A while back at one of my writing classes I met an aspiring writer who had an addiction. See if you can figure out to what he was addicted. Our conversation went something like this:
"Can you give me some advice?"
"The thing is, I have all these great ideas but I just can't seem to find the time to write. I have a job and a family and it seems impossible."
"Could you get up a bit earlier every day or go to bed a bit later every day and carve out an extra half hour or so for writing?"
"Not really. If I don't get enough sleep I get very tense and I don't function well."
"Could you spend part of your lunch hour writing?"
"No, usually a group of us go out and grab some lunch together and I don't want to be out of the loop."
"What about weekends? Could you take a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday or both?"
"That's family time. I don't think my wife or my kids would appreciate it."
"I bet if you told them this is really important to you and you'd like to take a couple of hours for it every weekend they'd understand."
"Maybe, but how much could I really get done in a couple of hours anyway? My ideas are all for novels, it would take forever to write one that way."
By this point it was clear to me that his addiction was to reasons why he can't succeed as a writer. I was not surprised later in the day to overhear him talking to another participant about how you have to have connections to succeed as a writer, the new writer doesn't have a chance, etc.
I'm not suggesting that it's easy to make the time to write when you have a lot of other obligations, nor that it's easy to succeed as a writer. However, this man was determined to prove that it is impossible, which clearly isn't the case. J. K. Rowling and many others have shown that you don't need ideal conditions in order to write.
I'm sure what was at the bottom of this man's myriad excuses was the fear that if he did write something it wouldn't be good enough--whether by his own standards or those of the publishing world or those of readers. In my books and classes I suggest ways to overcome these fears, but he wasn't ready to listen to those. I guess the fear was too great. I hope someday he'll be able to overcome them because I'm sure he does have some good stories to write.
Of course we all feel that way sometimes--at least once in every new project I undertake there comes a time when I think this one will be a disaster and I should stop immediately and start something else. I've been through this often enough to ride out these periods and most of the time it's not a disaster.
If you find yourself blaming the world for the fact that you're not writing, it's time to look closer to home. Be kind to yourself and gently start unpacking the fears that have been stopping you.
If you're not ready to embark on wriitng that big novel, how about starting with a short story? You don't have to show it to anybody when you're done. If fact, you can tear it up if you like, but you will have written it. Then write another one. Without the fear, the process of writing will be a lot more enjoyable. You'll be on the road.
(For friendly guidance on the whole process, from idea through to publication, see my book, "Your Writing Coach." it's published by Nicholas Brealey and availale from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)