Saturday, March 17, 2007

I was going to write a book, but Oprah was on.

You want to write a book. It is on your to- do list right between Lose Weight and Travel More. It’s one of those things you definitely want to get to before you die. Or maybe you are more serious, you have a notes, outlines, a good idea about who your main character will be. You, at least, know it will be about a man. Or a woman. Definitely one or the other.

Still writing a novel is your dream.

But how much respect are you showing that dream? Do you work toward it every day? Week? Month? Ever? Do you think you will die wanting to write a book or having written a book?

I know all the stall tactics. I’ve done them. I’ve said “I’ll write after the holidays,” and I have said “I’ll start that novel as soon as life calms down a bit.” I’ve made writing like dieting, always next month.

Then I read one of those inspirational self- help style books for aspiring writers. In it one part spoke about how many hours you have each day and the sacrifices you have to make in order to write. No, you don’t have to stop watching American Idol, never see another Superbowl, or go without your daily fix of Access Hollywood- we all want to know what is the current status of Britney’s Spears hair, don’t we?

But what if you did have to give up all that in order to become a published writer? Could you? Could you stay inside hunched over a computer on the first day of Spring when you can almost feel the breeze calling your name? Could you type until you work up a sweat, your hands cramp, and your eyes feel like they will bleed? Of course, you could. Will you?

To become a published writer you don’t have to give up everything else in your life. All your experiences make you a more well rounded person and a better writer. But you do have to give up something. And it just might be Oprah.

Take one hour of TV watching a day and instead write. Even when you have nothing to say, write. Even when you think you are a talentless hack, write. Even though no one may ever see your words, besides your mom. That is if you could convince her that your half-finished novel about aliens who take over the bodies of Hollywood A-listers is a Mother’s Day present. Even if no one but your cat knows you are a writer, write.

If your dream is to write a novel then you have to give up something to get that dream. Once you are writing everyday you are moving toward your goal. It’s easy to say one day. Let that one day be today.

If not today, when? When Oprah is over?

Or are you going to put your dreams first for once?

Are you still reading this? Grab a pen or open a word document. Write that novel. Now.

By Sara Pufahl

If you are a writer who aspires to write your first novel but needs support and encouragment then join Brand New Aspiring Writers Group


Susan Abraham said...

Dear Sara,

But how much respect are you showing that dream?

I thought this a very insightful question. It sort of brushes away every excuse, doesn't it.
love always

The Wandering Author said...

Sara, this is a wonderful article, and every would-be writer who isn't putting words on paper at least most days needs to read it and take it to heart.

I would add one point; if you can't bear to stay indoors, and want to get out in the fresh air, just take a pen and a Moleskine or even a cheap steno notebook with you. Sit outside, in a deck chair, on a boulder, wherever you like, and write. It's what I do - of course, my cats make me... ;-)

Saoirse Redgrave said...


Great article--could probably be fished out to Writer's Digest or any number of other writing mags.

I think it is the denial of the dream that so many of us struggle with (maybe we're martyring ourselves subconsciously). I've started and stopped more novels and stories than I care to count. It's disgusting, really, but I think it's part of my way of avoiding the discomfort of potential success (and the guilt if I do succeed--surely other people have better tales to tell, right?).

Anyhow, I think you and I have some similar issues to work through in order to get our writing done. Maybe we actually need to get in contact and push each other...

PS--Splitting attention by helping a whole group of others versus helping ourselves is also a stall tactic I'm well aware of... ;-) Take care, girl!

writerwoman said...

Thanks for stopping by, Susan. You are the best! But, of course, you know I think that. Your supports means so much to me.

Hope all is well with you,


writerwoman said...


You are so right about taking your writing outdoors with you. Now I will be picturing you and those cats out enjoying the bright sunshine this Spring, writing away the hours.( Smile) A nice way to spend a life, don't you think, with our words? I know I do.

writerwoman said...


Your mentioned that my words may be on par with the advice in Writer's Digest made my day.

I know that I have fought through a fear of finishing my novel. I did some blog posts about it. It is the oddest phobia. Bizarre really. I think my problem is that once I finish it that will forever be the first novel I wrote. I can get to 99 percent done and then freak. I am right now trying to plow through Nikolas and Simone, my latest wip, and actually finish it. It's a struggle.

You should join my writing group, where we post about this stuff and all sorts of writing related issues, depending on what is on the members minds.

If you don't have time for that just drop me an email at whenever you want to gab about writing.


Lioness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lioness said...

You describe me perfectly. I have put off time and again writing my book - it has been started but I just can't get up to going past chapter 2!! And I thought only I suffer from this disgusting trait! Well, it just goes to show that indeed our greatest fear is not in our weakness but our strength! Great article - very insightful.