Over the past week I have written 36,000 words. That’s excluding articles for work and my travel blogs.
It all started when I was sitting in my room late one night in Panama City. The family was asleep, but I felt as though sleep were miles away for me. I was restless and full of energy. But whenever I tried to do anything—read my book, practice yoga, watch Netflix—I found myself unable to focus. I kept thinking about the craziness I’d experienced over the past two months of travel. I was reliving it over and over; it was like there was something I was missing, or some reason the memories wouldn’t leave me alone.
I’ve never been one to talk about my thoughts. Instead, I write. It’s how I process everything, so when a thought or memory won’t leave me alone, I start writing about it. That’s what I did that night when I looked at the clock it was 1am. I looked at my word count. It was close to 7,000.
I was finally able to sleep.
The next day I flew to Colombia. I spent the whole flight writing and when I got to my hostel, I went straight to my room and kept writing. Any moment I wasn’t writing, whether I was in a taxi or eating dinner or exploring the city, felt like a moment wasted. The words were flowing through my mind and I had to get them out.
I stayed up until 3am writing that night.
I’ve been “working on a book” since I was 10. I always have an idea and a bunch of half-written chapters, but I have yet to actually finish any of those books. My reasoning usually sounds like a teenager explaining why she hasn’t cleaned her room. “I’m busy, I’ll do it later, I promise.” But as every mother of a teenager knows, it never happens later. I have a document of book beginnings filed under the “Novels” folder in my computer, but none of them are more than ten or so pages long. Even the book I’ve been “working on” since July has been stuck in the mud for a while.
But this time it was different. I hit some sort of groove I’ve never been in and I couldn’t stop writing. As of last night I surpassed 35,000 words. My travels are my main inspiration for my writing and this past couple of months was like a concentrated pill of inspiration.
I often write stories based on travel experiences or inspired by things I see on the road, but nothing ever comes of that. Maintaining a regular writing regimen (maintaining any kind of regimen for that matter) is especially difficult when you are somewhere new every day. I often feel guilty for spending my free time writing instead of exploring or socializing. So I’ll scribble bits of story here and there, but I rarely give myself the freedom to just write for as long as the words come.
When I was at the Envision Festival I went to a talk called, “Accessing Creativity.” The speaker said something about how the main reason we don’t make time for creative expression is fear. Fear of what will happen if we actually follow our dreams and fail.
Then and there I promised myself I would make time for my dream. I would make time to write and stop using travel as an excuse for avoiding it. I ditched my self-guilt and made room for my dream instead. And for the first time, writing a book isn’t just a dream of mine; it’s a goal.