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Excuses, Excuses

April 27, 2010

I read yesterday’s post, by Jodi, several times. She and Annie have a knack for writing these excellent lists of things we should or shouldn’t do—and I’ve always envied them for their forethought when it comes to their posts on this blog. But in a first for me, I think there’s something I can add to Jodi’s list—not really something she missed, as much as another way to look at it.

What am I talking about? Excuses.

To make writing a priority in your life you have to get a handle on excuses and reasons. We all have reasons why we can’t write. And we all have excuses. What’s the difference?

A reason is something fundamental, something important, that will inevitably get in the way of your writing. Your day job. Needing to spend time with your kids. Family dinners and holidays. These are reasons. These are things that are either important or necessary. If you don’t these things writing becomes immaterial.

An excuse is hollow. It’s something you pretend is a reason. The house needs cleaning. I’m tired. It’s noisy. No one will leave me alone for 5 minutes. I’m hungry. There are literally hundreds of excuses in our daily life for why we can’t do what we want to do. And as writers we’re probably able to come up with thousands. But excuses aren’t real hurdles. They are obstacles that we put in our own way. If you can’t clean with a dirty house, then clean the house the day before your writing day. If the kids are noisy, then find a spot away from the kids or even away from the house where you can concentrate.

We have very little control over reasons. But with careful planning—and properly setting priorities—we can rein in the effect that excuses have on our writing time.

What excuse do you find yourself using over and over?
  1. April 27, 2010 1:07 am

    My favourite excuse in the past was I didn’t have the right technology.

    After high school and literally a thousand hours of handwriting stories and two novels – I became enamoured with computers. When I left home and didn ‘t have a computer to take with me, I consistently used the lack of a computer as an excuse not to write.

    Then I got a computer and used the fact it wasn’t a laptop and portable as an excuse to write.

    I would be easy now to fall into the same trap – I need a smaller computer. I need a computer with a longer battery life. I need a Mac. I need Scrivener.

    What I realised was – they were all, as you point out, hollow and I stopped doing it – perhaps why it didn’t figure (as it should have) on my list.

    I do understand where this quest for technology began . My parents invested, physically, in my creativity – paints, an easel, a typewriter, a piano so I got to think you need the hardware – the proper hardware – to be able to create. What I have since learnt is you also need lots of encouragement, guidance and hardwork.

    Now I used the fall back excuse of the need for sleep. Really – who needs sleep?

    PS: and thanks for the compliment Dale – I know Annie will also be stoked to see it.

  2. April 27, 2010 2:03 am

    same here!! u used to have this excuse and i still use it as my reasonnnnnn……….excuse!!!

  3. April 27, 2010 8:18 am

    *Awwww Shucks*……thanks for the compliment.

    I have plenty of excuses and now I am working in a (paid) job rather than working 24/7 as a mum I have more ammunition. … who has time to write when you work all day , then have to come home to kids???? etc etc…. However it comes back to whats important in your life? If you took away writing – does that fill or empty a need?

    I too am coming back to the cornerstones of writing and rethinking priorities. As with everything – the foundations are vital to ensure longevity of any project, relationship.. whatever…

    I’ve come to accept that writing IS part of my life… so am now on the journey to deal with that and to balance my priorities…

  4. adampb permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:04 am

    I think one of the excuses that a novice writer like myself uses is that of thinking, “I’m not good enough so why try,” or “I’ll never be good enough.” It stems from a misguided perception that greatness is bestowed at birth and pours out onto the page like water, perfectly formed and written. Great writing does take talent, but it also takes perseverance and a willingness to learn and perfect the craft.

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