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C’mon, You Know You Wanna… (Write a Book)

When book inc writer Jennifer Gaites tells people she is writing a book, they respond with "I've always wanted to write a book."

By Jennifer Gaites

March 13, 2023

Not everyone’s doing it (but they want to)

In the weeks leading up to the start of Novel Incubator, I started noticing a trend. Whenever I shared with someone that I’ll be writing a novel this year, I got a similar response. Whether it was a manicurist I’d just met, a friend over a long dinner, or an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in forever, it seemed like everyone responded with, “I’ve always wanted to write a book!” Sometimes, they even shared their amazing ideas. 

My response was always the same: “Do it!” Then, I’d tell them about book inc, Project Write Now, and the wonderful community of writers that could support them. And, maybe I became a little too enthusiastic—like some sort of bookish bully—because usually, they’d nod, smile, and slowly back away, saying, “Yeah, maybe. Someday.”

I get it …

A few years ago, I was the one backing away. Recoiling at the idea of writing 50,000 words of anything. I came to this writing endeavor slowly and, sometimes, even reluctantly. But in the last few years, with some encouragement from my writer friends, I thought, Why not?

Seriously … why not?

For some, it’s the time commitment. For others, it’s a lack of know-how. But for the most part, I’ve learned, what stops people is some combination of excuses that stem from their own resistance. It’s fear

In the Novel Incubator, we’ve been reading The War of Art where Steven Pressfield likens any creative endeavor to a battle. Sure, it’s an internal battle. But, the artist has to gear up, knowing it’s going to be a fight of discipline, a fight against all the excuses and outside forces telling them not to do it, a fight against that persistent inner critic that lives in each of us. 

There’s safety (and inspiration) in numbers

That’s where community comes in. When I feel my focus wander (That laundry really needs folding) or procrastination tempts (Ten minutes of Tik Tok can’t hurt) or my inner-critic harps (Who’ll want to read this, anyway?), I can rely on a group of writers who share the same goal–and often the same obstacles and insecurities. We check in daily, sharing the challenges and surprises that writing brings.

Turns out, there are lots of reasons people don’t write their stories, even stories they secretly carry for years. Fear should not be one of them; there are ways to overcome it. Getting the writing done may be a solitary activity. But the things that keep us from writing? Those reasons and excuses are not unique. We can push through together. 

Jennifer Gaites is a writing instructor at Project Write Now, and a book inc Peer Artist Leader. Her work has appeared in Literary Mama and is forthcoming in Hippocampus.