There was a time when I very rarely allowed myself to write fiction.
Growing up, writing fiction was my go-to. It was the thing I loved. It was the thing that most inspired me and made me dream bigger.
I spent hours writing fiction as a kid. I even wrote a 120-page novella in three days when I was 13.
In college (and afterward), I took every fiction writing class I could get my hands on. I read books about it to no end.
But as an adult, I rarely let myself write any fiction.
It was only when I was taking a continuing education class where the assignment was to write fiction that I spent the most time on it. I was the biggest procrastinator in this area. I just didn’t know why.
In early 2008, I committed that I was finally going to write my first full-length novel. It was something I had attempted many times over the years and always stopped. That year, I decided I was doing it for real.
And I did. By my birthday in 2008, I had the first draft of my first novel (I even finished it by candlelight on a laptop with a dying battery during Hurricane Ike; I was that committed to finishing).
I spent many years after that studying craft and the art of storytelling.
I watched more movies than I can count or keep track of. I read fiction as often as possible.
I made my life all about fiction. But there was a huge problem: I wasn’t actually writing much of it.
I was studying it and reading about it. I was watching movies. I was thinking about stories I wanted to write.
But there were very few words actually getting onto the page.
I tend to be very motivated by “enough is enough” deadlines. Basically, a deadline I set after reaching a “fuck this shit” point where I’m annoyed and fed up and ready to finally get serious about a goal.
So in early 2015, after enough was enough, I committed to that being the year I published my first novel.
And, again, I did it. I finished revising a novel draft I wrote two years prior, and I published it in June 2015. After 18 years of dreaming about it, I finally did it.
But since then, writing fiction has been sporadic at best. I’ve had years where I write it like crazy, and years where I don’t write much at all. (Although last year I did publish a novella.)
I procrastinate on writing fiction more than anything else in my life.
Writing nonfiction is easy for me. I can write that in my sleep. And I love it so much.
But fiction is where my heart is. And where it has always been.
Fiction is what my soul has always called me to. It’s where I feel the most challenged and the most resistance but also the most at home.
Writing fiction makes me happy. Period.
I just spent the last 30 minutes working on a scene in my new novella that comes out later this year. And I feel like I’ve already had the most accomplished and productive day.
Everything that gets done after this is just a Bonus.
‘Cause I’ve already done the thing I most want to be doing every day.
The thing that lights me up and fuels me.
The thing that makes me grateful and so happy that I get to be me, living this life, and doing this thing. That no matter what happens, my ability to write and tell stories will never leave me.
It’s a gift I’ve been given and I’ve finally chosen to embrace it fully.
I eventually discovered the reason I used to procrastinate so badly, and why I still have so much resistance to writing fiction, is because I’m not yet being paid to do it. It’s something I desire to be paid for, and I have been paid for when I first published my novel and sold a whole bunch of copies.
But it’s not something that regularly pays me. Yet.
And we’re taught that if something isn’t making you money or creating some other kind of physical impact in your life, that it’s not worth your time.
I thought that way about writing fiction for far too long. I believed the lie that if it’s not making you money, it doesn’t deserve to receive your time or attention.
And this is why so many creative people are living lives where they very rarely get to do the creative things they want to be doing. Where the creative things are the things that most get put off, pushed away, or shoved on the back burner for “later.”
All the while never realizing that by not doing those creative things you feel called to, you’re literally suffocating your soul and avoiding the greatest source of pleasure and happiness and purpose and connection and freedom you have access to.
What I finally realized was that, when I write fiction, I go to bed at night feeling like I had a purposeful, accomplished day. And when I don’t, I feel like my day was a chaotic waste where nothing important really got done (even when so many things did).
So I finally gave up the procrastination (for the most part!) and learned to set the resistance aside, so that more days than not, I get my fiction writing done.
I finally committed to writing fiction for the sake of it.
Not because it makes me money (although one day I know it will). Not because I’m being paid to do it or told to do it by someone else.
But simply because I want to. Because it’s the thing that makes me feel alive and most connected to my soul. Because it’s the thing that I live and breathe and will ride or die for.
And that is worth everything. Even if I spend the rest of my life simply doing it for the sake of it.
That’s the point anyhow.