Last week I launched myself happily into fiction, except it was more like a pathetic little hop than a rocket into space. Full of excitement and ambition and hope at the beginning, I accomplished nothing for 5 days. What happened?
To begin, fear happened. What if I just couldn’t write fiction anymore? Have I been away from it too long? I wrote most of one book during the summer when I wasn’t working. And it was glorious. Suddenly now I have no energy. Where did it go? And it was my excuse for doing nothing. Was fear sucking the energy out of me? Years ago, I wrote 3 novels at 5 am in the morning before I headed into a full teaching day. Why can’t I do that now?
Then doubt happened. What if I went back to those stories that have been patiently waiting for so long and they were really bad? It was too scary to open the file, so I didn’t for several days.
Then finally–5 days later–determination happened and I asked myself the tough question. Was I a writer or wasn’t I?
So I finally dove in. Not in any major way but in an Anne Lamott, 1-inch picture frame kind of way. I gave myself permission to not think about how to finish the book. Instead, I gave myself permission to write 500 words, enough to get my character—and me—moving. And the next day I wrote another 500 words and today I will write another.
Small, manageable chunks are what I can manage. I can’t think about finishing the book, but I can think about 500 words; whether they’re the next ones or ones I will use later on, at least I will have written something. And right now that’s what I need to do.