The Courage to Write

The last couple of months have not been very productive as far as writing goes.  I started NaNoWriMo, confident I would “win” and have a rough draft of the sequel to The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping by the end of the month.  But then my kids traded around a stomach bug, we got a new puppy, Thanksgiving, blah blah blah.  Of course then Christmas came along, which is basically a month-long excuse.  Now that we’re rolling on through January, I’ve been struggling to reestablish and keep up with a good writing routine.  I tell myself that I’ll have a writing session when the kids go to bed.  I’ll write when my husband goes out to the garage to work on the Jeep.  I’ll write in the morning, getting up early before anyone else does and making a pot of coffee.

But I don’t.

I can’t steal snippets of time here and there at random parts of the day and expect to get any decent work out of it.  I can make all sorts of excuses for myself.  I’m too tired.  I’m just not feeling it.  I shouldn’t force it.  It’s a slow process to get the creative juices flowing again.  My fingernails are too long.  While there’s some truth in all of that, it’s not the real reason.  The real reason is that I’m scared.

Any time I tell this to someone who has any occupation other than “writer,” they don’t seem to get it.  “Oh, you’re a good writer.  Just do it.”  And that advice isn’t much different from what you’ll find on many writers groups and forums.  You just have to get the rough draft done.  Nobody has to see the first draft, so there’s no need to stress.  We’ve all read that, but do we really listen?  Is it really true?  I mean, I see the first draft, and I’m the one that’s freaking out about it.  Don’t I count?  Do I need to be like Hemingway and just get drunk to make it happen?  (This really wouldn’t be a good option for me, considering I usually fall asleep after one beer.)

And what causes all this?  Do other people feel nervous about their jobs?  And maybe this only applies to people who are doing what they love for a living.  I say that because I didn’t feel nervous about previous jobs I had, at least not most of the time.  Perhaps, subconsciously, there just wasn’t that much to lose.  I could get another dead end job any day, right?   If Diana Gabaldon can crank out an entire series of books that each ring in at over 800 pages, why can’t I commit to working on my novel for an hour?

The real truth, I think, is that I just want so badly for it to be good.  And the excuses just make it that much easier to avoid the risk of failure.  But now that we are well over the holidays and the kids are most definitely back in school, I can force myself to truly get my nose back to the grindstone instead of these little pretend sessions where I really just have my fingers hovering over the keyboard while I watch TV.  Today marks the first week since November in which I have officially carved out an hour every day to write.  TGIF!

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4 Comments

Filed under On Writing, Uncategorized

4 responses to “The Courage to Write

  1. Sadly, the excuses for not doing it easily overwhelm the ones for pressing on. The one about whether it will be any good is the worst.
    Push on, and worry about it later, I say.

    Now if I could just get through the block I have on chapter two, maybe I could follow that advice.

  2. It’s hard, oh yes, it’s dang hard. I always know when my critique partner isn’t writing as my phone doesn’t ring. When she’s writing, she calls with exciting new developments emerging. I’m different. I keep my developments to myself and go back and work them in later. I don’t believe in forcing the words. I do believe in giving myself a break to read other authors and appreciate their work. I also love to work in the garden. Perhaps your mind needs a change of scenery. Trust me, I don’t have the answers.

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