Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What's Holding You Back?

You have this great idea for a novel. A GREAT idea.

And you're totally excited to get to it. But first you have to unload the dishwasher and do a load or eight of laundry. Your kids need to eat and be chauffeured around. The baby? He's refusing to nap.

Finally, when it's dark and quiet, when the children are dreaming in their beds and your husband is watching the game on TV, you have a chance to sit down at your computer.


Nothing. Nada.

Your idea that was so fabulous in the morning? Maybe you aren't so in love with it now. Or maybe you start typing and, after a few hundred words, you realize it's not going anywhere.

Also? Top Chef is on. Or the Bachelorette. And there might be a container of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch calling you from the freezer.

So there goes another day.

Rinse. Repeat.

What is holding us back?

It's time. It's energy. Things that are in short supply when you're a mom. If you work. If you do both.

But it's more. It takes drive, dedication and discipline (which I have just now decided to call the Three Ds, in case I decide to mention them again). It's sitting down and writing. Every day. No matter what. And that's not easy to do, for the above reasons. And many, many others.

It's fear. Maybe we're afraid we'll fail so we don't start. Maybe we're afraid we're not that good of a writer, or that no one would possibly want to read what we have to say.

We fear we're not original.

Or we're afraid of exposing ourselves, of putting it all out there - our thoughts and hopes and the places our imagination takes us - for others to see.

We fear it's too hard. It's too silly. It's a waste of time to pursue something that might never see the light of day. We'll do it when our kids are older, when we have more time, when we get that new computer, when this season of American Idol is over.

We're insecure.

We don't know how to begin.

Still, it's our dream. It's our dream, and the thing is? It's going to stay that way - a dream - unless we do something about it someday.

And someday? It's today.

It's today.

What is holding YOU back? Have you done anything toward your dream of becoming a published writer? Why or why not?


  1. agents. agents are definitely holding me back - more specifically their tendency to avoid me like the plague.

    but seriously, i think it's the fact that i'm still polishing my novel writing skills. i'm all about the poem and short story but with a novel i have to be careful to actually remember to keep a story line. people usually like those.

    great post cheryl!!

  2. Yes!

    I think a lot of us have the dream to write a novel, find an agent and get published. But sometimes we get overwhelmed with the steps to get there (and by "we" I mean "me"). It's a lot of hard work, it's a long process and most of the time, I have no idea what I'm doing or how to navigate it this big long journey.

    But you're right. It's a commitment. Like anything else. You just have to do it. One step at a time. You just have to do it. That's pretty much it.

    I compare myself to others a little too much and often think that nobody really wants to hear what I have to say. I'm not entirely convinced my creative writing ability is publishable quality. I was a journalist in my past life, but creative writing is a whole other ball game. But, I'm learning that if you don't believe in yourself and your creative ideas, then nobody will. And you have to try, right? Otherwise you'll never know.

    Great post to get things started!

  3. great point about not comparing yourself to anyone. as you can see from my comment in the writer chat, i need to learn this!

  4. Ericka - Yeah, keeping a story line going for a couple hundred pages? Daunting!

    Lindsay - I agree. The steps to do it can be so overwhelming we figure, why bother? And yes, when I say "we" I mean "me!" And yes, as journalists, we try to avoid fiction writing. Also? I find it difficult to come up with stuff when I haven't actually interviewed someone for the dialogue!

  5. At this point I think I'm over the fear and the insecurity and it's quite simply a matter of time and energy. With full-time work, two kids adn a divorce in process I'm time- and energy-poor at the end of a long day.

    I crave time to write. I have so much swimming around in my head and long for stolen moments to transfer it to paper. I actually took a weekend away to write a few months ago, a luxury I've never before allowed myself, and it was wonderful. I drove to the next state, found a hotel room and wrote my heart out. Ended up with one of the strongest essays I've ever written. I wish I could do that more often.

    Found your site through Blogflow. Glad I happened across it.

  6. The Deadly D's! And the need to support myself - these are the things that hold me back. I really like to eat, so I have no problem dedicating and disciplining myself to get the 'write for work' stuff done, but then it seems all my drive to write my stuff fizzles out. It's too late, my brain is tired, I just don't want to right now. Either that or there are 50 ideas spinning around in there and I can't get one to stop long enough to say hi, much less catch it on paper. Right now I'm working on adjusting my schedule so that my writing comes first and work writing second, but what happens if I lack the three D's when it comes time to paying the bills? In the end, maybe the problem is just fear.

  7. I can't even tell you how much I needed to read this today. Because I've had time. I have a babysitter once a week. I have an idea. But I still haven't written a single word of it.
    Loving this space already :)

  8. And then there are critquers who with a word dismiss all your work as worthless.
    You just persevere.
    BTW nice post and nice job, almost 50 followers already!

  9. I'm definitely on the insecure boat. That's what holds me back, the fear of people not liking what I write, or worse, not reading it at all. I fortunately have plenty of time, I don't have children, just a doggy and a boyfriend, but I still can't find the words most of the time. Thanks for this blog, it's nice to know I'm not alone. :)

  10. Wanderlust - wow, a weekend away just to write? Awesome! I fear if I did that I'd just pass out and sleep the entire time. Let us know how you end up carving time out for yourself on a more regular basis.

    Wendy - Yes, when we get through the noise and to the bottom of it all, sometimes it IS just the fear, isn't it?

    Corinne - Plus, you're doing a LOT of writing on your blog, and you've been trying new stuff, so that's a great start!

    Andrew - Thanks! Maybe we'll do a post on thick skin ;)

    Charlie - You are SO not alone! You know that saying, "Dance like no one's watching?" Maybe we need to say "Write like no one's reading!"

  11. I have some fear. Fear that it won't be as good as it needs to be to sell.

    I was also held back for a while on deciding to make it fiction or non-fiction. I've decided on fiction, this way I can add elements or the way I would have liked it to have turned out.

    I get stuck a lot. I get an idea, put it down on paper, let it marinate for a while and then nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

    Then another idea comes and I write it down, do some research, let it marinate and again, nothing.

    I'm having a hard time putting it all together. Oh, and I lack motivation.

  12. Hi! I found you on Andrew's FB and followed your blog here! I'm so glad I found you. I Hope you don't mind my FB request. :D

    What's holding me back is time and too much to do. I have 4 kids and there's no school and we can't afford putting them through fun summer classes so they're always home.

    Editing is so methodical and mathematical for me--I try to enjoy it. I need time to work on it. I've committed myself to edit 3 hours a day (not counting when the kidlets are tucked away in bed). That's hard to do when my oldest is away camping. *Sigh*

    But I will be published! ;)

  13. It's been wonderful reading everyone's comments and Wanderlust - I so envy the weekend away!! I'm afraid I'd use it to sleep though...

  14. I've got fear, inertia and time constraints working against me... It's much, much easier to procrastinate. So. Much. Easier.

    Historically, it has been less painful to say, "I'm going to write a book" than to say, "I'm trying to write a book and it's going terribly."

    I experienced a shift recently, though, and it has become immensely more painful to ignore this dream. And so we begin.

  15. Missy - "I'm trying to write a book and it's going terribly."

    that's what they'll write on my tombstone. i'm sure of it.

  16. Missy - Ah, inertia. I know it well.

  17. I am a new follower! I think having so little time and exhaustion get in the way of writing that novel. I actually did write something and just did not get it out.I look forward to following your blog! Come and visit Mama's Little Chick.

    Mama Hen

  18. I'm a big chicken really. If I don't make time to write, then there's nothing to be rejected and I don't have to put myself out there. Fear can be really paralyzing.

  19. Yep. Fear is absolutely paralyzing.

  20. Oh lordy, this post totally gets me.

    Sometimes I even amaze MYSELF with the list of excuses I can come up with to not write.

    Along with all the things listed above (fear, insecurity, time, etc), I've decided to blame my couch for holding me back. The kids go down, the house goes quiet, and suddenly the couch calls to me. I try to resist, try to plant my ass in the computer chair and type something. Then I hear that annoying voice inside say, "Nah, you suck anyway." To the couch I go.

  21. I blame twitter. I CAN blame twitter, right? I think I'm incapable of writing more than 140 characters..

  22. This right here? what you and Cheryl are doing is FABULOUS!

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I can't end my story...that's my problem... it changes as I change...

  23. Doubt.

    Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

    LOVE this space. So glad I clicked over from The Empress, and can't wait to read more. Thanks for creating it.


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