excuses! Excuses! EXCUSES!

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint  New Journals

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
New Journals

This post has been simmering in the creative juices of my stewpot brain for weeks.

I’ve been unwilling to let it come to a boil and bemoan (yet again) my lack of writing. I know this is the writer’s journey. The cycle of highs and lows. Triumphs and defeats.

But I wonder should I keep talking about the journey? Especially when said journey is at a standstill?

Apparently, the answer is yes because here I am, telling you (yet again) that I have writer’s block. Or better yet, as Jerry Cleaver, author of my go to resource, Immediate Fiction, puts it: “Page Fright”.

Last time I talked about writing, it was on the heels of a recommendation to take a sabbatical. To which I publicly said no, only to traverse that path anyway …

Confession: It’s been months since I’ve opened Scrivener. It’s been weeks since I made a note in my journal relative to the novel in progress. It’s been days since I’ve thought about my characters and what’s going on in their lives. Truly, I am embarrassed at my lack of concern for them.

So you’re probably wondering what has me blocked this time. What’s the trigger for my “page fright”?

  • Excuses
  • Self-loathing
  • Emotions
  • Self-doubt
  • Oh yeah and did I mention?
  • Excuses

Tell me my creative friends … have you ever said any of these things:

I’m too tired …

It’s an excuse. I have the energy to stay up all hours of the night and day watching TV or surfing the web (especially for books on Amazon) or playing games on my iPhone. So I’ll take the hit for this one. It’s really just laziness on my part.

I’m too busy …

And I am. I’m a wife and mom who works outside of the home. Needless to say in the last six months my day job workload has more than tripled; leaving no room for anything else. Except maybe: baby blankets? Remember all my friends who are expecting or adopting? Wait. That’s another excuse. If I’m being honest it just means I procrastinate and writing is first thing to go.

I don’t have time …

Okay, is this the same as being too busy? Maybe. What I know is in a high time in my writer cycle I would say something like: “It’s about making time,” which is a truthful declaration. And I would. I just don’t know what to do in the low times like right now.

Writers should read widely … inside and outside their genre

So, I’ve immersed myself in books. Isn’t that what the Goodreads 2013 Challenge is for? I need to read more before I can write well. Reading a well written novel should teach me tips and tricks. Unfortunately, all the great writing I’ve been reading is discouraging me … paralyzing me. Plus all the bad writing I’ve been reading is discouraging me. This losing myself in other people’s stories instead of my own is a distraction.

Who am I kidding … Nobody’s going to want to read this

The word drivel comes to mind which is why good writing and bad writing is discouraging. It all depends on the day I peruse my darlings. Sometimes I find gold and it makes me smile. Other times, I lay my head on my desk and weep because only rewriting can fix it. Ever been here?

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

“Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable.” ~Zig Ziglar

I’m not good enough because writing is hard …

Haha … this is Who-Am-I-Kidding’s kissing cousin. Writing is hard despite my love for words and the thrill of a story. Thanks to I-Don’t-Have-Time and I’m-Too-Tired, the last thing I want to do is invest my time in learning “the craft” of writing. I know … another play at laziness.

I need to build a platform …

Do I really? I mean, yes, I get it. I do. But having a platform and nothing meaningful or substantial as in finished to give those who would join “my tribe” is just social media fun not platform building. Distraction at its finest, right? Tweet. Friend. Post. Like. Sigh.

What is the cure for the excuse-itis I am experiencing? I’ve self-diagnosed the symptoms:

  • Distraction?
  • Procrastination?
  • Laziness?
  • Stress?

Truth be told, all my excuses boil down to good old fashioned FEAR.

  • Fear of finishing.
  • Fear of not finishing.
  • Fear that it’ll be bad.
  • Fear that it’ll be great.
  • The list is endless.

We are just a couple of months away from my self-imposed August deadline. WIP started in August 2011. I can look in my journal and tell you the day I penned the idea. I gave myself a year for completing. Ambitious for a first time novelist. Then I extended it to August 2012 and again to August 2013.

It’s fast approaching and I have little to show for it. I should cut myself some slack. August 2014 anyone?

Some of the podcasts I listen to have recently referenced authors who worked on a book for 10, 20, 30+ years before finishing.

Again I wonder … what’s the cure for excuses? Especially when the first words to form are my handy little phrases … there seems to be a shortage of the words I crave most. You know …

  • Clever words
  • Witty words
  • Rambling words
  • Story picture words
  • Pithy words
  • Words with friends (oh wait … no … strike this one)

I should be making word soup in my stewpot brain … not excuses …

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint  New Ink

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
New Ink

And yet during this unexpected hiatus I’ve found it easier to tell people who ask what I do: 

“I am a writer.”

And to respond to the question: “What do you write?” with “I write YA fiction.”

Now like the sign off from the podcast Writing Excuses: “This has been Writing Excuses. You’re out of excuses. Now go write.”

Today, I’ll take that advice. I’m off to write in my stacks of beautifully blank journals; fighting “page fright” with ink. But before I go, tell me:

What self-talk keeps you from your creative pursuits? What’s on your list that isn’t on mine? And most important, how do you combat the excuse mill?

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Comments

  1. I find that when I have lots of time, I do lots of things I think need to get done, few of them pertaining to my next novel. When I am swamped and overwhelmed, I feel motivated to dig in with the next project and tend to make a lot of progress. Hi ho.

    • I can relate to that. When I have a lot of time I think I’ll write but I fill it with other stuff too. I guess I should be better about scheduling my time so writing doesn’t fall through the cracks. Thanks for reading!

  2. I also have trouble with the whole “I don’t have time” excuse. Like Chris mentioned above, we have to remind ourselves that we are in charge of our priorities. At the same time, it’s totally okay to forgive ourselves when something legitimate takes precedence in our lives (like a day job, lol). It’s all a balancing act, a work in progress. 🙂

  3. I think that is a useful recognition to have — that ultimately there is no such thing as “not having enough time” to do what you genuinely want, because you are responsible for setting your own priorities and not at the mercy of the others in your life who may want a say in them, as much as it may sometimes look like you are. I try to (but don’t always) keep that in mind.

  4. “Page fright”…love that term! Gail, I love your honesty with this process, putting out the common feelings probably all of us writers have. I think breaks are a good thing when your mind tells you that’s what it needs.

    It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish a novel as we all have different lives and different ways of working. As long as you want to do it, which clearly you do, the words will be written. Truthfully, the outcome doesn’t matter. Writing a novel is very hard work, something many dream of doing but will never try.

    Going for this dream is special in itself. To hell with the rest of it!

    • Thanks for the encouraging words Britt! I love the writing community … always so supportive.

      You’re right that the end doesn’t matter. My life’s dream is to write the great American novel but it will have to grow from “writing A novel”. Hopefully, at the end of this week I’ll have progress to report.

      Dream on …

  5. On my fridge from Breathe “If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” Maybe today, you choose one great word. Just one–and dwell on that. And then use that nifty voice recorder on your way home from work to record your new word. One small step… (and I’m all about the practical and easy at the moment!)

    • Yes, my dear friend. I shall start small. Like, an accountability call this week so we can strategize. You’ll get to play in Baby Girl’s world as an escape. Welcome home to the “new” normal.

  6. I feel your pain Gail. I’m presently at my first writers’ conference and it is comforting to know that we all have much the same doubts to overcome. Just being around other creative people may open new pathways in my writing, and may help to regain lost enthusiasm.
    One small exercise we did yesterday was enlightening. We were asked to draw/sketch a room and then write about the room for ten minutes. That very act of imaging let loose a flow of writing that I don’t think I’d have managed otherwise on a dull subject. So I’m reading up on imagery as a creative writing tool! Best of luck.

    • Thanks Roy. I hope your first writers’ conference is everything you expect and more. You’re right we all struggle with similar challenges. Community is a necessity for writers. Part of my challenge is that I haven’t been consistent in my accountability calls with my writing partners. They help keep me sane. I will have to try this exercise … write something other than what I’ve been working on. Thanks again.

  7. Thanks for the ping back. 😉

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