I am a queen at putting off until tomorrow what could be done today – especially when it comes to writing. It always seems innocent enough: I sit down to write when, oh! I forgot to put the laundry away in my daughter’s room. An hour later, I sit down at the laptop again when, oh! look at that – I have 3 new followers on Twitter. It would just be rude not to respond and reciprocate, and I since certainly don’t want to be rude … Well, you get the picture.
So rather than deny or attempt to deflect these incessant distractions, I thought that I would take a moment and identify my excuses for what they are. What’s the old saying? “Recognizing you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it”? Well, here is my attempt to combat my distraction addiction.
Megan’s top 5 reasons NOT to write:
1. It’s hard. The fabulous and magical world that occupies my mind 90% of the time is intricate and illustrious. The characters, the landscape – all I have to do is close my eyes and I see it all as if I were right in the thick of it. Sometimes I don’t even have to close my eyes. (Of course, that’s when my kids point out that they can’t hear their TV show because Mommy’s yelling at the people in her head again. But everyone does that, right?) However, translating that world and all its details into an organized and captivating story, complete with acceptable grammar and a definable series arch, well that’s just not an easy task. As a new writer, it didn’t take me long to realize that having a story to tell and being able to tell a story are two completely different things. And after an hour of contemplating whether or not fictional characters use the bathroom as often as real people, it’s no wonder my 5-year-old’s dirty laundry starts to hold a certain appeal.
2. Why should I write? The internet is jam-packed with stories of struggling writers. Those who have been at it their whole lives with only a pile of rejection letters to show for their efforts; those who have found limited success only to be thwarted in the long run; those who have watched as the industry struggles and changes through a difficult and fluctuating economy. Why should I even bother writing when the inevitable outcome is frustration? (For some reason this argument tends to play through my mind the same week every month, lasting for a standard 5-7 days then miraculously disappears.) Ultimately, like it or not, I am a writer. I don’t think I could stop now if I tried. And success or failure, like so many others out there in this wonderful field, I will continue to write because that’s simply part of who I am. Besides, rejection builds character. Right?
3. I just need to finish ____ first. For me, it’s always reading. I read CONSTANTLY. We are talking 250+ pages a day. Granted I’m a pretty fast reader, but that means I read while fixing meals, while working out, while helping the kids with their homework, while watching TV, while at basketball and cheerleading practice, while working … basically if I’m awake, I’m reading. So when I force myself to pull my nose from the pages of whatever book I’m currently consuming (right now its Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong) it’s to pay focused attention to my kids, my husband, my house, etc. I have every intention to finish writing that next chapter just as soon as I’m done reading this current book. But wouldn’t you know it, Laurell K Hamilton’s Flirt came out this week. Now how am I suppose to write knowing that Anita Blake is out there right now doing her necromancer thing and I’m missing it?
4. I don’t have time. It’s amazing how time-consuming life is. Not a single day goes by that we don’t have something ‘extra’ to attend. Basketball practice, cheerleading practice, tutoring, library groups, various illnesses, and that’s on top of the normal schedule of school, work (part-time for me, very full-time for my husband), and the occasional hour or two of sleep. Life is just busy. Finding time to write means making it a priority. Let me just pencil that in between the dentist appointments, after school reading groups, and dropping the car off at the shop. Again.
5. I’m not good at it. When I completed the first draft of my first novel, I sat back, had a glass of wine and felt like I’d really accomplished something. Then the panic set in. I hadn’t written ANYTHING other than a budget report or permission slip for well over a decade. What if it wasn’t good? And if it wasn’t good, how in the world was I going to make it better? This is where that all-powerful writer’s group comes in handy. Fortunately, I have found a very knowledgable, very honest, group of fellow writers with whom I can share and critique work. They take my first draft and tear it up so I have a better chance of putting it back together in a more appealing format. They’re also great preparation for all that future rejection that’s just waiting around the corner:)
So there you have it. My writing neurosis. Probably a little negative, but that’s what happens when I get get severe writer’s block. Maybe you have similar obstacles. Maybe your obstacles are completely different. Either way, I suggest taking the time to really examine your excuses. If nothing else, it will give you another reason to put off whatever it is you’re really supposed to be working on!