I will be one of millions today, making New Year’s Resolutions that will, if extremely fortunate, last until the beginning of February. Inevitably, they then sputter and fade into oblivion, only to be recalled once or twice more that year, accompanied by a large dollop of guilt for having failed yet again.
Last year my writing resolutions included the aim to blog once a fortnight; that lasted until the end of February so really did quite well. I also pledged to Finish The Bloody Book. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen either. This year I’m going for a slightly more realistic aim of blogging at least once a month but am keeping the pledge to Finish The Bloody Book.
But why haven’t I finished The Book already? It’s been years in the making, bursts of super creativity and action followed by deep and abiding droughts. I think about The Book all the time; I’m constantly writing in my head and occasionally these thoughts actually make it to the pages of my trusty notebook. But there they can sit, gathering dust on my desk until a Proper Creative Moment strikes and I actually open the word document on the laptop.
I see memes all the time that suggest you’re not a proper writer unless you write something – anything! – every day. That the sheer need to write overcomes you until you cannot do anything else. I don’t get this. I think writing every day is good discipline and I definitely lack it. But I don’t feel the need to write every day; daydreaming usually suffices. I do need to do something creative every day but this need can be fulfilled by writing my journal, a blog post or even just knitting or doing some adult colouring-in (a marvellous de-stresser and daydream inducer). But I want to be a published author more than anything in the world; so why am I holding myself back?
After much introspection, I’ve identified several reasons for why The Book is still in production:
- Firstly, I am a true master of procrastination. I should actually have a degree in it I’m that good at putting off sitting down to write because my dog looks sad that I’ve been at work all day and wants to sit on my lap for a cuddle and there’s not room for him and the laptop together. It’s easy to decide the house is too noisy for a Proper Creative Moment, or dinner’s in half an hour so there’s no point in trying to get into the zone until later. It’s these short periods of time in-between other life things that I definitely need to push myself to utilise as Proper Creative Moments are extremely scarce.
- Secondly, I worked fulltime in a completely un-publishing related industry until recently. I’m now working four days a week in a completely un-publishing related industry. Needs must to pay the bills etc. Even though a lot of work can often be accomplished with minimal brain cell engagement, I still come home utterly zapped at the end of the day, incapable of doing much more than collapsing into a chair to watch Walking Dead. Or Friends. Or Greys Anatomy [just insert American TV show boxset here really]. How people with children and/or elderly parents to care for and a fulltime job get any writing done at all completely bewilders me. These people should just be bowed down to and worshipped like heroes.
- Thirdly, rubbish health is sadly a factor. I’ve read endless blogs from superhero writers who get up to write at 4am whilst the rest of the house sleeps so they’ve got some quality writing time. Absolutely no way in a million years would I ever be able to do this. Sleep is Mecca for me; I simply don’t function without 8-10 hours a night minimum. Morning is my least favourite time of day and, if left to choose, I would simply miss it altogether and go straight for lunch. Therefore, any writing only happens after work when I’m already tired or at weekends when I’m recuperating from being at work.
But all this is still only part of the story.
The truth is I’m terrified of rejection and failure. Something I’ve spent so long creating is very much my Book Baby and I would be devastated if I failed to publish it (either indie or traditionally). I would likely be distraught by bad reviews too. And, judging by the many, many memes on the internet, I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’m very fortunate to have had some feedback from those within the industry who say that I can write and should continue to pursue my dreams. But, of course, the fact that you can write is only half the battle; I’ve missed the latest historical fiction/romance publishing craze and now it’s all about crime and thrillers, meaning publishing slots for my genre are harder to come by.
Maybe I should take a break, write something else which is definitely whirring the cogs in my brain. I have plenty of other books in my head; they could be spun out without too much difficulty. I’ve learnt an incredible amount from my incomplete writing journey so far; another book might come together much more easily.
But I’m still enraptured by my Book Baby. It holds me in its thrall and I know I have to finish it, even if it then sits on my hard-drive gathering computer dust until the right moment comes along. So the New Year’s resolution shall remain; I AM going to Finish The Bloody Book.
The Plan – stolen from the lovely @liztipping ‘s Twitter post 25/12/16
Cat, Thinking – The Unovelist’s Twitter posts
Should be writing, Procrastinating & Terrified – Someecards
Writers Sobbing – http://kierstenwhite.tumblr.com/post/128453588877/fedoramoron-what-are-we-writers-what