I made a mistake. I was happily working away on the revisions to my most recent novel, some of which were quite meaty, and I didn’t notice when they began to dwindle down to rephrasings here and there, changes in single words, typo corrections. Because, you see, though I was still working on a novel, at some point what I was doing was no longer WRITING. And yet, I remained heedless. I gave myself over to these minor niggling details during lunch or after the kids were asleep as though they were bold and creative. Aside from a few blog posts (thank goodness I at least did those), I was no longer writing.
On a certain Wednesday in April, I decided to call my novel “done” for the time being, and I printed it off to send to the Romantic Novelists’ Association for my critique. And suddenly hard stop. No novel. Nothing to revise. Nothing in progress. Nothing. Though in the back of my mind I had an idea for a new book, I hadn’t written anything down. So when I tried to turn my idea into something large enough to justify 90,000 words, attempting to build an outline for the first time, I couldn’t think of anything. All my ideas seemed ridiculous. I began to panic. What if I could NEVER THINK OF ANOTHER BOOK TO WRITE?
This, folks, is what can happen to your fragile confidence if you stop writing, even for a few weeks. Remember how, at the end of last year, I was flying high? I had completed THREE novels in a single year! I had words banked like you wouldn’t believe. I even said that I knew there would always be another book (see Progress, and chuckle a little bit at my expense). But then, without consciously realizing it, I stopped writing, for too long. And when I didn’t have new ideas flowing for a few days (and they probably weren’t flowing for exactly the same reason), my confidence came crashing down. My dream of being a writer was ending in the year 2012. It was gone.
Thankfully, I’ve been doing this long enough to realize that my writing mind plays tricks on me, so, instead of giving up just yet, I tried to ignore my fear and instead talked to my husband about my idea. And I wrote down some notes – anything, really, to get going again, pen on paper rather than computer. And then I opened up a new document and typed the first page of my new book. It didn’t feel right, so I brainstormed a second idea, but the other idea kept horning in. So I looked at my first idea again (agony by this time, people), and I decided to try starting over, in a different way.
This time it worked. I’m now on my way – 5,000 words. It’s not much, but it’s the beginning of my next novel, the novel that I was convinced I would never write a couple of weeks ago.
Don’t stop writing.