Today I am delaying, procrastinating, avoiding writing. I have completed the major first edit of my novel, On a Wing and a Dare, and realized that it needs one more chapter. Although I am excited and proud of the twenty-one chapters that are there, this last chapter scares me. So I took the dog for a walk. I went to the gym. Now I’m blogging–but at least it’s writing.
I find myself wondering about why people avoid writing. I know that students are sometimes given prompts to write about that fail to inspire them. I also know that writers of all ages face writer’s block when ideas don’t come to them. These writers stare at a blank paper (or blank computer screen) and struggle for words. That is not my problem. I know exactly what needs to go in that last chapter, and I have a couple of ideas for scenes.
I have seen students with great ideas fumble with writing them down. Some are afraid their grammar skills won’t be up to the task. They’ve tried before and had bad grades, so they are reluctant to try again. Some worry that they won’t use the right format. If the teacher has taught a certain structure, and students are expected to use it, sometimes it’s hard to fit what you want to say into that structure. But great ideas inside your head aren’t good novels/stories until they are written down. I have confidence in my ability to write an awesome last chapter. Just not today.
Students sometimes write furiously on a project then hand it in without thinking about it. This is not always their best work, but it gets done. I forced myself to belt out two tough chapters of On a Wing and a Dare, and they turned out pretty well. If you wait for inspiration to strike, very little actually gets written.
Maybe the title of this piece should be “Fear of Finishing.” When I finish this novel, I will be without a project. Do I start a new novel? Go back to my first novel and edit that? Starting over is a lot of work. And what do I do with On a Wing and a Dare? There’s a lot of work ahead in sending query letters to agents and publishers and dealing with rejections until it finds that right person on the right day at the right time.
As long as I have this last chapter to write, I don’t have to deal with the hard work of selling it. It can remain my precious baby and not be tossed to the lions, tigers, and bears of the publishing world. Is that cowardly of me? Maybe.
What do you think? Give me some inspiration, encouragement, motivation to finish!
On my Kindle: People of Sparks by Jeanne Duprau