Reading through my private journal from 2011–the year I wrote my first novel–it’s pretty clear why I had so much trouble writing that first novel.

I talked myself out of it. I don’t mean I convinced myself not to write it; I mean I wrote so much of the story to myself as I was thinking about the story that there was no story left to tell.

Most writers don’t talk about stories while they’re writing them. But I’ve always interpreted that as talking publicly, explaining your story to others. Now I’m realising how much of the storytelling tension can be released even when you’re only talking to yourself.

My literal hundreds of text files and dozens of paper notebooks are filled with what I’ve always called “Notes.” But in fact, they are stories, stunted before they ever had a chance to grow.