This will be my 223rd blog post. At around 600 words per post, that’s 133,800 words. The average novel is 80,000 words long. If I had taken all those words, all that inspiration, all that time, I would have written one and a half books by now. For someone with “write a book” firmly at the top of their bucket list, this is a sobering thought.
Blogging has allowed me to scratch my writer’s itch. It gives an immediate outlet for the thoughts that race around in my mind and demand release. But it has also stolen time and head space I might have used to write that novel.
So why I am writing this blog post, rather than getting started on a book?
Blogging is fun and tidy and immediate. There are no narrative puzzles to resolve. There are other people to play with. The work becomes reality within an or so hour or of its inception. As soon as you start, the end is tangibly close. It’s the sprint rather than the mountain climb.
I have established a discipline around writing this blog. I have fallen into a comfortable rhythm. Little pieces have been added and it has become something I am proud of. Tinkering away at my small space on the huge internet. It’s the small home projects rather than the building of the house.
A beautiful Facebook group I am part of was asked why they blog. The themes of creativity, community and connection kept coming through. There is a sense of being part of something larger when you blog. Even when we type individually at each of our devices there is a sense of sitting alongside co-creators. It feels more like a group pursuit rather than a solitary one.
The stakes seem smaller when I blog. If a blog post doesn’t hit the mark or the words don’t flow like I want them to, then it’s only an hour or so of my life that may have been wasted. But what if I spend hours and days and years and write a terrible novel? What if I can’t write a novel at all? Blogging is familiar and comfortable — a part of my every day while writing a book seems like the elusive stuff of dreams.
I (to some extent) control this blog. I don’t need to offer it up to someone else to have it realised. I could slave over a book and it could come to nothing if no-one else saw it’s potential. I could offer up something I was proud of, something I wanted to protect and have it smashed to smithereens. Blogging feels safer. Less sacrificial.
But for all of that — do I still want to write a book? Yes. Yes I do.
I don’t think fear should hold any one back and as I reflect on the reasons I am not writing a novel, fear seems to be at the heart of it. The fear of things unknown. The fear of rejection. The fear of going it alone.
At her recent talk Elizabeth Gilbert said that many of the best novels were written over years, within one hour a day. She said that to drive, you don’t need to see your destination, you only need to see the road before you. Practical truths. Fear soothing.
Another hero of mine, Pip Lincolne, has aptly summed up how you write a book – you write the book.
So, I suppose, I should just really write the book.