How to Stop Making Excuses for Not Writing

You can tackle your excuses to the ground and tell them to back off, but on the outside, they don’t always tell the whole story.

blog0506

You haven’t written anything for awhile. Not anything good, at least. That’s not a good feeling. You WANT to write. But every time you think about it, something stops you.

Rather, YOU stop you. You use an excuse to stay away from your latest writing project, for whatever reason. It might be justifiable, and it might be ever so slightly exaggerated. No matter: you aren’t writing, and you want to be. So here’s how to stop making excuses, so you can get back to writing.

Audit your excuses

We make excuses every day. Every single one of us. We make them so often that we start to become desensitized to them. “I’m tired” becomes our response to almost everything, so much so that we might not even really be all that tired when the words tumble out of our mouths. Start paying attention to the excuses you make when you put off or completely neglect your writing time. Write them down if you have to. After a few days, or a week, however long you think you can stick with it, lay all those excuses out in front of you. Really look at them.

Figure out the most prominent reasons why you aren’t writing. Are you feeling low on energy? Too overwhelmed because of time crunches? Have you (seemingly) lost interest in what you’re writing? Once you’ve pinpointed those, the next step is to create counter-arguments for yourself.

Come up with antidotes

Every excuse you make should come with an opposing thought or action. You’re tired. So, so tired. All you want to do is watch Netflix when you get home. Yet your writing project is sitting there, silently begging you to pay attention to it, even for 15 short minutes. How do you transform “I’m tired” into “I’m tired, but I’m going to keep writing?”

It’s simple, really: you just have to start. Because starting is the hardest part, especially when you’re tired. Here’s what you can do: before you leave in the morning, open whatever program houses your work. Open that document and just let it sit there, waiting. When you get home, and log back onto your computer, boom. There it is. Already open and ready for you to go. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually write anything, but it’s there. It’s one less barrier you have to climb over. Just type out a few words. A few sentences. A few paragraphs. You might get sucked in, and realize … you’re not really as tired as you thought. :)

Acknowledge the underlying issues

You can tackle your excuses to the ground and tell them to back off and stay away, but on the outside, they don’t always tell the whole story. Issuing a restraining order against your excuses doesn’t erase the fact that something is keeping you from getting your work done. On the outside, you might be tired. You might feel like you don’t have enough time. You might feel bored. But is that all?

It doesn’t have to be something serious. Maybe you just need to take some guilt-free time off, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Maybe you need to put up some site blocks on your browser for awhile, to keep you focused. Maybe you need to put your current project aside for a little while so you can put some energy into a different project. It’s not abandonment: it’s making different use of the energy you didn’t think you had. If it means enough to you, you’ll find your way back to it later.

So what’s your excuse? What’s keeping you staring at a blank page? And what are you going to do about it today?

Image courtesy of The Odyssey Online.

Here’s Proof That Life Gets In the Way but Excuses Mean Nothing

I knew going into Camp NaNoWriMo this year that April was going to be tough.

blog04302

I knew going into Camp NaNoWriMo this year that April was going to be tough. Probably one of the toughest months I’ve had since college (which, now that I think about it, is further in the past than I thought. Yikes.). I was in one of the toughest courses throughout my graduate program (at least, that’s what it felt like to me). I had boatloads of work. Too much anxiety, never enough time.

Yet despite all that, I somehow managed to win Camp NaNoWriMo (again). The thing I like about Camp NaNo is it’s not like saying, “OH LOOK AT ME! I wrote a crappy 50,000-word novel in 30 days!!” I love NaNoWriMo, I really do. But it’s much more realistic for someone to write, say, 10,000 or 20,000 words in 30 days than it is to write 50,000. And it makes saying you did it sound a little less … uh … braggy.

I’m really proud of myself this year. Not because of the story I wrote (which is probably one of my favorites so far this year), but because of all the obstacles I overcame to make it happen.

Take a look at how this month went down for me. (As you can probably guess, I am exhausted, and after I run 13.1 miles on Sunday, I am officially sleeping for four days.)

blog04301

Along the way, I had four “drought” periods, in which writing was minimal or non-existent.

  1. At the very beginning of the month, I think I was still burned out from finishing March’s novella late. I’m really not sure. I wrote about 200 words and then pretty much didn’t write again for another week.
  2. Midterms happened. I have major test anxiety. So pretty much that whole week, writing was minimal. It took everything out of me just to get my “real” work done.
  3. This was not a good streak either. I wasn’t feeling well, I let distractions get the best of me and procrastinated way too hard on way too many assignments. I admit it: I didn’t try as hard as I could have. That really set me back, and at this point I started to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to make it through the rest in time.
  4. Finals week. I meant to build in a buffer for this, because I knew it was going to be rough. Obviously that didn’t happen. So I had to really scramble these last few days, but I got through it.

A few really great things came out of this month’s experience, besides finishing another novella (which will be released TODAY – almost didn’t make that deadline, but I will!). I’ve started blocking myself off from even touching YouTube until the weekend starts. I’ve learned better ways to manage my time, when I’m most productive and even more about what triggers my procrastination. It’s amazing, the things we can learn about ourselves when we struggle super hard.

But the most important reminder I, and all of you, can take away from this? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN EXCUSE. If you want something badly enough, you’re going to find a way to make it work. You’re going to make the right kinds of sacrifices.

The best advice I have for those who want to start, continue or finish writing any kind of story is to stop making excuses. Seriously. Life is always going to get in your way. You have to figure out how to work around it. You can either keep putting things off or give up when it gets tough, or you can sit down and get some writing done. It’s not as complicated as you think it is. Promise.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Camp NaNoWriMo.