Elaine Roberts Asks “Can Anyone Write A Novel”?
When I tell anyone I’m trying to write a novel, the response is nearly always the same. The first one is “I could write a book”. My response is to smile and give words of encouragement. I talk about attending creative writing classes, joining a writing group and writing associations like the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) New Writers Scheme for guidance and encouragement. After I have given my encouragement the conversation usually ends with something along the lines of “Maybe one day, I don’t have the time right now”.
The second and most popular one is “When’s your best seller coming out?” To which I often smile and say something polite and self-effacing but in my head I think, “If I was learning to play the piano, no one would suddenly expect me to become a concert pianist”.
Staring at the blank computer screen, I’m looking for inspiration, intermittently glancing down at the keyboard, panic is starting to set in. “What am I going to write?” my mind is as blank as the white page on the screen in front of me. “Oh God, I can’t do it any more, I’ve lost the ability to write a story!” This scene is familiar; it’s how nearly every writing session starts for me.
Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can read back over the last couple of paragraphs and that will inspire me to carry on writing. However, what usually happens is that I start editing what I have previously written and when I do that, I never seem to move past the first chapter, because I’m forever rewriting it. Personally, when I’m trying to get started, it helps me to write a couple of lines about a character or scene. It doesn’t have to be correct, just something to kick start my imagination and when I’ve finished I inevitably end up deleting those first few lines. A similar thing happens if I say I’m going to try and write 500 words, it’s amazing how the time speeds by and a few hours later, I will have written a few thousand words.
When I plan my work properly, I will have a scene/chapter plan, which will have ideas of what I’m trying to achieve with this scene and what I want to include, this will include the senses, weather and clothing being worn, I have been known to forget to dress my characters. All of this kick starts the thinking process.
Will I ever be the writing equivalent of the concert pianist? Probably not, but I like to think I started off as the Eric Morecombe style pianist, having all the right notes but not necessarily playing them in the right order. But hoping I can aspire to be the writing equivalent of Elton John, maybe.
So the question was, can anyone write a novel?
I believe anyone can, who is prepared to listen, take advice and exercise patience and perseverance, but above all else, be able to exercise their imagination muscle. It takes time and hard work but if you are like me writing is an irresistible pull, just like the chocolate sitting in the fridge calling me.