I’m certain writers spend a lot of their time not writing. Not because we’re busy with other occupations, family responsibilities or the time-sucking minutiae of daily life. When we do have a spare ten minutes to write, do we actually use that time to write? Or do we do something else – make a coffee, put on a load of laundry, or fall into an Instagram abyss?
I’m writing a new book. Supposedly. This one is more ambitious than my first novel. Instead of one POV character, I’ve got two, maybe three. The story alternates between the 1950s and present day Brisbane. It isn’t a cosy mystery like my first novel, but it is another murder mystery. I’m been ruminating on it and researching, doing some staring into space… but I haven’t actually started writing it.
So why not? I really need to get cracking. I have a 9 month old baby and there’s only a few tiny windows of time in my day where I can write. I should be taking advantage of these opportunities. But I don’t. Instead I vacuum or upload baby photos to the laptop or wonder if there’s something I can sell on eBay.
Obviously I’ve got some serious procrastination issues here. I’ve thought about why and I’ve come up with three main reasons why I’m not writing:
- Sheer laziness. I’m sleep deprived. This makes the task of amazing writing even more challenging than usual. And writing a book is hard work. The first book was much harder than I thought it was going to be. It took years! The thought of taking years to write another book isn’t sitting well with me. I want it written yesterday. So when it all feels too hard, I just do nothing.
- Self doubt. Yep, all the writers have been here. Even the published ones. A ‘fear of failure’ complex. What’s the point of putting in all this time and effort if no one will ever read the book, apart from my family and friends? I’m proud of my first book but now it’s done it feels a bit anti-climactic. Is that it? If an agent doesn’t want me based on that book, is that it? If no publishers like it, why would they like anything else I write? Poor me, etcetera.
- Guilt. As a new parent I feel like all my spare time should be devoted to my son. If he’s sleeping, I should be doing his laundry. Researching schools for him. Making baby food. That’s what parental leave is for, right? And he’s just started crawling so neglecting the vacuuming might be perilous to his health. I should probably also mop or something. I don’t know.
Fellow writers, we all know I’m not going to throw in the towel. I don’t really have a choice. I’m excited about my idea and somehow, this book is getting written. I’ll just bash out an 80,000 word draft over the next few weeks. Don’t worry. I’ve got this.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to hang the baby’s washing on the line, and then make a Spotify playlist. For inspiration! I swear …