Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Become a Novelist

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As writers, we tend to have a certain mystique. I wish I had a dime every time someone said, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer!” But the truth is that not everyone has what it takes to write books for a living.

So for those of you considering the profession, or who are already here and are considering getting out, here are 10 reasons NOT to become a novelist!

1. You want to make a lot of money. Truth is, writing books, I’m still not breaking even. Freelancing is a different story. But books, well…not so much.

2. You chose this profession because you mom said you were the best writer ever. There are a lot of reasons to become a writer, and family support is important. But truthfully your mom probably isn’t an unbiased advocate.

3. You want job where you can stay at home and have a life. I work harder and put in more hours as a writer than I EVER did at a traditional job. Writing is my life.

4. You want fame (to go along with the fortune in #1). There are more ways than ever to find your 15 minutes of fame. But writing a book isn’t one of them.

5. You enjoy talking about writing more than the actual writing. Writing groups are full of these folks. They enjoy the creative atmosphere, but are unwilling to actually sit down and commit words to paper.

6. You want to do something where you’re the boss. Yes, you will be working for yourself, and writing novels does give you control over how you schedule your time. But once you begin selling a project, everyone else seems to have more input than you. Your agent, your editors, even the bookstores carry more weight than you.

7. You don’t take criticism well. Professional writers know the best way to get better is by listening—with an open mind—to suggestions. None of us like being told we can improve. Professional writers want to get better more than they want their egos stroked.

8. You hate to read. Good writers read. Argue all you want, but that’s just a fact.

9. You can’t stand rejection. Editors and agents reject manuscripts for a variety of reasons, and it often has nothing to do with how well written it is.

10. You can be satisfied doing something other than writing. The truth is, if you can imagine doing anything else, do it.

How about you, can you add any more reasons not to become a novelist to my list?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. Number 8 poses a reverse problem for me - I LOVE to read, and often I get so caught up in one great novel after another that I fail to write!

    1. Amanda, that really is a GOOD problem to have! Blessings, E

  2. 11. It's easy. All you have to do is write, right? What could be easier than that?

    12. It's romantic. Don't all writers sit in idyllic locations, sipping fancy drinks, and gazing out at the ocean?

    1. Carrie Lynn, excellent additions! Blessings, E

  3. Fantastic list, Edie, and I love Carrie's add-ons (I modified them a tad--sorry, Carrie):

    11. You think all you have to do is sit down and write, and a perfect novel magically appears. That initial manuscript is called a rough or first draft for a reason.

    12. You think the noveling life is romantic, like it's in film and television. (For me, it's guzzling coffee I made instead of sipping fancy drinks served by a cabaƱa boy, sitting in a kitchen instead of on a tropical beach, and gazing at the dishes and laundry I need to do instead of the ocean.)

    All of them hit home, but #10 . . . that's my life. I can't not write, despite it being the ecstasy and the agony. I publish because I might as well take it across the finish line, right?

    Thanks, Edie, and kudos on an awesome article.

    1. Jess, I loved these! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

  4. Edie, I'd change number 5 to recognize that, although we hear all the time that writers love to write, the truth is that writers love to have written. Maybe that's why some of us would rather talk about it than do it.