I love letters, I love words, I love sentences and fragments of sentences. For me, writing is a mysterious dance between these fragments and my feelings – each continually tugging at the other for the truth.
Writing can be troubling and tenuous. It slips so easily from my grasp one minute, then wraps around me like a needy lover the next. It is inside me and yet exists beyond me. I try to wade deep into its flow, but often feel I’m only skimming the surface of something I don’t truly understand.
I do love it. That is why I am writing a novel … or was.
Here’s the thing; with a new puppy in my life, a household to maintain, and a documentary film to complete, I decided something had to be put on hold. I had excuses to do with money, time, and change — and so after nine weeks of daily practice this fall, I stopped writing my novel. It’s been six weeks since I stopped.
I cannot get back those six weeks. If I had found the time to write just a single page a day, I would be more than forty pages ahead of where I am right now. But the wonderful thing is — another six weeks lie ahead of me. And another and another.
All great achievements require time. ~ Maya Angelou, American Writer
A novel is a great achievement. If you are working on one, I urge you to let go the excuses around time, life circumstances, money and fear. I urge you to devote yourself wholeheartedly to dancing with words and wading in deep. Love your practice even if it is just a page a day.
To help cultivate a wholehearted novel writing practice, ask yourself these questions.
What’s the point?
Figure out your reasons for wanting to write a novel in the first place. Do they make sense? Do they come from the heart? Do you love letters, words and sentences enough to spend time stringing them together and tearing them apart? Also think about whether or not this is the novel you truly want to be writing. If it’s not, scrap it and start again with one you can love.
How much time is enough?
Go easy on yourself. Stop trying to live up to word counts and page counts dictated by Stephen King or Julia Cameron and just write every day. If it means you only write for five minutes then that’s enough. It’s more than not writing. If you can’t write every day then try to write as often as you can. Make your own rules from a loving place.
What’s my problem?
Dig in and ask yourself what truly lies behind all your excuses. Deal with your fears, your foils, your stumbling blocks. But also look at when you are at your best, when you do well and parlay that knowledge into a best practice for you.
Wholehearted writing is about choosing a direction, taking your time, knowing yourself and, ultimately, loving yourself enough to begin. I will begin again today. Join me and let’s write our novels together — one lovely letter, one lovely page at a time.