If all you want to do is write, go for it. You don’t have to get permission or a license. All you need is a pencil and paper or maybe a computer depending on how serious you take your endeavor. If writing a novel is a future goal, then writing is one way to hone your skills. Many professionals recommend that you start out small. You could write an article for the local paper or a magazine, and even consider a blog. Blogs not only improve your writing skills, but also help build the platform and resume you will need later when approaching an agent/publisher.
If you do want to write a novel, you should know it’s hard work. Those people who say, “Anybody can write a book, how hard can it be?” They’ve never written a novel and most definitely never had one published. Writing isn’t just putting pen to paper, but I’m preaching to the choir. Writing is a skill that you develop through years of practice. As I’ve mentioned in another blog, you don’t just wake up one day a brain surgeon, just like you don’t wake up one day an author. Just because you want it, doesn’t make it so. You have to pay your dues and learn the craft.
When I began this process, I completed my story and sent it to five literary agents. I was really proud of my work, I had a great story. I was now an author. Or at least I thought so until the rejections started flowing. One of the agents did take the time to tell me what wasn’t working-which was pretty much everything. My dialogue dragged, I had numerous grammatical and structural errors, and I was head hopping. I almost forgot the on-the-nose writing. The only thing she liked was the premise itself. I didn’t know author-eese, What in the world was she talking about? I had to back track and learn the proper way to write. I have to admit, I’m still learning, but I now know exactly what she was talking about for each of the areas she cited.
Another thing to keep in mind, your first novel probably won’t be a masterpiece. This is true of every writer of every first novel. That does include Nicholas Spark and J.K. Rowling. Keep in mind you are learning the craft as your write. You will need to understand how to work dialogue, pace your book, construct a plot that is plausible and cohesive, build tension, and create characters that your reader likes and can relate to. Experts say it takes about 10,000 hours of writing to prepare you to write a publishable novel.
I don’t meant to discourage anyone. I just want to make sure you know what you are getting in to. Most books take 5-10 years to get published. I’m on year 5 so maybe I’m approaching the finish line 🙂 I sure hope I was a fast learner. If this is what you want to do, improve your skills by reading and writing. Yes you need to read. I would also recommend that you take classes, attend seminars, research, and join writing groups (Scribophile is a great option). You will get there. The biggy is DON’T GIVE UP!