Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.
Do you need an excuse to write your novel? Do you hide away in your home office at night, ashamed to admit you’re working on a book? Do you keep the details of your writing life secret, safe from the ridicule or censure or even the praise of family and friends?
While you may want to keep your projects private, there’s no reason to hide the fact that you write. Quite respectable people do it. Yes, upstanding citizens around the world are right now working on their first or third or tenth novel. And they like doing it. Writing satisfies a need in them, maybe two or three needs.
Writers tackle novels and other long fiction for any number of reasons. And one writer may have 3 or 4 reasons to try that first novel. Another writer may cite one reason in the morning and another in the evening, both equally valid.
Whatever is behind the reasons, they serve to keep us writing, keep us at our task. And if that task is self-imposed, if you’re not writing to deadline for your publisher or someone else, you might need a reminder of those reasons to keep you on track and motivated. Well, if not always motivated, dedicated to the task. Eager to see the results.
Anxious to finish the thing.
Reasons to write a novel
1. To challenge yourself, prove you can carry through with a complex, long-term project
2. To prove to someone else—teacher, parent, mentor, spouse—that you can do it
3. To fulfill a dream
4. To have something to brag about at reunions (I never said these would be altruistic reasons)
5. To fulfill a contract. If you owe your publisher another book, write it.
6. To perfect your writing skills
7. To have something special to pass to your children and to theirs
8. To get on the New York Times Bestseller list—if you don’t write, you don’t place
9. To do something your brother/sister/best friend/worst enemy has never done
10. To satisfy the craving to create worlds and/or manipulate events
11. To become famous
12. To silence the voices demanding that their stories be told
13. To make something from nothing
14. To use the gift that burns inside you
15. To honor a writer you admire
16. To be a bigger success than a writer you detest
17. To present great truths in fictional form
18. To fulfill course requirements for a writing program
19. To learn appreciation for literature and other writers
20. To entertain
21. To make a living
22. To leave a legacy
The reasons are many. And varied. And all valid.
What stirs you to write is a legitimate reason for you to put pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—and create characters, events, and worlds never known.
If your ambition is strong enough to see you begin a novel, to give up time and other pursuits, if it’s long-lasting enough to see you through multiple drafts and endless revisions and hours of research, then your ambition and the reasons you write are powerful forces indeed. Forces strong enough to withstand doubt and ridicule and interruption and fear and every other challenge that rises against the writer. Challenges from friends and family. Challenges from outsiders.
Challenges from within.
Remind yourself that it’s okay to write. That creating has value. That story is essential for both individuals and society.
And remind yourself that your writing, whether what you produce sees a wide audience or not, fulfills a purpose in your life.
Meeting the needs of others is important, necessary.
Fulfilling your ambition—satisfying the needs that drive you, that make you who you are—is equally important.
You may have many reasons to write.
You don’t need one single excuse.