If you’ve been paying attention, dear inklings (and I know you have, because that’s just the sort of darling, attentive things you are), you already know that I harbor a love for all things sci-fi, and that this love includes a deep fondness for Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In Hitchhiker’s Guide, the astute reader learns that the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is 42.
Everything I’ve learned about life thus far causes me to tend toward agreement with this answer.
So, here’s the thing, y’all: When I think about writing and 42 and conversations with friends about writing and 42, I come to the conclusion that some of you, even though you do desire to write a novel, are simply petrified at the prospect of actually doing it.
This saddens me. And it angers me on your behalf, because I’m pretty darn-tootin’ sure that your fear is rooted in the fact that at some point, somebody told you you can’t.
They told you you’re not good enough. They told you you’re not smart enough. They told you you’re not educated enough or witty enough or old enough. They told you that you should wait until You’ve Got A Handle On Things, and then, maybe, you can settle in to do something creative. But right now, you’re just not freed-up enough.
Or maybe they told you you’re just not creative at all.
Whatever the actual words were, what they communicated to you was that You Are Not Enough.
And when they told you that, they subjected you to Fear. They made Fear your overlord.
This knots up my stomach and increases my heart rate because it is WRONG. It is UNJUST. It is NOT FAIR. And it is a LIE.
I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again:
You need not be subject to fear.
To write a novel, you have everything you need.
You have words. You know how to string them together in a way that makes sense. The bedrock of writing a novel is putting one word after the other in a way that makes sense, and doing it about 70,000 times.
That number? That 70,000? Psh, it’s nothing. You’ve already said a whole lot more than that over the course of your life. More than likely, you’ll say a lot more than that over the course of the next week.
In a novel, you’ll just write it down instead of saying it out loud. It’s that simple.
You’ve got an idea. You’ve been toying with it in your head. It pops up in your thoughts at inconvenient times, when you know you need to be paying attention to something else.
This happens because it wants you to write it. And because you want to write it. Together, you and your idea are supposed to be making something.
Who told you that you can’t?
You. Are. Enough. And don’t you dare contradict me on this. You are enough. No one has the right to tell you that you aren’t. You don’t have the right to tell you that you aren’t.
Words have power. The most powerful ones are the you say to yourself in your head.
You started telling yourself those words because somebody, somewhere, told you that you can’t.
Stop telling yourself that you’re not enough.
Stop telling yourself that you can’t.
Stop telling yourself that you don’t have time or energy or space or willpower or support or situation or framework or intelligence or education or resources.
What you have is idea. What you have is words. What you have is universe.
You have everything.
You are possessed of beauty and strength and life.
Now take your everything and put words together in a way that makes sense. Take your enough and write a novel.
And that’s WILAWriTWe.