My brain’s too foggy. The kids stressed me out. I don’t feel good. I’m too tired. My to-do list is calling. I only have a few minutes. The house is a mess. I need coffee. I’ve had way too much coffee. It’s better for me to write in the morning. I have no good ideas. I’m not good at writing. It’s too loud in my house. The kids will be up soon, anyways. I don’t know what to write. My desk is cluttered.
Do any of these sound familiar? Am I reading your mind? Are these types of thoughts keeping you from writing?
I could list 100 or more of these thoughts.
I come up with new ones every single day (if only I were so creative in my writing!). I have not written anything for about two weeks and this perpetual way of thinking really flatlines my writing efforts.
Most of the time, I feel like I am just waiting for the perfect conditions for writing. And as you would expect, those magical conditions never happen.
It’s like I am putting off getting what I need to done until the sun and the moon and the stars align just so.
Then, and only then, I believe I will be able to sit and write with no worries and the words will just flow effortlessly out of my brain and into my fingers as they tap delightfully on my keyboard. And nothing will distract me from my incredible focus because my brain is fresh and clear and I’ve had just the right amount of caffeine to keep me going until every last thought has been captured in the most eloquent way possible.
And yet, even the cosmic rarity of the sun and the moon meeting in a total solar eclipse was not enough to get me to write. Not even one word.
The truth is, the conditions will never be perfect.
I mean, they might have been if I had chosen to be single. And if I had been independently wealthy. And maybe if I lived in some beautiful remote location, with not a care in the world and even a personal chef to boot!
But I’m not and I don’t. Sigh.
I have 3, soon to be 4, kids and a husband who runs his business from home.
My house is loud and disorganized. I don’t even have a desk. Well, actually I do, but I had the brilliant idea to set up my writing station in the kids’ playroom. As if I would have been able to work while the munchkins screamed and played and climbed all over me. Now the desk is so deeply buried that I couldn’t even sit there if I wanted to.
Talk about imperfect conditions!
So, now I’ve come face to face to with reality. All my “perfect condition” requirements are just fantasies that are preventing me from getting into the nitty gritty. The hard aspects of writing. The sitting down and actually doing it, without the reasons and excuses that I allow to hold me back.
The hard part
Writing is an exercise that must be strengthened with practice. Is it hard to sit down at the computer and write while the kids are playing (or screaming or fighting or worse)? Yes.
Is it frustrating to be interrupted just when you’ve gotten to a really good stage of the writing process? Yes.
But, if you don’t work at it, you will continue to get the same results. Day after day of blank pages.
How can you get past the excuses and learn to write no matter the weather? Try these three tips.
1. Recognize the BS thinking
Learn to catch the habitual thoughts in action and recognize them for the excuses that they are. Just doing this removes their power.
Take “The house is a mess” for example. Is it really true that you can’t write until the house is clean? Or, perhaps, you can recognize that the urge to tidy up might be because it is easier to do that than write, and set a goal to pick up the house after you’ve accomplished a writing goal.
2. Stop taking your own temperature
Letting your mood dictate whether it is a good time to write is a quick way to end up not writing. It’s time to stop being so concerned with whether you feel “right” enough to write.
Instead, put pen to the paper, no matter what you are thinking or feeling.
3. Treat writing like the job that it is
Writing is hard work, especially when you don’t have a formal job structure to keep you on target. Setting strict deadlines and blocking out dedicated times to write can really help get you past the excuses.
And with that, you can get back on track. A writing schedule keeps me committed regardless of how I am thinking or feeling about the task at hand. My silver spoon fantasies still linger but I know what happens when I heed them. Nothing. Nothing at all.
What is your most creative (or ridiculous) excuse not to write? Or, if you’ve conquered your own excuses, share your successful strategy to help other writers.