During National Novel Writing Month, aspiring writers challenge themselves to write a novel of 50,000 words or more. I decided to chat with a professional novelist — Nina LaCour, author of YA hit Hold Still and this year's Everything Leads to You — to find out if this is a good idea. Good news: she thinks it is. Find out five reasons to write a novel now.
1. It's fun.
"Writing is difficult and can be frustrating, but it's ultimately fun because you get to create and inhabit this other world for a while. I have my own life, and then I get to live the lives of my characters. It's almost like you gain experiences by imagining people's lives."
2. You learn new skills.
"My characters [in Hold Still] are in high school photography class, so I learned how to develop film in a dark room. I learned something that I never knew I would learn because my characters were doing it and I wanted to write about it in an authentic way. I enrolled in a class and learned how to expose and develop photos."
3. You get to know yourself.
"It's a process of discovery. When you're writing a novel, you're learning stuff about yourself and about the rest of the world. You're trying to grapple with big human issues and pushing yourself and growing and learning. It's a great feeling of being inspired and creating art, which I think is one of the greatest joys in life."
4. You can join a community.
"I'm in a writing group. We meet once a week and we talk about what we're working on and we cheer each other on. It's really awesome to have that support structure. We hold one another accountable for our goals, and everyone's going through the same anxieties. Writing a novel lets you become a part of a community."
5. It's rewarding.
"What surprised me the most is the way people responded, how they would talk to me as if my characters were real people too. When I was all alone writing the first draft of Hold Still, I had no idea that my character Caitlin would grow to become as important to other people as she was to me. That is true for published and unpublished work. As long as other people are reading what you've written, then your characters will take on a different light."
And one reason not to: because you're looking for a payday.
Nina says, "Write a book because writing a book is great. What happens next is less important than the act of writing it. Don't write a novel for fame and fortune. Some people get really lucky, but most people still have day jobs."