Excuses are one of the top reasons writers never get published or even finish writing their book. So to give you the best chance at success, here is a list of the most common excuses you might give for why you can’t write today. And then I’ll tell you otherwise by squashing that excuse!
I’ll Never Get Published
You definitely won’t ever get published if you never finish what you’re writing! And who says you can’t get published? Considering people are still signing author contracts and producing new literature, getting published isn’t impossible. True, publishers are taking fewer risks these days on unpublished writers. But that should only make you push harder to improve your writing and build your name as a writer. And if you can’t get a big house publisher to take you on, you can always choose the self-publishing route, which is proving beneficial to many. If your goal is to just have your book printed and have people read it, it shouldn’t matter how you get there.
I’m Too Tired
This was always the excuse I gave myself when I had too much homework (or any, really) in school. When you know you are supposed to be doing something productive, sleeping becomes ridiculously attractive. You have to differentiate between true exhaustion and mere procrastination. Here’s a test: imagine the alternative to writing is to do something you really love, whether that’s going out with a friend or going shopping. If you wouldn’t even do your favorite thing, then maybe a nap is a good idea. But if you would have the energy, stop thinking of writing as a burden. Once you get going, you’ll remember why you love writing in the first place and won’t want to stop! That is, until you really do become exhausted.
Fiction is Pointless
Probably every fiction writer ponders this idea at least once in their careers. What is the point of fiction? After all, it isn’t real. So how can my made up story add any value to the world? To banish this awful excuse to give up on writing, think of all your favorite fiction books and how they impacted some part of your life. Most of us can probably say we’ve made some decision in our lives based on the book we were reading at the time. Reality is, fiction does add value to people’s lives. Fiction shapes people into who they become and how they respond to the world. Fiction makes people think, because even in the midst of fiction, there is always truth. And it is in those bits of truth, like courage or honesty or even great quotes by Gandalf, that connects with people on a higher level than a mere made up story. If done right, fiction has the potential to stir people’s thoughts, teach them a lesson, or get them thinking about life while reflecting on their own character. So next time you feel inspired by a story or learn a lesson from a character, remember fiction is not a waste of time and never use that excuse again.
People Will Judge Me
Sometimes we as writers have the belief that readers who know us will think our stories are about our lives or reflect who we are. In some ways, they would be right. In fact, it would be hard to write a story without putting a small piece of ourselves into it. But just because you write a murder story doesn’t mean you’ve ever killed someone or even thought about it. You can’t let yourself be afraid of what people think and just tell a good story, regardless of what your friends will assume about you. Because everyone who doesn’t know you will just be impressed by your story. Not caring about what others think of you is just part of being a writer. That’s the only way you are going to survive this journey, even after you become successful. So ignore those thoughts that pop into your head when you write an amazing scene and think, what would my mother think? Odds are, she’ll just think you’re an amazing writer!
I’ll Never Be as Good as Other Writers
I have to admit, I make this excuse often, especially after reading masterpieces like Austen or Fitzgerald. It’s easy to feel intimidated after reading a well-written book or even after watching a beautifully crafted movie or TV show. But not everyone can be Shakespeare! The key is to be inspired by that brilliance rather than feel threatened or intimidated by it. Maybe you won’t become as great of a writer as you’d wish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Not everyone can be the best writer. But you can be the best you. Keep learning and improving, until you can be proud you’ve created your best.
Remember, it’s a block, not a wall. Whether you choose to go around it or push through it, writer’s block shouldn’t stop you forever. It could just be one scene that is giving you trouble. Like so many of my teachers told me before a test: don’t spend too much time on any one problem; do what you can now and go back to the hard ones later if you have time. Of course, with writing, you have all the time in the world to go back and finish that one “problem” you’re struggling with. Plus, once you have the rest of the story written, you’ll likely be able to find exactly the scene you need to plug into that blank spot of your book.
There Isn’t Enough Time
Finding time to do what we want in life is always hard, but if you work hard, you can usually find at least a small block of time. Even if finding time means cutting some sleep, if it’s important to you, the sacrifice will be worth it. Plenty of writers out there juggle full-time jobs AND writing. So maybe you can’t write a book in a month like a full-time writer could, but you can write one in 3 or 4 months if you put your mind to it. You just have to make a plan. Figure out exactly how much time you can spare each day and make sure you use it for writing and writing only. You can read more about accomplishing your writing goals in my previous post How to Accomplish Your Writing Goals in 5 Easy Steps, which will guide you on how to make time for writing.
I Can Write Later
Nothing says procrastination like the word “later.” When exactly is later? “Later” could mean anything. It could be tonight or it could be next month. Eventually, “later” could even come to mean “never.” If you plan on ever making progress with your book, your “soons” and “laters” need to mean “within the hour.”
I’m Not a Writer
If you tell yourself you’re not a writer, you’re going to start believing yourself and never have the confidence you need to write well. You don’t have to be an acknowledged writer to be able to write. This excuse reminds me of the scene in Mr. Peabody when Sherman is flying a plane. He flies so well until Mr. Peabody yells up at him, “You don’t know how to fly a plane!” Then suddenly Sherman loses control of the plane and crashes it, not because he didn’t know how to fly but because Mr. Peabody told him he didn’t know how. Believing in yourself is an important aspect of success. You just have to tell yourself you know what you are doing and not let your doubts make you crash or fail.
It’s Too Beautiful Outside
Too beautiful, too rainy––the weather is just one of many distractions writers use an excuse not to write. If the weather really is beautiful, go outside and write! Don’t let a dying computer battery stop you either. A good pen and notebook work just fine out in nature! Besides, you may find that the outdoors inspires you to write better than your room would have.
I’m In the Middle of a Really Good Book!
Most writers love to read, which means sometimes it’s really hard to put down someone else’s story to go write our own. It’s okay to read to get inspired and keep your imagination thinking while you aren’t writing, but it shouldn’t replace your writing time. If you struggle with this, set some scheduled time for reading and writing separately. If you have to, make reading come second, so you aren’t tempted to read past your scheduled time due to a good chapter.
Most of the excuses we as writers come up with don’t have solid enough ground to merit keeping us from writing. There are some actual things that may keep you from writing, but if you are determined enough, you may be able to push past even those.
If there are any writing excuses I haven’t mentioned that keep you from writing (I only mentioned 11 of hundreds), feel free to comment yours below!