Many people dream of writing a novel, but for most of them that's as far as it goes. The mere fact that you are reading this page shows you are willing to make your dream come true.
But do you have what it takes to finish a novel and publish it?
I mean, dreams are all well and good, but realism has to kick in at some point. I used to dream of being the lead singer in a band. Trouble is, I can't sing and I haven't got a musical bone in my body.
That's why I haven't wasted my time and effort on it.
Will you be wasting your time and effort writing a novel? It's important to know the answer to this right here and right now.
Later on in this section on becoming a successful writer, I take a detailed look at the whole question of motivation - or how to ensure that your writing days are a pleasure and not a chore.
But this advice will be useless if you have a nagging doubt in the back of your mind that you do not have what it takes to succeed as a novelist.
The good news is that writing fiction to a publishable standard is a lot more achievable than you might believe.
As a matter of fact, if you don't want to read this article because you're worried what you might find out, be brave and keep reading anyway. The chances are that you wouldn't have taken things this far if you didn't have the right credentials.
Let's kick off by busting a couple of novel writing myths...
No, it doesn't. Really. Most published writers have got where they have through a little raw talent and a lot of hard work and determination, not because they are geniuses living life on a different level than the rest of us.
Novel writing is not some highbrow art reserved for the intellectual elite, but something that any reasonably intelligent and creative person can succeed in.
Don't believe me? Here is the novelist Stephen King on the subject...
And here's another one from the writer John Irving...
Hard work and stamina - those qualities are crucial. (I'll be talking more about them later in this article.)
Of course, some raw talent is essential. But here is why I am convinced that you have what it takes to succeed...
If you dream of becoming a professional musician or a world-class golfer, extraordinary talent probably is essential. But unlike playing the violin or hitting little white balls with clubs, using language and telling stories is something that everybody does from an early age.
Taking this natural skill one step further by writing novels is simply a logical extension of something we all do on a day to day basis, without even thinking about it. And that is why I have yet to come across a beginner who is without sufficient talent.
Have faith in your natural writing abilities. And have faith that, with time and practice and knowledge, your talent will lose its rawness and allow you to write professional, publishable prose.
If you still believe that you will never be able to write prose like Hemingway or plot stories like Stephen King, remember that all writers, even the greats, had to start somewhere.
Just like you are now doing.
And remember that your aim is to be your own writer, not imitate writers who have come before you. Readers want unique voices, not copy-cats.
Be yourself. Trust in yourself. And understand that, when people tell you that writing a novel is difficult, they don't know what they're talking about...
If you feel that I'm trying to blow sunshine up your skirt here, I promise you I'm not.
Writing fiction is challenging, certainly, but it is still very do-able. With the right attitude, motivation and a little raw talent, it is something that anyone can succeed in. You just need to go about it the right way...
How? By breaking the mammoth task down into lots and lots of mini-steps, none of which are difficult in their own right. It's like building the Great Wall of China...
So that's the first lesson: Build your novel stone by stone by stone. They soon add up to something substantial and awe-inspiring.
The second take-home point is this...
Find a good blueprint to follow. Laying a single stone in a big wall might be simple, but without an overall strategy you could end up with a wall in the wrong position, or one that can't support its own weight.
In novel writing terms, you need to know what specific steps you need to carry out, and the order in which you need to complete them. And that is where Novel Writing Help comes in...
Many guides to how to write a novel cover the various tasks you need to perform - create the characters, plot the novel, and so on - but they don't say how they all fit together.
This website (in particular the section on How to Write a Novel Step by Step) makes everything crystal clear: First you do A, then B, then C...all the way through to the end.
And because none of these individual steps is difficult in its own right, writing a novel as a whole is not difficult either - another myth busted!