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Getting Past the Novel-Writing Blahs

I don’t feel like doing this video today.

Not one bit. Not even close.

I don’t feel like it because I have no idea what to say. And because I’m still in the learning process of making these videos, so I could very well make an absolute idiot out of myself. And because, honestly, 2018 hasn’t felt so awesome so far.

It’s been filled with family emergencies and flat tires, computer viruses and unfulfilled schedules, glaring mistakes and general exhaustion.

So no. I don’t feel like making this video today. I’d much rather give up on January altogether and start over in February, using these last few days of the month to catch up on This Is Us.

Even though it’s totally going to make me cry.

Maybe you can relate, only with your book-in-the-making. Let’s face it: all those frustrations and fears I just mentioned sound all-too natural when applied to writing a novel or non-fiction work:

  • I’m stuck at the beginning or the middle or the end. How do I start it or continue it or finish it when I have no idea what to say?

  • What if I make an absolute idiot out of myself during the writing process, editing process or publishing process?

  • Life is just really difficult or busy right now. I’ll work on my manuscript tomorrow.

Since I know how legitimate those excuses can feel, let’s address them each in turn.

  • I’m stuck.

Well, fortunately, next week’s video is all about overcoming writer’s block. But for now, how about you just try to power through it. Just start writing. Who cares what kind of writing it is – whether good or bad, original or cliché. Just write. For five or 10 or 15 minutes.

No matter how lame you feel in the process, it’s a powerful way of proving to yourself that you still have an imagination and an intellect. You’re not broken and you’re not hopeless. You’re just in a funk you need to climb out of. Once you’re done proving that, feel free to scrap everything you just wrote if it’s bad or cliché. Chances are though, you’ll have come up with something that works – even if just a sentence – that you can springboard off of into the writing groove.

  • I feel stupid.

Welcome to being human. We all feel stupid sometimes. Some nights, I’ll lie awake in bed remembering key stupid things I’ve done over my three and a half decades of existence, wondering how in the world I could have been quite that stupid. My recommendation here is quite simple. Get over it. If you’re going to let the fear of feeling stupid stop you from writing your heart out, then you don’t deserve the thrill of holding your published book in your hands.

  • Life is way too busy. And hard!

This is a much more legitimate issue than worrying about looking stupid. Like I said, I get it. This month has been rough for me too. And maybe your month has been even rougher. I sincerely hope not, but life can be downright heartbreaking sometimes. If that’s the case, do what you need to do. Let yourself grieve. Or decompress. Or whatever helps you heal. Just don’t let it consume you. Most of us know when we’ve used up our legitimate downtime. We all need to be able to relax to a certain extent. But we also need to be able to push ourselves to do great things. If one of those great things is writing a novel or non-fiction book, then wait until you’re done watching that episode of This Is Us or whatever floats your boat. Then write for half an hour. You don’t need to make your life exponentially busier or more difficult than it already is. Just set aside fifteen minutes every day or half an hour three times a week or an hour twice a week where you don’t let your “busy” or “tough” get in the way of doing what you were meant to do.

Besides, writing can be a great way to heal in and of itself, no matter whether you’re getting past something little or something utterly traumatic.

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