I’m about to go back to a novel I’ve been struggling with for years. With a mix of relief and anxiety I had to stop working on it for five months while I finished my book on writing, Courage & Craft. (John Wiley & Sons is publishing it in the fall). After I sent the final manuscript off to my editor and before going back to my novel I got really busy cleaning all the closets in my house. Then there was a fundraiser for WriteGirl and having 75 people to the house of course required planting new flowers in the garden which took up a nice chunk of time. Then best of all ways to avoid writing: a little construction project on a cabin I have in the mountains. Meanwhile this blog is another way to avoid the novel (hey, I’m writing aren’t I?) Then I had all my students’ papers to read and then a potluck at my house for the last class of the quarter.
Today is the first day in over a month that I Have Nothing I Have To Do. And now I’m thinking I should clean my office. Who can write in such a mess? I’m thinking Stuart and Charlotte need to be brushed. I’m thinking maybe I’ll jump in the car and go check out the construction project in the mountains. And I realize this tap dance I do before starting a writing project is just part of the process. I wish I could sit down right this minute and plunge in. I wish I felt a little bit more secure about the whole thing. There’s nothing harder than writing a novel (or so I believe.) You do need to clear space – psychic and literal space. My husband is out of town and on the phone this morning I tell him (warn him actually) that I’m going to start working on the novel again. All those characters are about to move back into my life and I hyperventilate just thinking about them. They need room, space to breathe. And so do I before I welcome them back into my life. I need to spend whole days reading and being quiet. But I know they’re coming. And I’m getting ready for them.
To Do: Write about your own process before you can write. What are your writing rituals? What’s the fine line between getting ready to write and procrastinating? Write a list of what you need to begin writing.
To Do: Send us a writing problem or your list about what you need to begin writing for the Writing Clinic. Click on Comment below or send an e-mail to us at