Do you know the top 10 excuses for not writing that book? I’m thrilled to have writer (and fellow Madelyn Burt/Stonesong Agency author) Kristin Owens guest post on my blog this week to answer the question.
Want to read about the ups and downs of a writing career? Read my post by clicking the link here.
Kristin Owens earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and held academic positions at Penn State, University of Maryland, University of Alaska Anchorage and Mat-Su College. She also taught a variety of subjects (from ballroom dancing to graduate statistics) and was awarded 2016-17 Teacher of the Year by Aims Community College students.
Now a full-time writer in Colorado, Kristin has over 70 articles and essays published. Her first fiction manuscript, ELIZABETH SAILS, was selected as a Judges’ Favorite in the 2017 Ink & Insights contest. Her essay, WAR BRIDE, won Honorable Mention for the 2018 New Millennium Writing Awards and was a finalist for the 2019 New Letters’ Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction.
To learn more about Kristin, click on her name or photo or any of the following links: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
The Top 10 Reasons Why You Don’t Write That Book – Solved.
By Kristin Owens
Here’s a common problem for new writers: we want to write a book but can’t get started. Lucky for us, since its establishment in 1999, NaNoWriMo encourages and supports folks to bang out 50,000 words – a healthy novel draft during the month of November.
Why does this organization go to such lengths? Simple. There are soooo many excuses not to write, it requires a national program to push us while we think of even more reasons why we can’t. I teach classes on getting NaNoWriMo-ready and I’ve heard every excuse from my students. And I always disagree. Simply put: if you want to achieve a goal, get to it. And this includes writing.
Excuse #1: I don’t have the time.
If I had a dime… Honestly, who has enough time? No one. It’s all about priorities. If a sparkly clean house and homemade gourmet dinners supersede your writing goals, kiss those pages goodbye. However, if writing a book is on your bucket list, you need to carve out time to put words on the page.
The book won’t write itself, no matter how much you WANT it to. It’s the difference between wishing and doing, and sometimes that’s a wide chasm. I have writer friends who have their butts in the chair at 4:30 am. Every morning. Writing is that important to them. However, I wouldn’t recommend visiting unannounced. They need time to clean up a little.
What are your excuses for not writing?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Excuse #2: I’m too busy.
Excuse #3: I don’t have a dedicated writing space.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a dedicated office with a door. And the kitchen table or couch won’t cut it. Find a nice quiet space preferably out of the house and away from your needy family. Try the library. It’s hard not to be inspired while surrounded by books.
Ahhh… books! Coffee shops are a tad overrated (and can be noisy), but in a pinch just plop down your laptop, turn off your phone and internet access, and commit to writing… not ordering a third Latté.
Excuse #4: I’m not motivated.
Tell me about it. There are days when I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a pasta server than write. It’s all about managing. Sometimes lofty goals get in the way of practical. Instead of focusing on writing a New York Times best seller, how about getting 1,000 coherent words on the page?
For example, I had a student who wanted to write a memoir for THIRTY years. I suggested if she didn’t have a first draft written by the end of the year, it wasn’t important to her. Because if it was REALLY important, she would’ve done it by now. Try lowering the bar and get some momentum going.
“How do you finish a book, Elena?” Elena says, “One page at a time!”
Excuse #5: I don’t know where to start.
At the beginning. Come up with a character, a time period, and location. What’s happens next? And then? And then what? Tell me a story. You have plenty of ideas hibernating, just pick one. Begin the process of committing them to paper. Surprise! Words make sentences, which add up to paragraphs, resulting in pages. And those pages will add up once you give yourself permission to fly.
Excuse #6: I don’t have any support.
Poppycocky. The NaNoWriMo website is bursting with helpful pep talks and resources to help. Sign up prior to November 1, enter daily word counts, and connect with local writers. You may even get a prize!
But on the flip side, don’t expect your family or friends to celebrate your unexplained absences scribbling. Explain to these lovely people how much this means to you. How you support them in their endeavors. And remind them to feed the dog.
Excuse #7: I don’t have an English degree.
Now you’re just being silly. My degree is in German and I highly doubt there will ever be a tome auf Deutsch with my name on it. Local writing classes, writing organizations, conferences, and critique groups are available –find these magical groups who will support you on your convoluted literary journey.
Make writer friends to kvetch with and share a bottle of wine. Take online classes. Read. And learn from your mistakes.
Excuse # 8: I’m not good enough.
You’re probably right. You’re not good enough… YET. I believe this is the biggest hurdle writers have to overcome. No one starts off as an excellent writer, it’s a skill which needs honing.
Over years. First drafts don’t have any magic: they’re ugly babies without sparkling personalities to compensate. But keep polishing and tweaking and all of a sudden, something lovely happens: sentences make sense, characters have distinctive voices, and oh, there’s… a… plot!
You get better with each and every draft. I promise.
Excuse #9: Why bother?
Yes, there are about seven stories in the entire literary world and they’ve all been written. Except not by you. Why NOT you? You have a distinctive voice and perception like no one else.
Extraterrestrial monkeys riding unicycles to Pluto? Invisible fairies stealing socks from the laundry to fuel their ethereal world? Cowgirls kissing? The world wants to read what’s in your head.
Who knows, they may even plunk down $15.99 for it in the future. Confidence takes years to acquire, so start now. Be brave. Be you. Because if not you, who?
No More Excuses for Not Writing!
Excuse #10: I’m not a writer.
Well, this one is easy to fix. Go to Vistaprint.com and for $9.99 order some fancy biz cards with “writer” on them. Bingo! You’re a writer. This is one of those professions which has no criteria attached to it, no required coursework or college degrees.
There are no penalties for failure, only your own disappointment. Can you live with that? If not, get to it. Now about finishing that book? That’s another blog post.
I’ve heard every one one of these excuses for not writing!
I even use some of them myself when I get overwhelmed. Great responses for every writer to think about, no matter where they are in their career.
Thank you for joining us and sharing your words of wisdom.
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