How Writing a Book is Like Riding a Roller Coaster

Writing a Book is Like Riding a Roller Coaster.

Writing Roller Coaster

Writing a book is sometimes like riding a roller coaster.

It’s been a long slog uphill as I’ve worked on a long piece of narrative non-fiction on and off for going on three years. The on part has been the research and some published articles; the off part has been a heavy sense of guilt for dragging my feet.

But in the last few weeks, something’s shifted, and I’m coasting now.

Maybe it’s a decision not to be so hard on myself, or to give up feeling badly about the slow pace of my creative process, or finally getting some snow in March. Whatever the reason, I’m riding this wave of focus and forward motion. In fact, I’ve dedicated myself to it so thoroughly that yesterday I didn’t draft my post for Live to Write – Write to Live. And this morning, I decided that I had to work on my project first.

So, while I’m sorry to disappoint any readers who look forward to my posts (and honestly, I have no idea if there are any readers who anticipate my alternate Tuesday posts), my excuse is that I’m modeling the behavior of a writer dedicated to her work. And like writers and plumbers and workers of all kinds, and parents and caregivers and volunteers, I have only so much time, compressed by middle age, when the reality of time running out becomes tangible.

Like all of us, I’ve had to prioritize, and today I put writing Learning to Hunt ahead of my commitment to this blog.

I know I’m lucky: I’m choosing one writing project over another. I know that many writers have to choose between making their kids breakfast or sitting down at their desk. I’ve been there – at that desk at five in the morning so I could write before the kids woke, and I taught them how to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as soon as they were counter height (with the help of a step-stool, I might add).

And while kids grow up, parents age. I’m now caring for my 93-year old dad. But I still make it a priority to write. And now, I’m making it a priority to advance the first draft of this book.

I’ve achieved a critical mass on this project, climbed up the steep slope of trying to figure out how to start. I’m now in one of those sections of composition where each decision I’ve made up to now makes the next one more evident.

I know this roller coaster, though. I’ve been on it before. And I know that there will be other steep hills ahead. But I’m making the most of this exhilarating ride where the words flow and the story takes place.

I’m counting on your forgiveness for posting a few hours late, and I’m wishing you all equally joyous rides where ink flows from your pens, forming just the right words on your page.

Deborah Lee Luskin makes her blog deadlines most of the time: every other Tuesday here with thoughts about the business and craft of writing, and essays every Wednesday at Living In Place. Thanks for reading.

13 thoughts on “How Writing a Book is Like Riding a Roller Coaster

    • And yet as the wise ones never fail to point out, we can’t appreciate the one without the other. . .Thanks for reading and commenting.

  1. Thanks for being so honest. And to point out that priorities and the amount of time we give them may change over time.

  2. thank you sincerely. It is great to hear and KNOW of the struggles and achievements of folk like yourself. Writing historical fiction was very hard for me (endeavouring to make the history 100% accurate yet wanting my fiction people to fit with the human aspect of their background. One day I hope folk like you could tell me if I succeeded. Don’t be too hard on yourself. A balanced life is hard to achieve but when writing is a passion it MUST have its clear space as well. Cheers! I value your honesty and encouragements.

  3. Good for you for putting your writing first. I know that’s a hard decision to make on most days, because we have so many other obligations calling us. Glad to hear you’re in that “zone”.

  4. It’s really useful to hear about the highs and lows, because it’s a solitary business this writing and to know that we’re not alone is a comfort and inspires us to battle on. Thanks. Katie x

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