Writers around the world are sitting at their desks writing. Because it’s what they do.

Some writers write articles, some write poetry, some write songs and some write novels. Some do all of these; some do others; some do just one. A specific type of writing which usually captures people’s attention is novel-writing. As soon as someone finds out you’re writing a novel, they ask first if they can be in it, then what it’s about if you’re going to publish it and usually, if you’re studying or working, “how do you find the time?”

So, I thought that for those interested in writing books themselves and those who are interested in people who write books (on the odd occasion you find any of us interesting), here are a few pointers on what it’s like to be writing one.

1. The process is very, very secretive

Most novel-writers guard their book plots with their life. Part of it is because we don’t want anyone to thieve our ideas, yes, but I would say that another part of the secretiveness comes from a little bit of embarrassment. We’re not ashamed of our stories, we just overthink everything. So, if we tell you a plotline, we’re worried you’ll read into it as much of ourselves as we’ve put into it. And, honestly, we don’t like that. At least, we don’t like that if it’s directly in front of us.

2. The process is very, very emotionally exhausting

Writers deal with a whole range of plots when writing books. Some are murder plots, marriage plots, loss plots, heartache plots, extremely happy plots. In order to get some good writing, a writer has to be in the mood of their characters to write their feelings down. Sometimes it’s a case of thinking about it, while other times you’ve got to recall things in your own life that evoke the same emotions. Even if it’s a happy plot, it’ll drain a writer because writing emotion is as if you’re spilling part of yourself out onto a page.

3. The process happens at all hours of the day and night

You asked where we find the time? Usually, it’s the time when everyone else is asleep or relaxing. Writers write at 3 am, 12 pm and 6 am. It’s all over the place and it’s messy, too. When people are at parties, writers either go to observe or stay at home to write what they have observed. Either way, a writer is always thinking and developing and noting things down. It doesn’t matter what the time is, if a book needs to be written, it will do everything in its power to make sure the writer delivers on the story.

4. The process may end in absolutely nothing, but that’s fine

If writers are writing for critical acclaim, fame or hyper-achievement, they’re not doing it for the right reasons. Writers write with the end goal of finishing the book. Yes, some think about publishing, of course, and we do daydream about the day a film is made of our book, but that’s not the reason why. Also, it would be crushing to be rejected by a publisher, yes, but if nothing came of the book, that’s okay. We write because we need to. Stories come to us and they need writing, so we do it.

5. The process is the best medicine in the world

For a lot of novel-writers, writing can be stressful. However, if you change your mindset, writing can be the greatest stress-reliever you’ve ever had. Putting yourself in a world you have created and immersing yourself in the feelings of other ‘people’ is therapeutic and calming. So, when we’re done with the world, sometimes it’s the novel which makes it all okay again.