Dig deep inside, battle self-doubt and become the person you know you can be. Richard Skinner on the healing powers of writing a novel

Writing a novel is a scary prospect. They’re so long and winding, they can seem never-ending. The main obstacle might seem to be starting – the terror of the blank page – but the real stumbling block lies elsewhere. There is no reason in the world why you can’t write a novel and the only thing stopping you from doing so is yourself. It seems such an insurmountable task and, in any case, you might ask yourself, why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? Who am I to have a voice? It is this lack of self-belief that is the main hindrance. It is the first thing any aspiring author has to get to grips with every time they sit down to write.

Writing is about claiming ownership of yourself in order to become the person you know you can be. It’s about acknowledging to yourself that writing is not just a hobby, but a profound force in your life, one that will help you to achieve a deep sense of self-expression. A novel is making your mark on the world. It is your cri de coeur. But bridging that gap will be a struggle. You will have to push yourself far outside your comfort zone. And you will have to be completely honest with yourself about why and what you want to write. The first question to ask yourself is: “What do I want to say?”

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