Eric Sipple is a web developer by day and a writer by night. His first novel, Broken Magic, was published in September and is available on Amazon. Read his thoughts on writing and rejection, film and novels, and living with mental illness at Saalon Muyo. He hangs out on Twitter as @saalon, where he hopes you’ll find him, because he’s a loudmouth and loves to chat.
When I tell someone I wrote a novel, the most common response is, “I wish I could write a novel.” They usually have an idea – often a really good one! – and maybe even have some of it written. They just can’t see themselves at the other end of the tunnel, finished novel in hand. My response is always the same.
“You can write a novel.”
In January, if someone told me they’d just run seven miles straight, you know what I’d have said? I wish I could run seven miles. I couldn’t even go a single mile without having to walk half of it. The gulf between a half-mile of speed and an hour of continuous, lung-burning motion was infinite. The people who could do it were on the other side of the chasm. They were born on that side, and I could no more join them than become a dolphin and swim to the Galapagos Islands.
Two weeks ago, I ran seven miles straight.
Before I wrote my first novel, Broken Magic, I knew I wanted to write it. It was just so far from here to there. What if I hated my idea halfway through? What if I hit a dead end? What if I stopped, and everyone knew I stopped, and I had to look them in the eye and see their disappointment? The enemy wasn’t the novel itself, but the fear of how long I’d have to find a way to fail.
There was only one way I could fight that fear: avoid it. There are some fears that are too enormous to get your mind around, too daunting to face head on. Once I decided I was going to write Broken Magic, I stopped thinking about whether or not I could write it all. I didn’t know if I could or not, but I knew I could write today, and when today was over, and I’d slept, and woken up, and had my coffee, all I had to do was the same thing: write for one more day. The same way that I only worried about getting through one run – going a little faster, a little further – I only allowed myself to fear that one day’s goal.
There were days where I failed, where I didn’t write, but because I wasn’t worried about the whole novel I only had to get back up and write the next day to get back on track. A day was a battle I could win. Eventually I won enough battles to win the war. I had a novel because I built it one day at a time.
If you can write today, you can write anything you want. A blog post. A short story. A play. A film. A novel. It doesn’t matter what you hope to have written at the end. Write today. Just today. Write today and there’s nothing you can’t do.