The day I finished writing my first book I was flying high. I mean that both figuratively and literally. I was in an airplane on a vacation to visit family in Arizona.
This was not the first time I had attempted to write a novel. I have five unfinished novels in files on a flash drive somewhere. Over the years I found one excuse after another for why I couldn’t find the time to finish them. I was too busy. I had too much responsibility. I was too tired.
I blamed my job, my kids, my kids’ activities, my husband, groups I chaired, how I felt, a messy house, my inability to focus. Sometimes I blamed other books…it was so much easier to read them then to write them.
I wasn’t even sure I liked to write. I mean, I had to do it all the time on my job, so why the heck would I want to write when I got home?
Then I would be inspired by something – my children, a love song, something I read or watched on TV, a winning baseball game. The urge to capture the moment in words was strong. I would drop everything and start writing. Until I ran into writer’s block, and then the excuses started all over again. It was just easier to quit then to keep writing. So I quit. Over and over and over again. Time passed. A lot of time.
Then one day, I heard a bit of advice from a successful author. I was listening to a self-help CD on a topic that had nothing to do with writing. The CD was actually meant for someone else. The woman on the tape was talking about her struggle with anxiety and stress and her method to overcome them. But in the course of conversation, she said a funny thing.
She said she had struggled to publish her first book because she was afraid of failing. Her fear made her anxious. She lacked confidence. She didn’t know if she could write or particularly liked doing it. She worried she wouldn’t be successful.
Then she had an epiphany. What if writing were like exercise? She didn’t like to exercise, but when she went to the gym on a regular basis she felt better, which motivated her to keep going.
Two years ago, I started feeling bad. My job was really stressful. I had gained weight. My hair fell out in clumps. I had to go to the dermatologist for a skin disorder. I suffered from terrible heartburn and acid reflex that had me up at night. I needed to do something to change things and fast. So I began to run. At first I could barely run around the block. But soon I was running a mile and then two. I joined a gym and began working out with a trainer. I lost 10 lbs. My hair stopped falling out. My skin disorder cleared up.
I wasn’t getting any younger though. The words of that author came back to me. Did I really want to write? Wasn’t that my dream? What if I treated my writing like exercise? A little bit every week, consistently. Don’t stop, no matter what. Keep on going, no matter the distractions.
I decided to give it a try. I wrote in bits and pieces and snatches of time. At my kids swim meets and during volleyball tournaments. Late at night when the rest of the house was asleep. On that airplane.
Nine months later, not only did I finish the book, but I learned something about myself. I like to exercise. I like to write. And the more I do both, the better I feel.