5 Reasons you should dive into your first novel today

Welcome back. In today’s article, we’ll discuss 6 reasons why you should stop planning and dive into your first novel today. Let’s get into it.

To anyone familiar with my work, it may seem inconsistent of me to say you should dive into your first novel. In, 7 Reasons you should write for fun and not worry about publication [LINK], I seemingly state the opposite. Am I now contradicting myself.?

Not at all. I still think you should take your time with publication. But you should absolutely dive into your writing. Here are 6 reasons you should take the leap and dive into writing your first full-length novel today.

Practise, Practise, Practise

The first, and best, reason is practise.  You need practise and lots of it.  Your skills will never improve if you don’t stretch them to their limits.  Everything you write won’t be good.  In fact, most of it won’t be and that’s okay.  That’s how we learn.  By making mistakes, figuring out why it was a mistake, and learning how not to make the same mistakes again. 

But the real magic happens when we start learning from other people’s mistakes.  To rephrase a quote from John C. Maxwell, author of “Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Leading,”

“A smart man learns from his mistakes.  A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.  But a master learns from the success of others.”

John C. Maxwell

Analysis paralysis

Learning is great. This channel’s all about learning. I made this channel to help you learn the craft and I’m learning as much as you through these videos. I’m not bashing learning. But there comes a time when you need to put the books down and pick the pen up.

We tend to trap ourselves in a bubble. We learn and learn and learn. And when we can’t learn anymore, we find something else we didn’t know and fixate on that. In the end, we spend so much time learning the craft of writing, that we never practise the craft of writing.

We think we need to have perfect knowledge and flawless skill before we can start. Nothing is further from the truth. As the old saying goes, perfection is the enemy of progress. Perfection should never be the goal. The goal should be a competent expression of ideas and emotions. We’ll never get to that state of competency if we get bogged down in theory.

You don’t want to put garbage out there. I get it. Neither do I. I did that once and it wasn’t fun. But there comes a time when you need to fish or cut bait. At some point, you need to sit down and start writing. So, here’s a compromise that worked for me.

Create a short reading list of three to five books on writing. Read them, study them, listen to them on Audible. Do whatever you need to do. I have a list of good books on my website if you need a place to start. When you’re done, you will write something. Anything. I don’t care what.

Trust me, there are so many good books on the craft you’ll never put a single word on paper if you determine to read them all. The best thing is to read your selections for a little confidence boost and start writing.

And don’t worry if your writing is bad. It’s the first draft. It’s supposed to be bad. As Hemingway said;

“Your first draft of anything is shit.”

Ernest Hemingway

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; books aren’t written, they’re edited.

I’m not saying you should stop reading when you’ve finished your shortlist. On the contrary, you need to make honing your craft a lifelong pursuit. The nice thing about books on writing is each one will give you more book recommendations. By the time you finish your first shortlist, you may have a growing list of books it will take you years to finish.

I have a growing list I’ve gleaned from books, videos, articles, and writing conferences. It’s grown so large I probably won’t finish it until the day I die. As it should be.

Are you afraid?

Do you find yourself “meaning” to write for days or even weeks on end? Did you binge-watch an entire season of Cobra Kai rather than write that first chapter? If so, you may be afraid of writing.

That doesn’t mean you don’t love the story beating in your chest, and it’s more normal than you think. Crafting an entire world can be an intimidating venture. It’s normal to have jitters, but it’s not normal to surrender to them. If you don’t stand to face your fears now, they’ll overshadow your life forever.

It will paralyze you. Hold you down. Cancel your future, snuff your dreams, and squash your budding potential.

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

That’s why you need to start writing your novel today. To squash the fear and take control of your potential. And if you think you can’t, challenge yourself this way;

If you can’t do it, then you must do it. If you must do it, then you can do it.


When you start a big project, it’s easy to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Even experienced authors can feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, there’s only one way past this block, and it isn’t pretty.

You need to bite off more than you can chew… and then chew it.

There’s no better way to learn than diving in the deep end. You’ll make mistakes and flounder. That’s okay. I know you’re worried about turning out garbage. So am I. But there’s a place for that. Remember what Hemingway said. Your first draft of anything will be garbage anyway. So, relax and lean into it. Don’t worry about creating a perfect plot, engaging characters, or a tale to last through the ages. Pump out your garbage and learn from the experience.

Remember, you’re not under any obligation to show your work to anyone unless you choose to publish it. When you publish, you’re declaring that your work is complete and ready for critique. If you want to sit on a few unfinished manuscripts while you learn the craft, that’s perfectly fine. When you do decide to publish one of your manuscripts you can polish it in the edits. Try traditional publishing and let their in-house editors handle it, or self publish and hire your own editors


That’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Confidence in a skilled writer is great. Confidence in a novice writer… not so much.

That was my problem when I finished “The Bereavers Tale.” I had confidence out the wazoo, which is appropriate since my story read as though I had pulled it from there. What I lacked was humility. A little humility then would have led to where I am now, on a path of learning and discovery. Further, most likely, since I may have had several successful volumes under my belt by now.

But confidence in a skilled writer is a wonderful thing. You have an idea for a story, choose where you want the story to go, and go there. That’s not to say you never have doubts or questions. But you know you can solve them when they arise.

It’s like learning to drive. At first, you stutter on the clutch, stall your engine, and can’t keep a constant speed on the highway. You don’t know the streets, can’t navigate, and finding your way anywhere is a frightful ordeal. But then you get to practise. And with practise confidence.

You can get to most places with ease now. You’re not afraid of getting lost, because you know you can find your way out if you do.

So it is with your writing. You’ll still encounter blocks, and some sessions will still seem like a grind, but that’s okay. You’ve been here before, and you know how to find your way out again.

But the key thing to keep in mind is humility. Confidence without humility is a knife with a dull blade. If you try to use it, the only thing you’ll cut is you. If you sharpen your blade on the stone of humility, let it grind down your rough edges, your words will cut sharper than any sword


Just because you write that doesn’t mean you need to publish immediately. I’m asking you to dive into writing, not publishing. I go into more detail on why publishing too early is a bad idea in, 7 Reasons you should write for fun, [LINK]. But publishing too early can be a big mistake, even if you are successful.

The importance of practice comes in learning from your mistakes. Not just your mistakes, but the mistakes of others. And, when possible, the greatest form of learning comes in learning from the success of others. Celebrate with them and let their triumph guide yours.

Diving in will help you conquer analysis paralysis. Remember, “your first draft of anything is shit.” Perfection is the enemy of progress so, lean into it. Have fun and don’t worry about it until you return to it in the edits.

Or don’t. It’s up to you.

Your fear will cripple you if you let it. There’s no easy way around this except to face it head-on. Dive in, challenge the beast and you may discover its claws aren’t as sharp as you once thought. And remember, if you can’t do it, then you must do it. And if you must do it, then you can do it.

You need to walk before you can run. But you’ll never achieve either if you don’t learn to crawl first. It can be monotonous, but the best way to run with your career is to build a lifetime of experience behind you. You’re not grinding in futility. You’re building a foundation for the future.

Lastly, always remember that confidence is a two-edged sword. It’s great in the hands of an experienced writer, but literary suicide in the hands of an inexperienced one. Humility is the whetstone upon which we sharpen our skills to create a gleaming blade of the word.

Thank you for reading. 

Until next time, good writing and Calamus Gladio Fortior.