I’m still putting the final little touches on my first novel, due out in January. (I’m one of those people who cannot stop tinkering, so I’ll probably be messing with for as long as I can.) But recently I had an idea for another one.
It’s just an idea at the moment. I’m still working out whether this idea has the potential to be a full novel and if there’s a market for it.
But there’s something else I have to consider if I decide I’m going to write this, and it’s something everyone needs to take into account when starting a new project:
What am I willing to give up?
New projects aren’t just about beginnings. They’re also about endings — even if only temporarily.
Starting something new — be it a writing project or something else, like deciding to take up running — takes time. The time that your new project takes up will be time that you were using for something else.
After all, everyone always talks about how busy they are, don’t they? When was the last time you heard anyone talk about the huge amount of free time they have? We’re always working or parenting or side-hustling or seeing friends or working out or doing any number of hobbies.
So you don’t have a spare hour a day just sitting there waiting to be filled with whatever project you want to start (in my case, writing a new novel). You will have to give up something. Even if you think you do have a spare hour, it’s probably dedicated to something, even if you don’t realise it.
For example, maybe you have an hour after work dedicated to unwinding — Netflix, a glass of wine and some casual Facebook browsing. Maybe that’s what will have to go.
The most common way around this is to stay up and hour later at night, or wake up an hour earlier in the morning, and dedicate that time to your project. And that’s fine, but you’re still sacrificing something: sleep.
So again, you need to ask the question:
What am I willing to give up?
Can you sacrifice an hour or two of sleep? Or perhaps the better question is: do you want to? Is your new idea, your new project, worth it?
Do you want to cut short after-work drinks, meetups with friends, video games, Zoom quizzes, your favourite show?
Because something will have to go. You just have to decide what it is. And decide if the sacrifice is worth it.
And what you’re willing to give up — how much you are willing to sacrifice — will give you an idea of how important your new project is, of how much you really want it.
Take my example — the new novel idea. What am I willing to give up to get enough time to write it? And what if I’m not? What if I don’t want to give up Netflix of an evening, or a weekly online video game session with my friends?
Maybe it’s a sign I don’t want it enough. A sign that I either don’t believe in the idea or don’t believe in myself. Worryingly, it could be both.
How much do you believe in your new idea? Think about what you will give up for it, and you’ll know.