Last week I featured author Una LaMarche as part of the #MyWritingProcess blog tour. Now it’s my turn. But be forewarned: my process is not a series of creative steps I follow to finish a project. Rather, my process involves karate-chopping excuses not to write on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.
Here are five of the most common excuses not to write and how I tackle them. Hopefully these tips will help some of you kick their asses, too.
- “I’m not inspired.” Here’s a secret: no one feels inspired all the time. Writing is a job that needs to be worked at steadily until it’s done. Would a carpenter say, “You know, I don’t think I’m gonna finish installing these cabinets today because I’m not feeling inspired”? Bullshit. Writing is your craft. And if you ever want it to be anything more than a hobby, you have to put in your hours and keep punching in until the work is done. And, yes, I just compared it to cabinet making. It’s probably easier than cabinet making, so stop whining and write.
- “I have young kids.” Get up before your kids do and write for half an hour while the house is still quiet. Need to cart them around to activities? Bring your laptop or a pad of paper with you everywhere. Bang out a hundred words in your car while you’re waiting for junior to finish soccer practice or piano lessons. Another excuse related to this one is, “I’m taking care of an elderly family member.” A similar logic applies. Taking grandma to the doctor? Type while you’re in the waiting room.
- “I have a demanding day job.” There are a few different approaches I suggest for tackling this one, none of which involve quitting the day job altogether. I do not advise quitting a day job to write unless you have a very solid plan in mind about how you will support yourself. A less extreme measure would be to look for a different day job–one that doesn’t suck the life out of you physically and mentally. But even this approach seems drastic to me. I’m risk averse and I like paychecks. A baby step is to write over your lunch hour a few times a week. You’d be surprised how quickly your word count can climb if you bring your laptop to Panera or Au Bon Pain or wherever it is you like to eat.
- “I wrote something else once and it got rejected by an agent/editor/publisher.” Congratulations! You are now officially a writer. But if you allow one–or sixty–rejections to wound your pride and confidence so much that you’re ready to throw in the towel, then you’ll probably never be a published writer. Putting yourself out there means being rejected sometimes or getting a bad review now and then. Let the rejections fuel you to do better and prove those people who rejected you wrong.
- “Mad Men is on.” Okay, you can watch Mad Men. But only because it’s the last season.