More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lies Writers Tell

“Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t.”
– Ernest Hemingway

Okay, so Mr. H. knew a thing or two about writing, but sometimes when *life* gets into the act, it doesn’t seem quite that simple.

An RWA chapter I visited recently holds a monthly challenge to encourage productivity. Members put their writing goals for the coming four weeks and a dollar bill into an envelope. At the next meeting, the writers who achieved their goals have their names put in a hat, and one person’s name is drawn to win the whole pot.

At the meeting I attended, only six members had entered the challenge (though I’m told sometimes as much as $30 is on the line). The goals in question ranged from “write 8000 words” to “start writing again.” And only two people had done what they planned to do.

This led to a discussion among the women at my table. We cared enough about being writers to drag our butts to an evening meeting, yet we all had to admit we pretty much… weren’t writing.

We had a variety of excuses. We’re writers – of course we know how to come up with stories.

Member 1 – “I’m pregnant and I had morning sickness.” Only she acknowledged the morning sickness had ended after the first trimester. And she also allowed as how, once she stopped being pregnant, she’d have a new excuse – “I have a new baby.”

Me – “I just moved.” But I had to admit “just” had stretched out to over three months, I was all settled in at my new job, and everything I realistically expected to unpack was already unpacked. My excuse was sounding paper thin.

Guest No. 2 – “My job is sucking the soul out of me.” Okay, at one time or another, most of us have “been there, done that, got the T-shirt.” But when the day job is unsatisfying, isn’t that when we most need the creative outlet writing provides?

All right, maybe it really *is* as simple as Ernie boy said. There's no perfect time to write. Life is always happening and will always be happening. If we want to, we’ll always be able to find an excuse not to write. If, on the other hand, we want to be writers, then we have to write. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. End of story. Or rather, beginning of story… lots of wonderful stories.

So, what are your excuses for not writing, and how do you talk yourself out of them?


Jennifer L Hart said...

"I just finished a novel and I'm scared and depressed it won't sell.Plus I spent all week trying to beat out Sparks in a listopia poll that had my OCD flaring up like gasoline on a campfire."
--Jenn Hart, lunatic writer extraordinaire.

Really there's no such thing as a good excuse unless we have a Dr.'s note or death in the family.

I keep saying I need to get organized, but what I really need to do is stop stalling like a POS car.

SarannaDeWylde said...

Oh, gosh. Where do I start?

-I'm tired

Then I play games online to "relax my brain" when what I need to do is write.

Social networking. Marketing. Blah blah blah when I need to just write.

Gail Hart said...

I think we're all in the same boat -- though some of us are sinking faster than others! ;-) We just need to WRITE!

Lori said...

Oh yeah, so so so true. Too busy, got a child to raise, an apartment to clean, I'm wiped out.

And every single time I meet a goal my life becomes a million times better. Amazing how we love what's good for us but find reasons not to do it.

Gail Hart said...

You're so right, Lori! We writers can be a pretty neurotic bunch that way. What are we so afraid of?

Thanks for stopping by!

M.A. Kastle said...

I am new to leaving a comment, but I'm not new to enjoying your posts. It's hard for a beginner like myself to stay focused with 'life' playing around me or targeting me. But knowing I'm not alone gives me hope. Keep up the great work.
Thank you all!

Marjorie said...

Lori, I LOVED what you said!!! It is SO true! I am not a writer but it can be applied to any activity in our life. I do write but it is journaling. I still find all the same excuses that everyone else does.

Gail Hart said...

M.A. - I think most writers feel that way sometimes, regardless of experience level. Thanks for coming out of lurkdom!

And Marjorie, thanks for dropping by. :-)

Jaleta Clegg said...

I just found your blog and I love it! I've got all sorts of ready-made excuses for not writing - 8 kids, half of them autistic, 1 getting married next week, a job, a home business, cleaning, cooking, too tired, not feeling well, etc, ad nauseum. But then I look at what I've written at the times when I had the most excuses and think, I have no excuses now, not compared to then when I wrote whole novels in just a month or two. It really does come down to discipline and scheduling and desire. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, distractions unplugged or drowned out in music, and WRITE! I need to figure out how to push my marketing to just one or two days a week.

Gail Hart said...

Thanks so much for dropping by, Jaleta! I totally agree with you, we can find the time to write if we really want to. I have a poster a critique partner gave me that says, "Writers write; everyone else makes excuses." I think that's very true.

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