If you are considering writing a book, the first question you might ask is: Is writing a book hard? Well, that entirely depends on your definition of hard. I think digging holes in the road is quite a hard job, but I can be averse to physical activity, so that may play into it.
Starting a book can be very easy, but the lead-up to writing the first words can be difficult, and seeing it through to the end can be even worse. But lots of people do it – so why is it so tricky?
Why is writing a book so hard?
Do you have an idea for a book? Great! Get started! That bit is easy. However, a major stumbling block for many people is that they want to write a book but don’t know what to write about. It may be that they are writing purely to make a profit, which can make it difficult to come up with an idea.
There are many ways to find ideas, and I’ll cover those methods in another post (probably…), but if you are writing to make so money it is difficult to gain momentum writing about something you have no real interest in.
These are the two factors that kill a book before it is written – being unable to decide what to write about and lacking the motivation to get to the finish line.
Is writing a book hard with a plan?
Yes. Oh OK, yes, but it’s less hard. Once you’ve picked your topic or decided on what your novel will be about, it can be tempting to sit down and start churning it out. For some writers, this works, especially for fiction, but not so much for me. That’s not to say I don’t deviate…
For a factual book, it can be worth defining your chapters before you begin. Just titles are fine, and you can fill in the gaps as you go along. At least you know where the finish line is.
If you are attempting a novel, there are many ways of getting to the end. For The Ghost Under The Stairs, I had a basic cast of characters in my head who would be in it. I also thought about how I wanted it to finish – my task was to get everyone from point A to point B.
I broke the story down into a three-act play (to tie in with the theme of the story) in which at the end of act 1 and 2, something happens that seems to make everything worse. The end of act 3 brings the resolution and the happily-ever-after.
Within each act, I then knew where the characters would begin and where they had to get to by the end of the act. I wrote a summary – just a few words – to guide me through each chapter.
Unfortunately, by the second chapter of act 3, I knew the ending wouldn’t work, so I changed it. I had to go back and make a few changes in earlier chapters, but it made the book work better.
By the end of the book, I knew the characters very well, and writing the second full-length installment in the series was quite simple…or so I thought! I knew what I wanted to happen and how it would all finish.
During the writing process, conversations between characters started to go off at tangents. The content was entirely relevant and correct as far as their personalities went, but they were talking among themselves. I was no longer in control!
This caused the ending to change and several subplots to develop organically, and it was a very interesting and exciting experience. With every new novel, the characters become more alive to me, and it’s fun to see what they’ll get up to next.
From this point of view, writing a book is not hard – but getting to the very end can be.
Is writing a book hard with the end in sight?
The last few chapters are the hardest. You know what’s happening, you know where it’s going, and it becomes a bit of a slog to get there. Come on, you think, you all know how this is going to finish – do I need to write it?
YES! Yes, you do. This is how many manuscripts become abandoned, with just inches left to go. The author can no longer summon the energy to put the effort in, but this is the most vital stage – if you can’t finish it, YOU CAN’T FINISH IT!
Without completion, you will always wonder what could have been, and you’ll never know if your book could be profitable.
Writing a book is not easy, and finishing a book is hard. But in the end, it is certainly a worthwhile pursuit and one that I would recommend to almost anyone.