Recently I heard the shocking statistic
Imagine that! It made me wonder about who manages to get that novel out and who does not. Clearly lots of people do not. I’m going to share this quiz to help you see if you represent the small percentage of those 200 million who actually will write a book.
Answer yes or no to each of the questions below:
1) Do you read constantly–have to have a book at the ready and sometimes read two books at once?
2) Are you a disciplined person who is self-motivated and can work like a dog without financial or other types of rewards?
3) Do you enjoy free time on your weekends to just relax, watch television, play with friends?
4) When you people-watch, do you make up stories about the people you see, almost like a bio–who they are, where they work, what secrets they have?
5) Do you enjoy sitting at your computer until your back aches and your fingers freeze up with overwork?
6) Are you someone who prefers not being with other people–who prefers lots and lots of solitary time?
7) Do you spend lots of time in libraries and/or book stores and by lots of time I mean that extra time when you’re not sitting at your computer?
8) Do you prefer to go to the coffee shop to meet friends, chat and drink coffee rather than work?
9) Do you eavesdrop on conversations and take notes on what you hear?
10) Do you care if the correct word is lie, lay or lain?
Here is an answer grid for you to see if you are indeed one of those few who might indeed scribble out a book:
For each above give yourself 1 point if you answered:
Yes to questions: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10
No to questions: 3 and 8
If you had 7-10 points, you have what it takes to write a book and you have possibly already done so.
If you had 3-6 points, you should find something else to interest you other than writing books, maybe snowboarding?
If you had 0-2, come on, now, you didn’t really want to write a book, now did you?
Let’s look at each question:
The best learning source for all writers is books.
If your mind wanders and leads you to other things, like what’s in the fridge or who you can email or call, you will never get that book written. It takes a tremendous amount of self motivation with very few rewards. We writers are totally self-actualized (re: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
We have day jobs that enable us to eat and pay our rent. We write in between. Even if we do go out with friends, our guilt at not writing pulls us back. That doesn’t mean we don’t take breaks. Breaks and large chucks of play-time are two different things.
4) This is more for fiction writers. If you write nonfiction, you can answer no to this one. Us, fiction writers enjoy making up things about the people we see. We enjoy letting our imaginations run wild. There’s a tremendous amount of material in people-watching.
5) In the past writers wrote on pads with pens and pencils. Today, we use computers. Like it or not, that’s where we spend a lot of time. If you are unwilling to glue yourself to the chair and simply write, well… you’ll be among the 200 million who are still talking about writing a book, but not actually doing it.
6) Okay, I’m a people person at heart. But, I also like my solitary time. I read and write in solitary. As an extraverted writer, I have to balance the two. If you’re an introverted writer, it’s a bit easier.
7) If you do not spend a lot of time in the homes of books, how can you say you want to write a book?
It’s what excites our inner passions.
8) In today’s world coffee shops are writer havens. It’s where we can write, sip coffee and not be so isolated. If you go there to visit with friends, you’re missing a wonderful writing opportunity. Unless, of course, you people watch and eavesdrop while there 🙂
9) This again is for fiction writers. If you write nonfiction, you can get away with saying no. As fiction writers, we write dialogue. Our best research occurs by eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. There we learn the nuances of the language. Mindless listening is not the the work of a true writer.
10) Yes, it matters and it matters a lot to writers.
These are my thoughts on what it takes to write that book that’s inside you. What are your thoughts? What questions would you add to the quiz? How did you do?
Pearl R. Meaker says
I’m saying that after a hearty laugh. I scored a 5. I guess I shouldn’t have all those online archived fanfiction stories I wrote (nearly 200 with four novel/novella length) nor my two short stories that were published nor my mystery book that’s coming out May 1, 2015.
A couple of the questions actually are two questions. On #2 I am NOT self-disciplined and it does cause some problems with my deadlines – but not too many problems. But YES I am motivated by things other than financial rewards.
#9 was the other two parter that I had to split. I DO listen to conversations. I DON’T take notes.
So, those questions I gave myself half a point each. Combining those into one whole point gave me my 5 points.
I have a question. If a person doesn’t like to have free time on weekends (#3) and doesn’t go for coffee sometimes instead of working (#8) – when are they ever supposed to people watch? 😉
I would say that different people have different mixes of these items that they make work for them.
Joan Curtis says
Hi Pearl, I’m glad you got a kick out of this. I wanted people to see how hard it is to actually write a book. How much we have to give up. My guess is you have a lot more discipline than you think (otherwise you’d never finish the book!). As for the coffee with friends question, I tossed that in thinking most writers could go both ways. BTW, I people watch while I work 🙂 You are absolutely right: People do have different mixes of these items. Did you watch the little video? I thought it was quite funny.
Hope you’ll have a wonderful New Year. Maybe someday we’ll meet. I plan to put at least one conference on my list of things to do this year. Who knows where that will take me–perhaps near some of my distant writer-colleagues.
Kathy McIntosh says
I loved the little video! What a hoot.
As to your test, it was wonderful and arbitrary and you made it up so it can be whatever you like.
Like Pearl, I eavesdrop but don’t take notes, and I do like to do a few other things, so I’m not as prolific a writer as I’d like. I’m also not as self-disciplined as I’d like. Perhaps the burning desire to write overtakes even the least disciplined of us! I do have one novel published, and I’m editing the second, and have four others hidden away in the depths of my laptop, awaiting revision or revulsion (I’m afraid to look!).
But that love of the word and the love of reading are, I think, essential.