Question of the day: I really, really want to write fiction. I get so excited about doing it, but then I find a million reasons to procrastinate or focus on my other freelancing work. How can I get into the swing of things and actually crank out some pages?
Ah, yes. Tthis is why everyone believes that they can write a book. They have the brilliant idea, so how hard can it be to execute?
Well, as you're learning, the execution might actually be the hardest part. And trust me, I hear you. I STILL struggle to sit down every day and actually write. If left to my own devices, I'd fritter the day away on Facebook or Twitter or online shopping or gossip sites or...well, you get the idea. There are A LOT of ways to waste your day, especially when you're freelancing and actually devote a portion of that day to "real work." In those few moments in between, you may not want to be on the clock.
But here's the truth - as obvious as it sounds: if you don't write your book, IT WILL NOT GET WRITTEN. It's that simple. It will remain in your head forever, and every time you walk into a bookstore or read reviews in magazines, you'll think, "Oh, that should be me." But it shouldn't be you, BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT WRITTEN THE BOOK! There are just no two ways around it. You either write the book or you don't. And if you don't, there's no use in talking about it because...it's nothing more than an idea, an unfulfilled promise. Six years ago, I was one of those people: those I-can-write-a-book people. Finally, I got so sick of myself that I actually wrote the damn thing. It wasn't very good, but hell, I wrote it, so it was something. It was a step toward something else.
So what I recommend is this. Promise yourself that you will devote a small period of time - even just twenty minutes - to working on your fiction every day. Or establish a (low) word count that you must hit before you cruise over to your Scrabble app. Set an egg timer if need be. I've found that if you treat writing like exercise - something that maybe you dread but after a while, becomes a bit of a habit - it gets a lot easier. When I first started running, for example, the 45 minute jog was torture. But then I realized, really, anyone can pretty much tolerate 45 minutes of ANYTHING. So think of it that way: you can survive 20 minutes (or 45 minutes) of writing. You'll be absolutely none the worse for it.
Do this daily. Every day. Eventually, it will become ingrained. And even if you still dread it (as I sometimes do), it will be part of your routine, and you'll do it anyway. I went running this morning. I didn't love it, but it was second nature. The same will be true of your fiction. And if you don't, maybe that book - and a career as a novelist - isn't in you after all.
(See? You really don't like it when I imply that, so as I said - get writing.)