True or False: Novelists are airy-fairy, head-in-the-clouds individuals who can’t concentrate because they are constantly daydreaming.
|Daydreaming is important for
novelists, but it’s not the only
factor in a successful career.
This stereotype exists especially in those hallowed institutions of learning: high school and college. The students who are expected to be good writers are those who have a certain look, a certain reclusive attitude, and a certain moony eyed-quality while they repeatedly use artistic phrases, like “Zounds!” OK, maybe they don’t go around saying zounds, but shouldn’t that word be returned to our vocabulary? I think so.
I do not fit this mold, and I venture to say that most successful writers do not either. Sure, I do my fair share of daydreaming, but most people think of me as analytical, not creative. Apparently, I ought to be writing VCR instructional manuals, not novels.
In my experience, a good fiction writer must be willing to develop three traits: creativity, analytical thought, and determination, and no one of these traits should overshadow the others. There must be a balance.
Creativity: Writers of fiction must be creative. This is the character trait that most people associate with novelists, hence the stereotypes described above. Clearly, the ability to live in the imagination is critical to writers, but that is only the beginning of the act of crafting a novel.
Analytical Thought: In order to bring a novel into being, a writer must take their creative idea and mold it into something tangible. This is where writing technique comes into play. The act of writing involves a great deal of hard work and analytical skill; it doesn’t come from a muse or pour forth magically. It comes from thought and planning. The novel must be written with grammatical precision, characters must be given life in the pages, and the action must be paced to lead the reader to one inevitable conclusion. This takes labor and attention to detail.
Determination: The novel-writing process takes a great deal of time, and it involves the ability to face criticism and rejection. Writers must be focused on their goal, whether it is finishing their first novel or seeing it all the way through the process until it reaches the bestseller list. Very few writers achieve over-night success, but all of them face criticism and rejection. But writers must remained focused on their goal and be willing to forge ahead and keep trying until they meet it.
Many personality types can be great writers, even those that do not conform to the artsy stereotypes. Writing is as much about personal growth as it is about putting pen to paper. It is about challenging oneself to stretch and develop hidden parts of one’s character. Creativity, analysis, and determination must be balanced, and at least one part of this trio will cause most people to struggle during the writing process.
But take heart. As you craft the novel of your dreams, you will also be growing and becoming a more whole person.