Excuses I don’t allow myself to make

This doggy is too tired to write
This doggy is too tired to write – Photo by Dave R Farmer

I don’t like the idea of referring to people as “wannabe” or “aspiring” writers. More especially, I don’t like it when writers fall into any of the self-defeating traps that seem so common among our profession (hobby/compulsion). Writing books is so difficult, it takes many years and hundreds of thousands of words on paper before you can call yourself competent. That’s without the chorus of people telling us we’ll never succeed, that nobody makes money writing books, that writing isn’t a real career. Pah! To quote Scary Perry Dawsey: “You’ve got to have discipline!”

My point is, I can’t sit on my butt playing Skyrim all weekend, then tell myself I’m an “aspiring writer” because I thought about how much I’d like to write a book. No, I make sure that I work on my book as often as I can. It might not be every day (although that is my goal), but I make steady progress because I do not allow myself to make these four excuses (and I’ll even throw in some strategies for overcoming them):

1. Writer’s Block

Uh-uh. No Way. This is one excuse I positively do not allow myself. Writer’s block has become the scapegoat for many authors who don’t finish what they start. My solution: keeping a notebook full of all my story ideas, and some good, old-fashioned discipline. If I’m not feeling inspired to write, I sit in front of my keyboard and make myself write at least a page. I also stop writing in the middle of a sentence so that I can jump right in and hit the ground running the next day.

2. My characters don’t wanna do that

I’m the author, I’m in charge. The characters are my puppets and they dance to my tune. John McHero doesn’t want to scale the thousand foot cliff so that he can slay the dragon with nothing more than a spoon? Too bad. Start climbing. I will not let my characters derail the story I have in my head. To avoid this, I do my character creation work at the very beginning of my planning phase. I make sure that I develop a character who will fit the role I want him to so that I can stay on point.

3. I don’t have the time to write

We all lead busy lives. Kids, jobs, groceries, traffic, pets, Breaking Bad. There are a lot of demands on our time. That’s the way life goes. If you are not prepared to put in the time it takes to learn this craft, you will never be a successful writer. Make time. Send the husband to the shops with the kids, put a padlock on the door and write. If you can write 1000 words a day you’ll have a novel in less than three months. It’s not that hard. I try to write during lunch breaks at work, when I take them. I also write at night once my kids are in bed. Occasionally my husband takes the boys out for a whole day and I can do some serious writing (love you baby!).

4. I’m an Aspiring Writer

Yeah, you knew this one was coming. I am a writer. I write stories, blogs and the user documentation for a software company. Words are what I do, yo. It took me a while to get over the “aspiring” writer hump because it’s a powerful way to hold yourself back. Fear of failure? No problem! You’re only a wannabe anyway. Screw that. I’ve sold stories. I’ve got a book with my name on it and someone else put it there. I’m a writer.

Yoda says "Do or do not. There is no try."

Now, I’m going to publish this little rant and then I’m going to go work on my novel!



4 thoughts on “Excuses I don’t allow myself to make

  1. Gotta love your attitude to making your characters dance to your own tune. Very true about the “start climbing” bit! Many times I’ve watching my characters wander off the track I set for them only to reel them in with a slap and say “No! Bad character, you’re doing it wrong.” Yet there are times when I let them act out just to see where they’re going, and sometimes the result isn’t bad at all. Though if I don’t like it, copy, paste as a note and use it later.

    I also have a serious distaste for “aspiring” writers. You either write or you don’t. Just like Yoda says!

    1. Thank you for your kind words.
      I do give my characters room to grow and express themselves, but I don’t allow them to start messing with the plot. If something doesn’t fit for a character, I go back and look at the character and see if maybe I can tweak him/her to make it flow more realistically.

  2. Very good article. My solution to writer’s block is much like yours. I work on another scene if I get stuck on the one I’m wworking on…or I write some poetry. My characters are an onery lot…and sometimes I let them have their way. 😉

    1. Thank you Michael 🙂
      I find that working on short stories in between productive sessions on my novels really helps me keep the momentum going.

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