“I’d like to write a book someday.”
That’s the response I get when I tell people I’ve written a novel. Sometimes there’s a “wow” before that, but usually it’s followed by a string of excuses. “I’d like to write a book someday, but I just don’t have the time” or “I don’t know how” or “I have no writing skills”.
At first, I found myself a little offended by their excuses. Did they think I shut myself off for a year to write? Did they think I had every minute of every day to work on the novel? Did they not realize what I gave up so I could achieve a finished piece of writing?
I spent hours and hours writing my novel in the mornings and evenings, editing, rewriting, and editing again. I didn’t have time — I was coaching full time, getting two master’s degrees full time, and traveling constantly. I had never written a book before, nor did I technically have the educational background of a novel writer.
The truth is, I could have made all of those same excuses before I started writing that book. I could have continued to push off my want to write a book.
Reality is, I made writing a priority, and as a result, I have a novel out in the public. In fact, it was that prioritization that allows me to say I have three written, one 75% complete, and two more in the developmental stages. I continually experience the feeling of having written something.
The difference between “I’d like to write a book someday” and “I wrote a book” lies in what you’re willing to give up rather than finding obstacles to hide behind. People don’t necessarily want to deal with the effort it takes to write something, but they want to experience the feeling after; the feeling of having written something. The gap between actualizing that desire and avoiding it is partly about what you’re willing to go through to get it done and partly what you’re willing to give up to be a writer.
Writing a book is hard. You have characters to develop, plots to align, and connections to make. It takes careful crafting, sentence structure, and dialogue that keeps the reader engaged. There are a million little elements to putting a book together, and I’m not even talking about what comes after the book is written (because marketing it is a whole new challenge).
None of that can be done without time, but none of us have any time to give. We move from one thing to the next, barely breathing or eating or drinking water. We come up with routines and processes to streamline tasks so we can fit more things into our lives. We are endlessly busy.
But if we want to write, we have to be willing to give up some of those things.
Discovering a book idea within me helped me decide what was important in my day. I took an honest look at how I was spending my time and made cuts. I didn’t need that extra hour of snoozing in the morning when I could be writing. If I moved my workout to the morning hours instead of over lunch, I could write during my lunch break. I deleted social media apps from my phone and blocked streaming sites so I could eliminate distractions.
To make writing my novel a priority, I was willing to give up some of the perceived luxuries I had. Then, I wrote before class, on the exercise bike, between pitching lessons, and during meals. I was willing to push through the difficulties of writing so I could experience having written, and that feeling pushed me to do it again and again.
To be a writer, we have to be willing to give something up, mostly because writing for most people is a side gig or a hobby. It’s an addition that a lot of people don’t want to add into their busy lives. That something we need to give up comes in the form of time, and we already have a limited amount in our day. So, we have to find that time somewhere.
Writers, the ones who put pen to paper and fingers to keyboards, are the ones who are willing to give up, to sacrifice, so they can write. Your goal doesn’t have to be a book, but when you sit down and take the time to write, learn, grow… that’s what makes you a writer. You’re willing to go through the hard parts, but more importantly, you’re willing to give up your time for the feeling of having written.
What are you willing to give up to be a writer so you can feel what it’s like to have written? Writers can tell you from experience… it’s worth it.