There are authors — many of them still living — who have published hundreds of books throughout their professional lives. This, of course, doesn’t even take into account the dozens of things they have likely written or attempted to write that never made it to even the initial stages of publishing.
I bet that even after they publish their last book, they will still have — at the very least — a handful of ideas they never had the chance to turn into stories.
This is probably a much more common “problem” than you think. But if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all the stories in your head, trying to get them out, trying to do a good job of it, you know the struggle.
Your brain is just too full of fragments of ideas. And you can’t spend your whole life sitting behind a desk telling stories. You can’t spend all your time writing. Not if you’re going to do it well.
What most writers struggle with isn’t writing a good book or telling a decent story. It’s balancing their urges to create with everything else that comes with being a person living in the real world.
You will never write everything you want to write because there are just too many possible narratives for a single person to transform into tales in a single lifetime. And you can’t write if you don’t live, and you can’t live if you just sit and wait for things to happen to you so you can write about them.
But you can still put forth the effort and write more things than you ever thought you were capable of. Some how, some way.
I can’t assess your individual writing roadblocks in a blog post. I don’t know what you’re struggling with creatively or any of the things that are going on outside your creative bubble that may be preventing you from writing the stories your mind and body are craving.
But I do know there are multiple possible solutions to every creative roadblock. I also know that if you really put in the time and energy to overcome the barriers holding you back and make writing as much of a priority as your life allows in the moment, you might just end up coming close to writing it all, even if you never actually do.
Eliminate your distractions. Compromise with your loved ones. Sacrifice small segments of your free time (but not all of it). Pay attention to your mental, physical, and emotional health. Love the people around you and yourself. Don’t shut out the benefits of real-world experience. When you fall down, get back up. If you can’t, ask for help.
While none of these things will automatically make you write more or better, they will help create the pocket of space that needs to exist in your life so that you can create freely without worry, without interruption, without fear. It might be a space in the middle of chaos that only lasts five minutes. It might be a clearing off the main hiking trail that lasts an entire afternoon.
Then and there, at least, you can write some things, and work toward some goals, and feel like you’re finally Doing the Writing Thing even if it’s not a lot or that great or very fun.
You may never become a bestselling author. You may never run a successful blog or become a something-you’re-good-at coach or publish a memoir. You may have this big dream that hovers above all the rest of your much smaller, much dimmer ambitions that’s just too big and you work toward it your whole life and it never quite happens.
But don’t you at least want to be able to say you tried?
All that really matters, in the end, is that you wrote things that helped you fulfill a purpose. Maybe your words helped you overcome something that happened in your past. Maybe they helped you earn enough money to quit your job and do the charity work that fills your heart. Maybe they helped someone else take charge of their life and go on to do amazing things — even if they never come back around to thank you for your prose.
As long as you write the things that matter to you, those things will go on mattering long after you’re gone.
Follow your heart, and your creative spirit, and dare to dream. Dream big, don’t hold back. Work hard. But also live. Let writing supplement the wonderful things in your life. Have no regrets. Try. And succeed in all the big and small ways you can manage. Always remember it’s worth every moment.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.