I have a confession to make, and it's a little embarrassing.
I haven't worked on my novel-in-progress at all this year.
It's not that I've not been writing. I've been doing blog posts (here and at my new site, The Stronger Pull). I sent a "postcard" for my birthday via my mailing list. (Not a subscriber? Sign up here!) I write in my journal almost every day. And, about two weeks ago, I started writing something, nonfiction, that got me excited. What's more, I've been writing it longhand. Sometimes it's important to listen when an idea screams for your attention, even if it's at the expense of temporarily ignoring others.
But that novel manuscript, the one I started over the summer? Nope, not this year. Not yet, anyway.
I can tell you a bunch of reasons--excuses, perhaps--that explain why. One is that after three-plus years, I'm still learning how to manage my time as a married person. Another is that I haven't practiced what I preach: make writing time non-negotiable.
Another still is preoccupation. Last fall, my husband and I made the difficult decision to sell our house in Maine and move back to Billings. We were disappointed that things didn't work out in Maine as we'd hoped, especially since we love our home and surroundings so much. We put our house on the market and, after the holidays and many showings, finally connected with a buyer. Now, with an official move date (end of March/beginning of April), packing the house and making preparations has become a priority. This is the second time in two years we've been through this.
But perhaps the most significant reason/excuse is psychological, and it's the most difficult one to overcome: fear.
It's become hard, this writing thing. Like picking up the guitar after you haven't played it in years, or getting back on the basketball court after you've been out with an injury all season. You're out of practice. Out of shape. You've lost your groove. You've lost your confidence. You start to have doubts: what if I don't or can't get my mojo back? What if I've already been forgotten? What if I had my one chance, and now it's over? What if I'm just plain not good at it anymore, and never will be again?
Any athlete or musician will tell you to just do it, like the slogan says. Get back on the court. Back on stage. Back into the arena. Back on the page. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again. As Jen Sincero, author of the Badass books says: "If you run from your fears, they will follow you. If you run straight at your fears, they will get the hell out of your way. Fears hate it when you do that."
It's time to make a beeline at them. Stop making excuses and start making a plan. Make time. Make progress.
After all, I've done this before. I know the way.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.