When in Doubt, Part 3: Write A Novel, Or Two

Part 3 of the “When In Doubt, Do Everything At Once” series on Taste Life Twice. See Part 1 and Part 2.

This series of “When In Doubt” posts will deal specifically with how to get happy when you feel like you’re drowning in more questions than answers. I have frequently been in dips like this, as you can see from many of my posts. Sometimes I work out a problem on the blog here with you, but often it is expressed in activity in another sphere. Here is where I’m showcasing those other activities, and how I deal with uncertainty every day.

writing desk at a window

So with traveling and decluttering behind us, what else have I been up to that helped me get through the long period of uncertainty? Writing: it’s what I do to keep myself from going crazy.

I wrote two novels.

Let me explain. This series is titled “When in Doubt,” but I haven’t fully explained the doubt piece. It’s one most of are probably experiencing right now:

Is this my life’s calling? Is this what I really want to do with my life?

It’s either an impossible question to answer, or an incredibly simple one. Impossible if you think there is one true answer; simple if you approach your life as a big experiment.

Let’s look at it the Experiment Way, which has helped shape the direction of Taste Life Twice over the past year. The new philosophy:

“Just try it, you might like it.”

steamed broccoli

This may sound like a familiar line from childhood, but I’m not talking about broccoli (ick) or brussels sprouts (yum) here. I’m talking about those activities you want to try, but there’s an inner voice telling you “Too risky” or “Too much effort.”

What is life but risk and effort?

So you might as well take the risk and make the effort for something you think is worthwhile to spend your life on.

That’s how I came to start writing a novel in February of 2011. I had an idea for an opening line, and instead of conveniently submerging (read: drowning) it in a hefty to-do list, I started.

I took Ann Lamott’s credo of The Shitty First Draft to heart and just kept going. I’d always wanted to be a writer; what was really stopping me? Just me.

So I kept at it, eventually telling a few people that I was writing a novel, and then even setting up accountability buddies that would keep me on task to finish.

Almost as important as starting.

September 30, 2012 I finished that S.F.D. and made the decision to jump into NaNoWriMo to keep the mojo going. This meant that for the month of November, I got up before 6 AM, cut out any guilty thoughts of jogging, and trained my laser focus on writing 1,800 words every morning before work in order to complete a novel (defined as 50,000 coherent words strung together).

Just like the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race goal I’d set myself, I took to the challenge and felt invigorated by the sense of purpose it gave me, so lacking in other areas of my life. Now I’ve got two novels to edit!

Important Lessons to Draw from this Experience:

1) When In Doubt, Try It. You Might Like It.

2) Start.

3) Finish.

Basically, if you feel called to do something, give it a shot, and make it your best shot. Otherwise, you’re spending your life on something you’ll regret. Don’t be that person! Embrace the life you are meant to live!

What have you always wanted to do or be, but didn’t think it was possible? I bet there is some way you could give it a trial run…

16 Responses to When in Doubt, Part 3: Write A Novel, Or Two

  1. you go girl! I am super proud of you, not just be cause you finished two novels but because you DID it. So here is mine. This coming Wednesday I’ll present my girls’ running empowerment project to a group of people (I don’t know) in my city. And from there … We will see where it flows. I am going public with my idea! Scary but .. I am going to do it :-)

    • That is awesome, Rose! There is so much more possibility when you open up your idea to the world, so good luck presenting (facilitating!) and I will wait to hear how it goes :)

  2. Awesome! Congrats on wining NaNo! I participated this year, but didn’t win. But yeah, writing definitely has a soothing, happy feeling.

    Oh and I added you to my writers g+ circle. :)

    • Kim- thanks for adding me. This definitely boosts my “I am a writer” self-help program. Isn’t it weird that it’s hard to say you are what you are? Getting there…

  3. Beautiful! Just the motivation I need now that I’m knee deep in ingredients and trying to make them conform to all those guidelines I set. 😀

    I’m having a blast. Considering all the anxiety I used to bring to cooking, who would have thunk I’d turn into Remy from Ratatouille?

    And my kids are appreciating all the good food I’m cooking again after being in a bad slump for most of this year.

    I’ve started.

    Now to finish!

    • Hahaha- good thing ratatouille can sit on the stove or in the oven for hours, so not a big deal if you step out to read Da Blogs (which have a tendency to drown the attention span…) I bet it turned out delish! I love Ratatouille, too, but I also add kalamata olives. It’s awesome. Yay for trying and liking! :)

  4. Congrats on NaNo, Margaret. I love your powerful line: I started. It is truly the only way to get anything done! So simple, yet so hard.

    My husband and I recently started a blog. It is not the one thing we always wanted to do. In fact, neither of us had read blogs until about a month before ours went live. It was an amazing experience in trust and daring. I spent a few sleepless nights thinking, What will ____ think? What will ____ say? It has been one of the top three experiences in our marriage, and it may very well end up moving to the top spot. If the book we’re writing ever gets finished, that may be #1. We’ll have to vote! :)

    • Tammy- a blog and a book, together… that is courageous! It sounds like you agree that it’s the process of trying that is so rewarding, since you discover things about yourself and each other- the ‘trust and daring’ part. Bon courage and best of luck!

  5. Even though I technically “lost” NaNoWriMo in 2011, by month’s end I had 30,000 words worth of original articles. With that reserve of content (much of which has yet to be published), I felt confident enough to launch Agile Lifestyle.

    So I wholeheartedly agree with Just trying it!

    • Wow- Agile only started after Nano 2011?? It gives the impression of being around for much longer, probably because of the quality content (instigated by Nano- glad to hear it!) and amount of cross-linking. Well done!

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  8. Hi Margaret,
    I am just browsing your lovely site! I love your attitude to life. I am someone who has to be hauled around to a new idea kicking and screaming, but I’m beginning to change – slowly! So much of what you say is true. I have got to say that, with The Hazel Tree, I am beginning to find my life’s calling, and I’m opening up to new possibilities!
    I’ll keep checking back, meanwhile best wishes,

    • Thanks so much for your words, Jo! I love the events, histories, and stories that you bring our attention to on the Hazel Tree, and I have to say, it’s contributed to my desire to see northern England on my next trip over the pond! Fascinating stuff. :)

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