writing | writing tips and tools

How to write the perfect novel (or not)


What is it about writers and self-doubt?

I don’t think it would be a long stretch to say, that every writer and author struggles with self-doubt and lack of confidence at one stage or another. Even authors with multiple publications and ongoing publishing contracts under their belt suffer from this affliction.

Why is it we are all trying to write the perfect novel?

Why is it, we pore over our work meticulously ripping it to shreds in the pursuit of the perfect prose, the foolproof plot, and the faultless climax and resolution?

We scour the internet, intensely study writing craft books and join writing classes to glean the light-bulb moments on how tackle the perfect writing process. In order, of course, to write the perfect novel.

I wonder if the publishing game is the only industry in which it’s members doubt their own abilities so often?

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and along the way I’ve certainly struggled with self-doubt and lack of confidence. There’s been many times where I’ve talked myself off the ledge and into continuing on. I’ve told myself it’s normal to feel this way; to doubt one’s self and to feel inferior to other writers. But, still it rears its ugly head.

Then the other day, I had a bit of an epiphany. I asked myself:

“Why am I trying to write the perfect novel?”

Why can’t I simply just make it the best that I can do.

Isn’t that what we tell our children? “It’s okay, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be the best you can do?”

The conversation in my head continued.

“But if I don’t write the perfect novel, I won’t ever get published.”

The thing is, a book doesn’t have to be perfect to be published, it just has to work. It just has to read well to someone (or a team of someones), to make them want to take a chance on publication.

And of course, there’s so much more in play when a book is taken on by a publisher. Timing, luck, a gap in the market. But that’s not all either.

Being published isn’t the holy grail. It isn’t the announcement that you have written the perfect novel. There are thousands of readers out there that will all have their point of view on whether the book is ‘perfect’ or not, and rarely, will it receive a perfect, glowing review. Some will love it, some will think it was good, some will think it was mediocre. And some will hate it and claim that it is the worst thing ever written.

There’s no such thing as the perfect novel. So, why try and write one?

I just simply need to write the best novel I can.

And to spend the time making it the best it can be, put it out there and see what happens. And if the silence is deafening, I need to keep writing. Try the next idea. And repeat the process.

So that’s what I’m going to do.


Does perfection get the better of you sometimes?


Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT