I haven't started a new novel since Nanowrimo 2008. All last year, I edited and wrote short stories and learned a lot--but I didn't start a new novel. I thought I would in November, and I did write the first scene, but then I made myself wrap up my revision project, promising myself I would start Dark Fantasy Work-in-Progress (DFWIP) on the New Year.
Then I got an idea for a short, mid-grade novel. I could do that and have it done before World Horror! I began outlining, then realized the idea was flat and lifeless. So I threw myself into a new short story project. And then I realized something: that I was putting off my DFWIP. On purpose.
Why? It's not because I'm not excited about the project. I love the idea and think the characters have all kinds of potential. It's not because I don't love writing, because obviously, I'm putting off writing DFWIP to pursue other writing. It's just because writing a novel is a humongous commitment. Writing a book commands all your writing time for a long time, and when you get done, there's a chance you might not have anything to show for it.
I know this for a fact, because I've written three "practice" novels that are now fit only for recycling (or harvesting for future world-building exercises). I am terrified of creating another piece of crap, even if I have learned a great deal from producing literary excrement.
And let's face it: writing a novel opens the doorway to chaos in my household. Just creating a rough draft will take me close to two months. Two long, tiring months where many days I won't feel like folding laundry. Or sweeping the floor. Or cleaning the fridge. And the mess is just the tip of the iceberg. During those two months, I'm going to be pissed off at all of my friends. There's nothing like writing a book to encourage people to invite you to potlucks and parties and gaming nights and meetings, and saying 'no' to them over and over and over makes me really grumpy.
In fact, there are so many good reasons not to write another novel that any normal human being would just walk away from the computer and go watch tv.
But I'm not a normal human being. I'm a writer. And I've got a new novel to start.