Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Stay the Course

Even the biggest names in literature struggle to put words on the page—that’s the moral of a recent Wall Street Journal story entitled "How to Write a Great Novel."

Not surprisingly, the headline is a tease.  None of the 11 top authors interviewed for the article, including Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel (pictured above, courtesy Writers Pictures), actually tells how to write a good book, let alone a great one.  They all, however, talk freely about the challenges involved and how they deal with them.

Between the lines, the article shows that writing a novel is not all that different from pursuing other passions. Among a host of hurdles, these authors struggle with procrastination, fear of failure and the ever-present lure of the Internet.

Sound familiar?

The bottom line:  To write a novel, thousands of hours of hard work are required with no guaranteed payoff other than random moments of intense exhilaration and the satisfaction of having achieved a dream. 

Which, at least to my way of thinking, is (almost) compensation enough.


  1. We have to go for the warm fuzzies, as writing really doesn't pay when you consider time spent versus money earned!

  2. One can always hope for the big break. :-)

  3. Great post, Prill. For me, I have found my writing is a part of my cause... which drives my passion... and keeps me thinking about that next book. But, boy oh boy do I understand the procrastination and fear of failure! I have found as I do this more, it is about wanting to share Frankie's story with whoever wants to hear it-- those are the ones I am meant to touch. If at some point I get a big break, well that will be great too-- but if not, I am so happy with my journey to this point.

    Barbara Techel
    Author & Proud Mom of Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog

  4. You have such a wonderful cause to write about, Barbara!

    I feel the same way about my non-fiction. Fiction--that's another matter. I'm driven more by a need to tell a story and a feeling that I won't be able to look myself in the mirror if I don't write it than I am by anything else.

    Hope all is well. :-)