3 Reasons Novel Writing is Like Building a Start Up


I met someone recently who runs his own start up. It’s a super niche technical business, so when he started talking about it (albeit passionately), I expected everything to go completely over my head.

A lot of it did.

But as my friend began to talk less about gadgets and more about the daunting experience of starting a business, I found myself suddenly able to relate. That’s when I realized it- writing a novel is basically like building a start up.

start up

Here’s why:

1. Whether Building a Start Up or Writing a Novel, No One Really Gets What You’re Doing

My friend is creating some GPS gadget (sorry friend), and the innovation lies in something very technical. He said he tries to explain his vision to friends and family, and while they are supportive, they really have no idea what he’s trying to do. There are apparently only 3 people in the world who get it.

This experience is exactly like writing a novel. Sure, people understand the concept of novel writing and maybe even your basic premise, but you (and maybe your editor) are the only ones who get what you’re trying to do. You know the message you’re trying to convey. The nuances. The weeds.

2. Building a Start Up and Writing a Novel Both Require An Appreciation for Innovation and Creativity

My start up friend talked about the creators of Uber the way I talk about J.K. Rowling. He went on and on about the innovation of the company and other pioneers because he was struck by their creativity. He was moved by both the simple and complex, so long as it was creative.

As novelist, I could relate to that. Seeing such innovation in others makes you want to find that creativity/innovation in yourself. It’s inspiring.

3. Writing a Novel, Like Building a Start-Up, Requires a Significant Investment

My friend was the first person to invest in his start up. He quit his job and dedicated 100% of his time to the company. Then, he convinced others to invest (and believe) in his ideas, skills, and strategy as well.

Writing a novel also requires a significant investment. The first investment is from yourself- it’s definitely a time commitment and probably a financial commitment as well (i.e., for classes, conferences, editors, etc.).

By asking people to buy and read your book, you’re requesting that they invest their time and money into your ideas and skills—and your characters.So novelists, next time you meet an entrepreneur, make sure you tell them, “I get it.”

What about you? Do you think writing a book is like building a start up? Let me know what you think in thecomments. 


Take fifteen minutes to write about an innovator or writer who inspires you. How can you relate to them? What can you learn from them to help you become a better writer? Don’t forget to share in the comment section! 

About Monica M. Clark

Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter(@monicamclark).

This post was previously published on The Write Practice

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