5 Reasons Why Novelists Give Up Their Dreams (and How to Avoid Them)

Books & WritingProductivity September 10, 2014

There are tons of aspiring writers, but so few of them become published authors. Of course, it’s a cut-throat world and, with e-books and self-publishing, the nature of publication is in flux. But why, with so many writers in this world, are so few able to really achieve their dreams of becoming a full-time, career writer? How do you avoid giving up on your own dream of writing?


1. Writers live in their minds

You’ve no doubt heard many authors who have written their book after being inspired by a dream. Fiction authors tend to have the ability to create beautiful, graphic, surreal stories in their minds. The reason that building your story in your mind can be dangerous is because by the time you try to put the pen to paper and write out the story, the words may seem to fall flat on the page. Some writers can build a fictional world, could tell you the color and materials the buildings are built with, the names of all of the characters. Unfortunately, even authors with impressive vocabularies and unarguable writing talent are discouraged when writing their story. Making up the story is often the easy part, but describing it and holding that visual on the page is much more difficult. Don’t let this excuse hold you back. Just keep writing the story, no matter how flat it seems to fall compared to your mental creation. First drafts are just drafts and you’ll have numerous drafts to revise it until your story lives up to your own expectations.

2. Too many stories to tell

We all fall victim of this at one time (or all of the time). There are simply too many stories to tell. How can you focus on just one, when another is writing itself in your head as you read this article? Many authors end up failing to complete their novel because they’re too busy starting seven more. Avoid this downfall by jotting down a brief description of your next story on paper when it comes to mind, then quickly returning to your main story. You have a lifetime to write your next novel. Harness your ability to complete your first one, first.

3. Your story takes an unexpected turn

No doubt you’ve already started building your story in your head. Maybe you’ve mapped it out on paper with charts and you’ve already structured the story’s timeline of events. You start writing, and your characters start heading in another direction. You keep trying to reel the story in to fit with your planned structure, but the story is taking a natural turn in the opposite direction. Be flexible! Allow your story to write itself. Just because you’ve plotted it one way doesn’t mean it has to turn out that way. The characters you’ve developed live in the world you’ve created for them, but if you allow them a little free will, they might lead your story in an even more exciting direction.

4. Life gets in the way

What a dream it would be to have an infinite amount of time and money, and no distractions with which to really write your story. Reality check: most people have bills, lives, families, friends, jobs, pets, etc. Life is not free of distractions. Don’t hold yourself to an unrealistic schedule. Of course, if you’re already working with a publisher and an agent and they need your work done by a certain timeline, you’re in a different boat. But most of us writing our first novels are on our own clocks. Write when you have free time. Jot down ideas while you’re at your day job. Daydream when you can. But don’t give up writing. Don’t get discouraged. Your novel may take a few months, it may take a few years, it may take a decade. It’s fine to take a month off and then return to your novel. The only one on a timeline is you. Allow your story to develop, and don’t let life get in your way. Just keep writing as much as you can when you can. Someday your work will pay off.

5. Someone else did it first

Don’t plagiarize. Under no circumstances is it okay to plagiarize. Maybe you had an amazing, brand new, mindblowing idea for a story. Maybe you were halfway through your book when a member of your book club tells you they just read an amazing, brand new, mindblowing story, that happens to sound just like the book you’re writing. The world’s been around a long time. People have been writing for a long time. Chances are a similar idea to your plot has been considered and written about in the past. But guess what – no two stories are exactly alike! As long as you don’t plagiarize, don’t get discouraged. After all, Stephanie Meyer based the Twilight series loosely on Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Fifty Shades of Gray was fan fiction based on Twilight. It’s all been done before, but no one has ever done it like you!

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