With enough hard work, support, butt kicking, and time, almost anyone can write a novel. Here are 5 Questions to ask yourself before you take those ideas floating around in your head and try turning them into a story others will want to read.

Do I have a burning desire to write? Not just to see your name in print, but to write. Unless you hire a ghost writer (and that’s cheating), for an average mystery novel, you’re going to have to put about 70,000 words on paper that hang together, hold the reader’s attention, and tell a compelling story, while weaving several plot lines together. And that’s on the slim end. Some novels easily double that.

Do I understand the industry? Yes, writing is an industry-at least it is if you want to publish your novel and market it professionally. You may have natural writing talent, but there are many other requisite skills on the road to publishing your first novel, many of which are foreign to your nature, and you will have to learn along the way. Writers wear many hats, and change them frequently throughout any given day, week, or even hour. A good place to begin is by attending a writing conference, such as the La Jolla Writers Conference in Southern California. Find a workshop session that gives an overview of your various publishing options, talk to other authors about the pros and cons of self, hybrid, and traditional models.

How much time and money do I have to commit to writing, editing, publishing and marketing my work? I combined these 2 questions, because they go hand in hand. No one can write your novel for you, but there are other tasks that can be contracted out (and many should be). Start with how much time and money you currently have or can squeeze out of your calendar and checking account. Once you know those balances, sit down and decide what you can reasonably do, and what you will have to purchase. This goes for requisite software, also. Maybe you’re willing to learn InDesign so you can layout your own manuscript, but do you have the money to purchase that program up front? You’re going to have to make an investment of one or both. Do you want to learn InDesign, WordPress, and PhotoShop? Do you want to figure out how to communicate with Amazon or hold audio auditions or do podcasts? If not, you’ll be paying for these services.

Last, but not least, do you believe in yourself? If you have a burning desire to write and you have something to say, you can develop the talent to express it. Yes, of course there are people naturally blessed with a chunk of writing talent, who make it all look easy, but contrary to popular belief, talent can be developed. It takes work, but don’t be intimidated just because your first sentence doesn’t sound like Hemingway. Take a creative writing class. Jack London did. Learn to show not tell. Learn to assiduously avoid passive voice. Improve your vocabulary. Read the best literature you can find.

Once you’ve faced the realities of writing, get to it! Find your own voice and tell your story. We can’t wait to read it!