Nicholas Sparks (born in 1965) is the bestselling author of The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and countless other beloved novels.
Here are four of his quotes to inspire your writing!
1. I read over a hundred books a year and have done so since I was fifteen years old, and every book I’ve read has taught me something.
Are you starting to see a trend by now? Are you seeing that one bestselling author after another talks about how important reading is to their writing success? Reading should be something we all want to do anyway, but it’s especially important in your writing life. You truly can learn something new with every book you read, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, whether it’s in the genre you normally write in or a genre you’re mostly unfamiliar with.
I can’t say I necessarily read more than 100 books a year — I’d say I probably average about forty to fifty books a year— but trying to read 100 books in a single year is definitely a goal we should all aim for. My problem is that I’m a slow reader and if I tried to read two books a week, I would probably have to skim a lot of the time, especially in longer novels, and when I’m skimming I rarely retain much, which defies the purpose and importance of reading in the first place. But do your best to always have a book nearby, and dip into it as often as you can!
2. I write 2,000 words a day when I write. It sometimes takes three hours, it sometimes takes five hours.
In all the research I’ve done studying various writing processes of novel writers, it appears like 2,000 words a day is the average daily word count goal. Cassandra Clare writes 3,000 words or more every day she’s drafting, and John Grisham aims for 1,000 words a day as of late. But Stephen King and Nicholas Spark both try for 2,000 words, which I personally find to be the sweet spot. 2,000 words is a lot and it allows you to get the first draft of your latest novel completed within a few short weeks, and it’s also not so much that you’re stuck at the writing desk from 9am to 9pm every day.
2,000 words a day takes Sparks anywhere between three hours and five hours a day, and that sounds about right. I’ve been able to reach 2,000 words in two to three hours on a good day, but sometimes it takes longer than that. It’s so important to stop your writing every day right before a scene or a moment you know is coming so that the next day you’re able to start writing right away and not waste time trying to think of what to write next.
As I’ve said before, decide on a word count that works best for you and stick to it every day until you reach THE END. If you prefer 1,000 words or fewer, then that’s fine. And if you like to write even more than 2,000 words a day, like I sometimes do, especially late in the drafting process, that also works! The goal is to reach the end of the first draft. Do what you need to do to ensure that happens.
3. None of my characters are rich or famous, and the situations they find themselves in could happen to anyone.
Nicholas Sparks is one of the most popular authors around, one of those lucky chaps who has millions of loyal readers who will pick up pretty much anything he puts out that has his name in big, bold letters on the cover. I’ve read three of his books, and I even adapted his novel A Bend in the Road into a screenplay way back in 2007 (more as an exercise than anything else). He has a gift for coming up with compelling plots and tender romances and shocking twists, but one of the things he does best, of course, is develop likable characters that are the kind of everyday people you know and meet in your own life.
He doesn’t write about billionaires or celebrities; he writes about your neighbors and co-workers, and that element I feel has played a big role in his success throughout the years. He writes a similar kind of book each time out, which also helps a lot (just look at the posters for all the film adaptations of his novels and you’ll discover a running theme), but it’s his believable and identifiable characters that resonate greatly with readers. It’s something to think about in your own writing, the kind of people you create on the page.
4. Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.
Agreed! There’s nothing like it. There’s no greater glory in life, I believe, than writing THE END on your very first novel. I reached that milestone at the end of May 2010, and it was a revelatory day for me. After years of thinking I might write a novel, I finally did it, and I actually completed it. That first draft of my first novel was a whopping 463 pages and an absolute mess, but I reached the last page, and that alone was a huge milestone.
But don’t ever think the joy goes away in any subsequent novel you write. I’ve written twenty novels in ten years, and every time I reach that last page I want to cry. Every time I write that last sentence I want to turn up the music and dance for hours. Writing a novel is like climbing the world’s tallest mountain, and when you reach the end of it, you truly feel like you’ve reached the highest peak. You feel invincible. You feel really, really good about yourself. And you feel like you can accomplish anything.
Better yet? You’ll find your confidence to write another book after that, and another one, and another one! Writing a book is difficult, and you’ll have tough days, but if you stick with it long enough, you will reach the end at some point. And you’ll get to feel that beautiful, joyous, cathartic moment, too. Hopefully more than once!
PS I’m excited to announce my third craft book about writing, a year in the making!
From Douglas Adams to Markus Zusak: Quotes by 100 Amazing Authors to Inspire Your Writing, coming to Amazon on Tuesday, June 30.
Pre-order your copy now!