Why I Haven’t Finished Writing a Book in Two Years

There’s a pretty good reason.

When I was a sophomore in college, I wrote over 100,000 words in two weeks.

I don’t know how I wrote an entire novel in 15 days. I don’t remember a single one of them. But it happened. I have a hardcopy draft to prove it.

That’s how I used to write fiction: fast, yet thorough. Some mysterious creative hyperdrive in my brain just kicked in, and I got some really cool stories out of it.

The past two Novembers, I have started writing books. I have yet to finish either of them.

I’m trying. I’m making very slow progress (but still progress!) on my novel from NaNoWriMo 2015. But we’re talking a few hundred words a day. I am, apparently, in no rush to finish.

Yet I can’t wait to finish, to be able to put it behind me. To never have to look at it again.

The reason I haven’t just given up on it is because, honestly, I finish what I start. It’s just what I do.

The reason I haven’t finished yet is a little more complicated.

When I wrote that novel in 15 days, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was fast-approaching a major crossroads in my future career as a writer. You see, many people dream of publishing novels, of becoming best-selling authors. I did, at the time. I still do, every once in awhile.

Some people dream of a different kind of writing life – one that is, let’s be honest, easier. Not in the sense that it takes less work, of course. Journalism, or blogging, or being hired to write listicles. I spent many years of my life trying to convince myself I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to stick with the harder option. I had something to prove, I guess.

Then I realized my interest in health and my ability to arrange words nicely on a page were a match made to last. It took me about six years to turn that into a legitimate career, but I’ve done it, somehow.

As much as I don’t feel comfortable saying it … there’s just not as much time for writing fiction as there used to be.

I don’t have 15 days of empty space, during which I might write a novel about bees.

I would love to have more time. I just don’t.

I realized very recently that I no longer felt guilty for not spending as much time writing fiction as I used to. I’ve “made it,” as they say. I get up, I go to work, and I write. All day long. I come home. I write some blog posts, I write some articles, I slide into PJs and read and I am happy.

For someone who used to daydream about doing nothing but write novels for the rest of my life, this is strange. Knowing that publishing a book is no longer on my list of things to do before I turn 25.

It’s not that I’ll never write fiction again. I write fiction every day. I just spend minutes doing so, instead of hours. Writing stories is as essential for my wellbeing as breathing, and I mean that literally. My mental health depends upon transforming racing thoughts into some original burst of prose.

But I always dreamed of being a writer. I don’t care how I spend my hours writing, as long as I’m writing. As long as I’m doing what I’ve always known I was supposed to do.

It is freeing, to know there is no longer any pressure to finish a book.

It means I’m much more likely to actually do it.

I’m not making any promises. But I’ll keep at it. 100 words at a time.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Compose your words of wisdom

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s