I've got a couple of interesting ideas rolling around in my head, ideas that could evolve into good short stories. The thing is, they've been just rolling around in my head for several months now, and I haven't done a single thing to bring them out and put them onto the page. So what am I waiting for? Why don't I just start writing and get it done? One of the big reasons is motivation. There's much to be said for the power of the deadline. When I partcipated in NaNoWriMo last November, the scimitar of November 30 was hanging heavily over my head - write those 50,000 words by then or you're a loser! Added to that was the personal competition of several of my close blogger friends, making it feel somewhat like a horse race with our fingers pounding the keyboard like Secretariat's hooves on the racetrack. Now, as interesting as those story ideas are, I have so many other things to do - like traveling, and eating out, working and shopping, and writing this blog. There's no reason to hurry ~ I can write those stories anytime at all. But at this rate, that anytime could turn out to be the twelfth of never! The other thing barring the door on these stories is my inner critic. That's the voice that says "Why bother wasting time on those stories? What's the point? No one's ever going to read them." In an essay entitled Calming the Inner Critic and Getting to Work, novelist Allegra Goodman wirtes that "the only way out of this trap is to concentrate on writing itself, for itself. The writer who is enamored of her material forgets all about censoring herself." Goodman also accuses this inner critic of being the writer's number one scapegoat. "There is no better excuse for getting nothing done than to lock yourself in battle with the the famous demons of self-criticism and doubt." In Pen On Fire, Barbara DeMarco Barrett affirms this advice. "Write because you love doing it, because you like how you feel when you write... because the stories you long to tell are important." I would add to that last sentence, "even if only to you." As I learned in completing NaNoWriMo, the momentum of the story carries you forward, and you find you must learn the ending for yourself, even if for no one else. Writing is definitely a challenge, and I need a challenge to myself - get those stories down on paper because they need to be told. Silence the inner critic that urges you to set them aside because they're "not good enough." Here's my challenge to myself, in black and white for all of you to see. I will complete one of those stories by January 31, 2007. I will get it done! How about you? What writing (or other creative project) do you need to get done? And what's holding you back?