Writing a novel is fantastic idea and (almost) everyone loves an enjoyable tale. But why then do relatively few people pick up the pen and write? And what makes those people decide to write a novel? Well, after spending the last decade writing a fantasy novel, I have a fair idea of the two least known reasons why people decide to write a novel.
Reason 1 – The Spark
A person’s imagination is like a fire. It may just need a spark to get it going (and fuel to keep it going).
The first of the two least known reasons why people decide to write a novel is what I call ‘The Spark.’ The Spark is the quintessential ingredient to kick-starting a person’s desire to write a novel, as it fires up the imagination. This spark can come from anywhere, at any time, and from the most surprising of sources. It may be something that the new writer reads or sees, or by a comment someone says, or a combination of two or three of these. Who’s to say?
People can never be certain of when their mind will be ignited. But one things is for sure – they will know when it has.
What Was The Spark For Me?
The spark that lit up my mind (and made me decide to write a fantasy novel) came in the autumn of 2008, when I was 21 and studying history at the University of Birmingham. That year, I read a ten-part fantasy saga. I had always loved (and still love) the genre and had been excited to read this particular saga as it was (is) one of the classic fantasy stories, written by a highly-respected fantasy author.
And I was disappointed. Really, really disappointed. I thought the story was cliché, predictable and boring. It was during one of my many episodes of boredom whilst reading it that I thought to myself: I could write a better story than this.
And that was it! That was my spark!
Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said that the spark drove me to start writing my fantasy novel immediately. Because it didn’t. To start a novel, one needs a fire in one’s belly hot enough to turn the wheels in the mind. On its own, a spark cannot do this. It needs outside assistance to ensure that the spark builds up into a roaring fire, so that it doesn’t flicker out like a dying ember and kill off the desire to writer.
Reason 2 – The Push (Of Motivation)
‘The Push (of motivation)’ is the second of the two least known reasons why people decide to write a novel. For example, when William Golding told his wife about his idea for his most famous novel, Ann responded: “That’s a first class idea! You write it!”
William Golding (1911-93, left), author of The Lord of the Flies, and Ann Brookfield enjoying a day out in the English countryside.
Ann’s response was not the spark that made Golding write The Lord of the Flies. Indeed, he may have written the story regardless of what Ann had said. Nevertheless, Ann’s response was the push that made Golding sit down and write the story.
After writers decide to write a novel, they will often speak to someone they trust to discuss the idea of writing a novel. The said-trusted person will likely respond by:
Looking wide-eyed at the writers and wondering if they have lost the plot (pardon the pun);
Tell the aspiring authors that writing a book is a stupid idea (and that they should get a real job);
Shrug his/her shoulders and say that he/she is not bothered; and/or
Give the thumbs up and offer encouragement.
Any of these responses could push a (figurative) barrel-load of gasoline onto the spark in the aspiring author’s mind. Consequently, this will generate the heat that is required to begin writing.
What Was The Push Of Motivation For Me?
For me, this push, the second of the two least known reasons why people decide to write a novel, came in the form of my father. Unsurprisingly, nothing beats my old man’s wisdom. Again, back in 2008, when I regaled him over the course of one Friday night dinner about the aforementioned fantasy saga; how it had disappointed me; and that I felt I could write a better, more exciting story, he fired back: “So what are you waiting for? The world is full of people who say that they can do something, but never actually do anything.”
My father’s pearl of wisdom that gave me the (metaphorical) push to start writing my fantasy novel, back in 2008.
As soon as he said that, energy surged through my veins and I just knew from that moment on that I had to write a fantasy novel. I had read a lot in the genre; had studied history at university; was passionate about mythology and movies; had a vivid imagination; and had always enjoyed creative writing. Suddenly, writing a fantasy novel seemed like the perfect way to combine my knowledge and my skills; as well as a way of enabling me to give back to the genre the joy that it had given me over the years.
Questions For The Reader
I hope you have enjoyed this blog piece. Likewise, I hope that you have found it useful and that it helps you on (or begin) your writing journey. If you are a writer, it would be great to find out:
If these two reasons spark to write a novel, and what was it?; and
If anyone has ever told you that you could (or could not) write a novel, and how you reacted to it?
Lastly, please leave your answers in the comments below and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. Otherwise, see the next blog piece on how to approach writing a novel.
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