“Why do you write?” This question faces any novelist a lot of times during his career. I believe most of novelists find this question funny! You can’t ask a lion why it attacks its preys. You can’t ask an eagle why it flies. These are their nature. The same applies to writing for novelists. They just find themselves writing, and they can’t leave it. It is just like breathing. It is their main obsession that controls them.
Most of the times writing becomes the most important thing in any novelist’s life, even if it is not his main profession. A novelist keeps thinking about writing all the time, all day and night. He keeps looking for new ideas for his novels in everything, even in the tiniest details around him. When he is writing a novel, he keeps thinking about its events, how to write them, and what the best words to use are.
“How to become a professional novelist?” is another question that novelists might face. Well, if I have to answer this, I will say, “Each professional novelist has his own way!”
Nevertheless, I believe there are certain characteristics that distinguish a professional novelist from an amateur writer.
Firstly, to become a professional novelist, you must be ambitious. You must love writing and dream big about it. You must wish to prove that you are the best, or at least among the best. There are hundreds of novelists in the world, and you have to be the sun among them.
Moreover, patience is so important. Writing is not an easy profession. If you think you will succeed in a couple of days, you have to reconsider it. In fact, you need a lot of months at least. Most likely you will need a lot of years, before you are among the well-known writers. Being a novelist is not just about being good in narration and language. It is not only about talent. Finishing a novel is only the first step. After that, you have to revise it and edit it many times, as it needs to be in the best shape possible. Next, you have to send well-written queries to a lot of agents and publishing houses. If you get accepted eventually, and this is very difficult, you will have to start to advertise your novel. This may take a lot of weeks and months.
In addition, you must have self-confidence. When you submit your work to agents and publishers, you have to be sure it will be rejected a lot of times. So, you must have confidence in yourself, and know that you are good. You should believe those rejection are merely of personal tastes of ones who read it. You must not become a captive of desperation and frustration. However, at the same time, you should be humble. If agents tell you your manuscript needs to be better, you should think seriously about that. If your manuscript is accepted, and lately an editor sends you some notes about it, you have to accept them, and try your best to improve your novel. If after publication, you get bad reviews and harsh criticism from readers, do not look to them as enemies. In fact, they might be your best friends. They are your best way to improve as a writer, and to write next novels in a better way.
Finally, this profession needs sacrifice. It will affect your life. It might affect your family. It might take your time and even your money in advertisement. It also might affect your job if you are not a full-time writer. So, you must understand that before writing gives you, it takes from you.
I believe these are the main traits of professional writers. What do you think about them? Do you think there are other characteristics to add?