1. Do you have the talent to be a professional novelist? I don’t mean, does your mother or spouse think you are a good writer but is your writing on par with novels, short stories and magazine articles that you’ve read. Or could it be, after you’ve studied the craft of novel writing, written a novel or two and understand how to write a properly plotted story with realistic dialogue and well-developed characters. Have you let anyone read what you have written? Have you received positive, encouraging feedback from an English professor, magazine editor, agent or anyone who should know good writing?
2. Do you have a passion for writing? Like most creative undertakings, writing is a passion project, usually a lifelong endeavor. Real writers have been writing since they could hold a pencil properly--poems, childish stories, journal entries, novels and the like. It is a part of them, a natural expression of who they are. And they write for themselves. They write for free. They write because they love the idea of putting pen to paper (okay, that’s rather archaic) or fingertip to keypad and creating a story from nothing. Passionate writers write because they don’t feel normal if they don’t.
3. Do you have the diligence required to study and learn the craft of writing? Writing is not easy. Oh, writing can be easy but committing to edit, write and re-write until your literary piece is polished like a crown jewel is not. There is a structure or structures to learn, the right one has to be selected for your genre and story. Creating the correct novel structure is almost a geometric calculation, but once you’ve got it…you’ve got it. Themes must be subtly laced through your story. And there is a knack required to create natural dialogue and develop interesting characters. It cannot always be taught but certain aspects can be learned. You must read books on writing, take classes or both and then practice, practice, practice. You must let others critique your writing and then you have to turn an objective eye to your own writing and revise, write and then revise some more.
4. Are you disciplined enough to write novels? Writing is lonely work. Do you work well independently? Can you create and meet self-imposed writing deadlines? Do you have a writing schedule that you adhere to; measured in a daily or weekly amount of hours, pages or words you must meet? Are you committed to writing a novel that will knock the proverbial socks off an agent and compel a publisher to buy your work?
5. Can you persevere? Can you continue to write when it matters to no one but you? Can you continue to write in the face of constant rejection? Sometimes spouses and family members will not take your writing serious. Agents will like but not ‘love’ your writing. Book publishers will not be able to ‘garner the support’ they’d hope to for your novel. You will lose faith in your own abilities and commitment. But ultimately the writing race is not to the swift…but time and chance…
If you have answered all five questions in the affirmative, writing may be the career for you.