Every day, so many of us start our novels… or, in my case, restart them. A tiny, tiny percentage of aspiring authors will actually publish. Why is that?
Is it because we don’t know how to make for words go on paper good? Of course not.
Maybe it’s because we can’t plan our way out of a paper bag? Ehhhhh, I don’t think that’s really it, either. Maybe we can’t pull a George RR Martin with his billion interwoven plot lines, but we could still crank out a fun little three-act story if we really wanted to.
Fear is the mind killer.
I believe that, in the vast majority of cases, we stress ourselves out. We try too hard to Do It Right and Be like Hero so we can Get Famous Fast so we can Quit Day Job and Impress Some People.
…or some fantasy like that.
We lose our way when these unrealistic goals feel like they are getting farther and farther away. We shelf the book – you know, just for now. Until we have the time we need to Do It Right.
But, is it really time we’re lacking? It’s hard to justify that when our next “task” is to binge watch all of Tiger King on Netflix. (Guilty, by the way.) We dive into indulgent hobbies to feel better. Or, read differently: we will usually find the time to do those things that we actually want to do.
“But I do want to be a writer!” Yeah, I believe you. So do I. But, do you want to write? When I pose that question to myself, the answer is usually “yeah, but maybe later. I’m kind of busy right now. I can’t focus. I can’t … “
But see, that’s not true either. I should have been more honest with myself and said: I’m afraid to fail… again.
Rinse and forkin’ repeat. This has been my story for years. We have all invented our own versions of it, but the end result is the same:
I can’t do it.
The third act resurrection.
Yeah, we can do it. Look at your favorite book. It’s there because finishing a book is possible for mere humans to accomplish. For fun, look at your least favorite book. It’s also there because it is possible.
You can. But … how?
To begin with, I think we have to stop torturing ourselves. Writing is not our day job. Probably, it is not our job at all. Maybe we want it to be that way, but right now it is not. We need to stop treating it like it is. Fake it until you make it sounds cute on paper, but in reality it still boils down to lie.
Say I wanted to be a professional weightlifter. With the body I have, if I woke up tomorrow and ate the calories they do, did all the exercises at their speed and counts, and tried to act like a pro with no training, I would die. Physically dead, good bye, all done.
I am not going to wake up tomorrow and write a solid 1k words before work, use my lunch to read author blogs, toss out a few blog posts, and then crank out more words before bed. I wouldn’t die, but my desire to keep writing would. I haven’t built up that kind of stamina yet.
But … I can still be a weightlifter, or a writer. Doing it like they do isn’t what makes us that thing. Actually doing the thing is, and we will get stronger as we go.
Anyway, it’s a thought.