We’re all perpetrators. We find reasons not to do the things we really should be doing…going out with friends, cleaning out the garage, learning to cook that meal we always told ourselves we wanted to learn.
It’s amazing the things we can talk ourselves out of. “I’ll do it tomorrow.” “I’m just not in the mood.” “There’s that other ‘thing’ I want to do first.”
We can be especially good at this when it comes to writing. “I need to mental be in the right frame of mind.” “I only have an hour or two to write, so it’s not even worth it.” “I’ve got writer’s block.”
I’m here to tell you, if you want to write books, those are all just excuse. Sure, there are going to be days you just can’t write because life gets in the way. But if you’re making excuses, it’s not life getting in your way, it’s you.
I knew when I was in fifth grade that I wanted to be a novelist. I didn’t know all the parameters of being one at the time – the work I would have to put in, the amount of time it would actually take to write a full book – but I knew I wanted to write stories. The dream obviously stayed with me, and I wrote a lot over the following years. What might be surprising is that I didn’t complete a full novel until just after I was thirty-two. Why? Because there were years I didn’t really put the effort in. I was busy living (something all novelists need to do in some way or another), and was not serious about being a novelist. Even when I finished that book, I wasn’t ready.
For seven years after that, I wrote very little. Then, when I turned thirty-nine I told myself if I really wanted to fulfill the dream of that ten year old me, I needed to buckle down and do it.
The biggest obstacle was finding time to write. I had a fulltime job, after all, and that pretty much ate up most of the day. But if I just gave up because of that, it would be because I was making excuses again, something I had done for years. So I had to find a way to work writing into my day, or just admit I was giving up.
My solution? I adjusted my habits and got up early, allocating two hours every morning to write before I went work. I also decided any time I had free time in the evenings or the weekends, I’d write. That’s how I wrote two novels that I haven’t published, and also three that I have. THE CLEANER was written this way.
I could have easily said it’s not worth it after one of the unpublished novels failed to sell, and given up. But I kept going. A) because I was still holding tight to the dream, and B) well…because I’m a writer, and writers write.
Sleeping would have been great. I could have stayed up later, done things with friends, had a life. But I was (and still am) a writer. And that meant, as I’ve already said, I had to write. Still, just because I did didn’t guarantee I’d achieve the goal of being published, but I definitely wouldn’t achieve it if I didn’t write anything.
If I may repeat myself, if I was going to be a writer, I had to write. This could apply to anything. If I was going to be a ball player, I would have to practice. If I was going to be a scientist, I would have to study. If I was going to be a professional photographer, I would have to take photographs…a whole hell of a lot of them.
Now maybe you might not be able to get up early, or even carve out a couple hours somewhere else in your day, but you can find an hour, or a half-hour or even fifteen-minutes…somewhere in your life is a block of time you can set aside. But setting aside the time is just the start. You need to use it, too. No excuses.
Excuses will get you a free afternoon. Working on what you love could get you a lifetime of satisfaction.
Here’s something you should check out. An example of improvising, and not letting obstacles get in your way. I love this!
So what excuses do you give yourself? How do you move beyond them?