Writers the world over have one thing in common: procrastination.
As much as we dream of writing success, we are gold-medal winners at shooting ourselves in our writing implements. How? By putting off what we keep saying we want to do, and by coming up with some of the worst excuses in the world. Here are three of the best of the worst – and yes, I have used ALL of them at some time or the other.
Lame excuse #1 – I’m not feeling the muse
Also known as ‘I can only write when I’m in the mood’, or ‘I can only write when inspiration seizes me.’ Those words roll glibly off our tongues and who can argue? The muse does not sit visibly on our shoulders. There isn’t a temperature gauge that says ‘inspiration rising’.
But the excuse simply won’t wash. We can write when we’re not inspired. Maybe it won’t be great writing but the fab thing about writing is it doesn’t have to be right the first time. That’s what the writing process is for, to get it right.
Next time you put off writing because you’re not in the mood, take a deep breath and write anyway. Write yourself through the blahs or boredom or whatever’s really holding you back, and write into inspiration.
Here’s a secret. There isn’t a muse. There is only you.
Here is some motivation from Stephen King: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”
Lame excuse #2 – I don’t have time
Also known as ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘after I’ve cleaned the car/done the shopping, played solitaire, watched that film on HBO…’ The truth is, we’ve all got 24 hours in a day. Even those of us juggling work and family can’t honestly put hands on heart and say ‘I have no time for writing’.
We do, you know. If it really mattered we’d get up an hour earlier – or stay up an hour later and dedicate that time to writing. We’d drop something else we did regularly, or forgo the party at Fred’s or ignore the lawns growing up to the gutters. We’d take notebooks with us and snatch five-minute opportunities to capture ideas or sketch out scenes. We’d just write, whenever we could.
Here’s a secret. We’ve only got one life to live. Will you look back and be glad you spent three hours every night watching telly or playing Candy Crush, or would you rather look back and see the thousands of words you have personally created for your own satisfaction and the world’s enjoyment?
Here is some motivation from J K Rowling: “Be ruthless about protecting writing days. Do not cave in to endless requests for ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.” (Replace ‘meetings’ with what’s relevant to you.)
Lame excuse #3 – I’ve got writer’s block
Also known as ‘a catch-all excuse for every other reason you don’t get around to writing’ and ‘creative inhibition’.
Don’t give in to this one. Instead, identify what’s really the problem and deal with that:
- If you lack confidence – choose to believe in yourself
- If you lack knowledge – learn what you need to learn
- If you’re unsure of what you want to write – explore. Play, write all kinds of things until you discover what works for you
- If you are afraid of failing – get over it. You will fail, we all do, and guess what? The world won’t end
- If you are a perfectionist – accept that you won’t have everything perfectly planned and organised before you write; accept that each word that flows from your pen or keyboard doesn’t have to be just right the first time it appears. Be nice to yourself.
Use proven techniques to leap the barriers. Go for a walk, brainstorm with writing buddies, set yourself a writing schedule, write to a competition deadline, whatever works for you.
Here’s a secret. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for leaping barriers and creating motivation. There is only you, and your dreams and determination to get the job done.
Here is some motivation from Jim Rohn: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”