"Oh, I'm sure I could write a book, if I had the time."
Um, yeah. Sure. Whatever. Let me know how that works for you.
This statement always strikes me as so ridiculous, I'm not even sure how to respond. Okay, the wannabe thinks they can write a book. Good for them. All they have to do is sit down and write it, right? (For a visual, I highly recommend this wonderful cartoon that I am irrevocably in love with.*)
Their ignorance is like the broadside of a barn. There's no way you can miss it.
When I hear people say this (which I occasionally do), I just smile, nod, and humor them. All while simultaneously laughing and screaming in frustration on the inside.
Okay, you think writing is something just anyone can do. That's all well and good. You say you can write a book, but let me ask you this: do you have any idea how much sheer effort it takes to write a book? Do you have any comprehension of how much writers struggle to let out all the words? Do you know how much of the writer's soul is poured onto that page?
Do you have the slightest clue how long it takes to write a book? Do you know what passive voice is? Can you tell the difference between showing and telling? Do you know what a static character is, or a character arc? How about a plot arc? Do you know how the Three-Act story structure theory works? Do you know how to make your readers care, to make them laugh and cry and rave around madly because you haven't released your sequel?
Heaven forbid I ask this question, but do you even like to write?
Let me tell you something, wannabes: writers aren't like you. We're different. We don't think like you. Where you see a simple, everyday object, we see a million possibilities for storylines. We wake up in the middle of the night with urges to write, and we don't dare ignore them. Our world is rich and complex, more so than yours, in a way. We question everything, and not much makes sense, yet we can break everything down into twenty-six compounds (can you do that, chemists? Huh, what was that? Yeah, I thought so.).
For us, the entire world, the entire universe, is just one big mass of words. Every object can be described by words, can be broken down into words, and is essentially made up of words. And we love it. Maybe it's crazy; I don't know. But a writer loves words more intimately than any person they could ever meet.
And they love their stories and characters like that, too. We have dreams about them. We sit for hours and scribble about them in our notebooks. We see them in our minds, and think about them, think like them, think with them as if we were one being, which is not untrue. A writer writes not because they like to write, but because writing is something that is ingrained in every fiber of their being. Their very soul is a mass of words, just like the rest of the universe and beyond.
So unless you can say this of yourself, then have fun writing a book. You'll never make it. You have to not just love the writing in order to write something the size and scope of a novel--you have to be the writing. Be the novel, be the characters, be every little letter that comes out of your pen.
If your passion for writing falls anywhere short of this, then...you aren't a writer. Which means that you shouldn't go around saying how you could totally write a book, because, well, you couldn't. This is not my opinion: this is mere fact. I don't mean to belittle the non-writers, or even the wannabes. I'm just telling it like it is.
But if you can say this of yourself, then...congratulations. Know that you aren't alone.
*And because I linked to that one, I have to link to this one as well. My money's on Mr. Snicket, too, even though you can't deny the utter coolness of Pittacus Lore's name.