12 Most Unacceptable Reasons Writers Aren’t Writing Right Now
Are you limiting yourself with these lame — but all-too-common — excuses for doing anything but sitting down to write? None of these are good reasons, but they may be holding you back.
Recognize them in yourself, and take my tips to overcome them and be the best writer you can be — right now.
1. I’m too busy
The myth: Let’s get the worst of them out of the way up front. You have too many other obligations to ever fit writing time into your hectic life. Writing is a behemoth commitment and you have to wait until you have a little more free time to get to it.
The truth: No one is too busy to write! Are you too busy to go to work, pick your kids up from school, cook dinner, wash the dishes, or watch your favorite TV shows? “Too busy” for anything is a myth. Choose your priorities and use your time as you want to, period. The other bust to that myth is writing doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You can make progress and achieve successes by allotting tiny amounts — as little as 10 minutes a day — to writing.
2. I have to focus on my day job
The myth: You read that bit above about prioritizing your time and indignantly thought, “Maybe that’s fine for you, but I’ve got bills to pay, lady!” You have to make your day job a priority because, “bills! kids! mortgage!” And you can’t fit writing into your life until you can lose the day job.
The truth: Unless you have a great safety net (i.e. a partner to pay the bills or a huge cache of savings), you’re going to have to write on the side of whatever pays the bills for a while. Additionally, if you want to cut down those work hours to make more time for writing, you can always lower your standard of living and reduce some of those pesky bills.
3. I’m too tired
The myth: Work, family, extracurriculars, housework, and stress are just plain wearing you out. You can’t possibly write a word tonight; you’re ready to collapse into bed.
The truth: With a little prioritizing and time management, you can fit writing in when you’re best equipped to do it — and remember, you only need to squeeze in 10 or 15 minutes to make steady progress! If you’re most energized in the morning, get up ten minutes early to write before work. If you’re most energized after a good workout, go for a run after work and write when you’re finished.
4. I’m responsible for my kids, spouse, parents, and housekeeping
The myth: Your obligations to your family life supercede your own passion for writing. You have to work to support them, which keeps you from writing full time. You love them and want to spend time with them, so how can you disappear every evening to work on your novel?
The truth: Your closest loved ones should be your biggest supporters. If your partner can’t accept writing as a priority in your life, this may not be the best partner for you. Let your family help you balance your time by explaining to them how much time you’d like to spend writing and asking when they absolutely need you to be available the most.
5. I have writer’s block
The myth: You can’t write if you’re not inspired. What’s the point in forcing yourself to sit down to hammer out 1,500 words if they’re nothing but uninspired drivel?
The truth: So-called writer’s block is nothing but a lack of a reason to write. Did you have writer’s block when you were twelve hours away from your English 101 essay being due? Or did you just write that damn essay? If you suffer frequently from “writer’s block,” start giving yourself assignments and find some accountability: Start a blog, write guest posts, join a writing group, follow writing prompts, etc.
6. My computer crashed
The myth: Those technical issues are wasting all of your time! You lost the entire draft you wrote yesterday when Word crashed; you can’t post to your blog today because WordPress is down, etc.
The truth: You don’t need a computer to write and you should never rely on one technology to keep you writing. If your computer crashes, free write in your journal for the day. If you write in one word processor, remember to back it up frequently in one or two other places — a flash drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. — so you can keep working no matter what.
7. I’m afraid to start
The myth: Maybe you don’t say this one out loud, but your paralyzing fear certainly keeps you from making the kind of progress you could be making in your writing career.
The truth: Everyone is afraid to start! Well, actually, we’re all afraid to fail, which keeps us from trying. The best way over this hurdle is to just try a few things and let yourself fail — face it; you will. But once you fail a few times — your first blog post gets only a handful of readers, your tweet gets no love, your newsletter has an abysmal open rate — you learn that it doesn’t hurt as badly as you expected, and it’s easier to just try the next thing.
8. I don’t have any readers
The myth: You’re not writing because no one is around to read it. You have a full-time job and a busy side-hustle, and those brilliant words just aren’t worth the time you have to pour into them if no one is going to read them.
The truth: Fair point. But, guess what? You’re not going to get readers without writing. That’s a painful, annoying, rock-and-a-hard-place type of bottom line. Start your commitment to writing slowly; don’t overcommit and waste your time. Try posting to your blog once a month, sending a quarterly newsletter, or publishing three short stories this year. Then promote the bejesus out of them! Create something wonderful to attract readers.
9. I’m no good at grammar or proper story structure
The myth: You can’t form a proper sentence to save your life and your comma misplacement is enough to drive editors over the edge. You plan to study the bascs of English grammar, then get back to writing — you just haven’t found the time to study yet.
The truth: Language is a skill you have to develop like any other. Devote small amounts of time each day to studying the basics and you’ll begin to see progress. Even better, find an editor willing to work with you and your sanity-stretching faux pas, who will recognize your common errors and teach you how to fix them.
10. I failed last time I tried this
The myth: The last time you published a novel, it received horrible reviews. The last twelve pitches you’ve sent were met with silence. Why keep trying? You’re obviously just not good enough.
The truth: Everyone fails — a lot. Successful people fail more than anyone else, because they try the most. Accept feedback (even silence can be feedback), learn from your missteps and try again. You have a passion for writing and a few setbacks shouldn’t dissuade you.
11. I’m too stressed or depressed
The myth: Everything in your life is caving in and weighing on your shoulders, and you can barely keep your head above water. You can’t possibly write in this state; your mind simply can’t muster anything of quality.
The truth: Everyone feels down or out of sorts sometimes — artists probably more than most. If you take writing seriously, you can’t let your emotional state get in the way of it. Build mind-clearing activities into your daily routine and train yourself to approach your writing desk diligently and with a calm mind.
12. No one supports me
The myth: Your parents expect you to be a doctor. Your wife expects you to repair the leaky faucet this weekend. No one in your life understands why you would want to spend time writing, so they certainly don’t make an effort to facilitate it.
The truth: Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and explain to your loved ones what the hell this writing dream is all about. Most people, if you approach them honestly and respectfully about it, will want to support you in whatever makes you happy. If they don’t, bite the bullet harder (is that a thing?), and get those people out of your life!
Like any serious career path, fitting writing into your life will come with challenges and sacrifices. At each turn, you’re going to have tough choices to make. In the end, if you’re not writing, you’re not a writer — which choice will you make?
Featured image courtesy of familymwr licensed via Creative Commons.