I firmly believe that being able to write books belongs to everyone and it’s my mission to make the necessary skills accessible to everyone. That said, sometimes the answer to the question “should I write a book?” is “no… not yet”.
First, let’s clear something up. When I talk about “writing a book” in this post, I mean writing it with the purpose of sharing it with other people, possibly with the goal of getting paid for your writing. But if you want to write books just for your own amusement and you have no intention on sharing them with anyone, I give you full permission to not care at all what I think. You do whatever pleases you.
With that out of the way, here are a few signs that you’re not ready to write a book (quite yet).
You’re not entirely sure what your story is about
So let’s say you have an idea and you’d like to write a book about it. But does your story take place in a dystopian world or in a fantasyland? Are you writing for children, teens or adults? Is this a novel or actually a memoir? You kinda need to know that.
The tone of your story is something you need to know from the beginning, and you need to stick to it. Is your story serious but hopeful, or is it a sad story with a few humorous moments? Figure that out before writing, or be prepared to rewrite your story – almost completely.
You should also have a clear idea of who’s the protagonist of your story. There are stories with multiple main characters with their own points of view, but even then there is usually one that is THE main character. The most important reason for knowing this is that your character’s wants and needs are the meat and bones of your story. If you don’t know THOSE, then you don’t actually know what your story is about.
You think you know all there is to know about writing
But hey, maybe you already knew all that. You’ve always been a good writer after all, and surely writing a book is no different from a few creative writing exercises.
The thing is, a writer’s work is never done. That doesn’t just mean that there are always new things to write, it also means you’ll never learn everything there is to learn about writing. There’s ALWAYS room for improvement.
If you’re a perfectionist, you might find it depressing to think that you’ll never be able to write a perfect book. But the great news is that you have almost an infinite capacity to improve and learn more. The only thing that can stand between you and becoming an even better writer is thinking that you already know everything.
Writing a book is a process, and a big part of that process is fixing things that don’t work. If you think that there’s nothing to fix because you’re already such a great writer, I’m afraid that the quality of your writing will suffer A LOT. In addition, if you want to be a professional writer, it will require you to work with multiple people and accept that sometimes someone else knows more than you do.
You don’t want any critique
People are going to have opinions about your book. There’s no escaping that.
If you look up any of your favourite book’s reviews on the internet, you’re bound to find one-star reviews among them. Pride and Prejudice? One-star reviews. Harry Potter? One-star reviews. And yet nobody is writing those reviews out of spite – they’re simply sharing their experience with the book.
There is no contesting someone’s personal experience and no point telling them they’re wrong. It’s also good to remember that reviews are not for the writer, they’re for other readers so that they can make the right choice before buying a book.
Do you want to write for everyone? Then you’ll probably write for no one. Anything that is designed to appeal to everyone is probably so bland that no one will love it, and I’m guessing you don’t want to waste time writing a book that is meh at best. Let me reiterate: it is a GOOD THING that somebody doesn’t like your book.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re allowed to have feelings about any reviews or critique you get. That’s normal and human. But if you think bad reviews are inherently malicious and you want to control how people talk about your writing, you’re simply not ready to share your writing with the world.
You can also learn from critique
Not all critique is just a question of taste. Especially when you’re working with professionals like an editor, it is their goal to make your book as good as it can be. You don’t have the skills to be the best at everything related to writing, and even if you did, you’ll eventually become blind to what you’ve written. It’s completely normal. Even professional editors need editors.
Your readers can also have totally valid critique even if they’re not professional writers or editors, and since you’re writing for THEM, you might want to listen to them. You really don’t want to be that author who dismisses well-written, critical reviews pointing out problematic elements in your book just because you don’t want to admit being in the wrong. I’ve seen this happen and it’s gross.
You want to write a book as fast as you can
Another sign that you’re not quite yet ready to write a book is that you just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. Being able to finish things and seeing the results of your work is nice, but if you want to write a great book and not “just a book, I guess”, you do have to give it all the time it’s going to take.
If you’ve never written a novel before, you probably don’t know what an undertaking it is. It is an entire journey with twists and turns that can be hard to anticipate, and it’s also a process with multiple, equally important steps. Not everyone’s process is the same and it’s always going to look different when you’re getting published, but if you would like to get a general idea of what writing a novel really entails, I have written a post about my writing process.
You don’t want to edit your book
Outlining your novel might be optional but editing it definitely isn’t. People who are completely new to writing might think that you can just write a story from start to finish and then call it a finished book, but unfortunately it isn’t quite that easy!
Editing your story usually takes longer than writing the first draft does. I know that’s something that many beginner writers don’t want to hear, but I think it’s nothing but good news. It gives you so many chances to improve your writing.
When I talk about editing, I also mean revising and rewriting. Those are things that you have to do for your story and you can’t outsource them, unlike proofreading which is just a small part of editing a book. And all of it is necessary.
What to do when you’re ready to write a book?
So maybe reading this blog post made you realise that you really ARE ready to write a book. Now what?
If you want to save yourself countless hours and avoid most writing-related headaches, you should join us in Writing Your First Novel. It is THE novel writing course for people who want to start their writing journey on the right foot and write a book they can proudly share with the world.
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