Creating a novel is a solitary process.. at first.
There is no way around it, writing can only be done without distraction. When I was young, it was as easy as going to my room or finding a tree to curl up under. With the invention of the Internet, finding a place without distraction is much harder. The laptop that avails a word processing program also holds a window into never-ending entertainment, like Vegas on a bender. Worse, if you’re fact-checking (and in this day and age, if you want to keep your audience, you’re fact-checking) you must have that window to the Internet.
(And of course there is the occasional blog post..)
Once writing gets to a certain point, however, leaving it all to oneself is a bad plan. We are blind to our own writing styles, our inconsistencies, our plot holes that one could drive an ice cream truck through. We are in an echo chamber, and the only thing that can help is the feedback of an audience.
Finding that audience is probably the cause of death of more could-be novels than any other single thing. Certainly, there are editors that you can pay, and that is a service a professional author should indulge in, but before you’re ready to commit your hard earned dollars to your work, sometimes a little less formal showing is in order. This is where the difficulty comes in – I have been blessed with a lot of friends who say they are willing to read my work. On the other hand, when it comes to the rubber hits the road, those same friends who said they were interested dissolve under the weight of their previous engagements.
A good middle ground is the writer’s group. This is a trade service, with each aspiring author getting their moment in the sun, while also getting an opportunity to brush up on their editing skills by working with unfamiliar work.
The important thing is to make sure that you get feedback, and more importantly, take feedback. Confidence in your art is a must to get it produced, but without feedback, a work could miss its true potential.