you, you must get it out!

  12. Charlotte Dixon 09/10/2012 at 07:30 #

    So true–if its in there, you must get it out, one way or another.  I think a lot of the techniques we talk about in the novel writing class apply themselves to all kinds of writing–the basics of story apply universally.  Would love to have you on board!

  13. Michelle 09/10/2012 at 08:40 #

    For me, writing novels is how I pay the bills, but long before I made a living as a novelist, I did it because I loved it, whenever I could carve out a couple of hours in solitude. zi still do it because I love it, although the pressure to come out with the next book in a timely fashion changes the dynamic somewhat.

  14. Heather Jenkins 09/11/2012 at 09:16 #

    Charlotte, can I just tell you that rock my socks? I LOVE your blog, especially your posts that get me thinking (dangerous, I know).

    Here are the reasons I am writing a novel:
    1. I’m in love with story.
    2. I’m in love with words and weaving them together in unique ways.
    3. I’m in love with chicken wings…oh wait, that belongs on another list…
    4. I love commitment and a novel is a long-term relationship.
    5. I read novels, so I can’t imagine writing anything I wouldn’t read.
    6. I can say no to invitations without feeling guilty by using the “I’m working on my novel” excuse.
    7. It gives me the opportunity to meet with people who share my passion and to see I’m not alone.
    8. I eavesdrop on conversations and tell myself it’s research.
    9. I’m in love with research.

    I’m sure I’m missing a few.

    Thanks again for presenting the information I need exactly when I need it!

  15. Charlotte Dixon 09/11/2012 at 10:02 #

    And Heather, can I tell you in return that your comments always rock the blog?  You add so much insight and humor with your list comments, I love it!  I can't wait to read your novel!

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