15 Excuses For NOT Writing And How To Move Past Them
I’ve been a professional content writer for more than 20 years. And I’ve made ALL the excuses for not writing, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Too many other things on the to-do list.
- Not in the right mood.
- Need to do more research.
- Need a longer piece of uninterrupted time.
- Not settled on the topic.
- Hungry. Should make lunch/snack/dinner first.
- Tired. Nap time!
- Things are messy. Need to tidy up my workspace first.
- It’s so lovely outside. Should take a walk before I settle down to write.
- Too late in the day.
- Friends/family need my attention.
- Have a headache.
- Need to deal with my email.
- Just going to spend a few minutes on social media.
- The deadline’s not looming. I’ve got plenty of time.
Your excuses may be different than mine. They may be better than mine. But here’s the thing…
Regardless of what excuses you’re using, the end result is still the same – no writing. And the longer you make excuses, the less time you have to actually get the work done.
“You can have the results you want, or you can have excuses. You can’t have both.” – Clyde Lee Dennis
Here’s what I’ve noticed about excuses…
Most of us manage to accomplish certain things on a regular basis, even if those things aren’t super fun. For example, I bet you brush your teeth every morning. You clean up after cooking. You may even have designated days and times for things like getting groceries and doing laundry.
Some of us are more regimented and organized than others, but we’ve all got routines in our lives, and those routines repeat themselves again and again, without excuses.
So, if you want to permanently stop making excuses for not writing, the secret is to make writing part of your daily routine.
Pick a time of day that works for you. I’m a morning person so I write from 8:30am – 9:30am, Monday to Friday. This has been my routine for so long that I do it without thinking.
Sometimes, I’ve got big projects on the go and I need to expand that time commitment, which is fine. But I still start writing at the same time every day because THAT’S MY ROUTINE.
Routines don’t have to be a drag.
I’m sorry if I seem to be reducing the creative process to “chore” status. It isn’t my intention and it certainly isn’t how my daily writing routine feels to me. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
I look forward to my writing time because I associate it with comfort and joy.
I make an EXCELLENT cup of coffee every morning before I settle in to write. I light a scented soy candle. And I slip my feet into the most lovely pair of slippers. Because warm feet are happy feet, and cold feet are not.
Some mornings, I accomplish great things. Other mornings, I don’t. But I always manage to pull something out of my head and shape it into words. The actual process of writing is so strongly associated with that 830am-930am space that I don’t consider the option of NOT writing.
Excuses don’t enter the scene. That’s the power of routine.
Routines don’t appear magically.
Once you have a writing routine solidly in place, I PROMISE it will work. Those excuses for not writing will evaporate and you’ll just “get ‘er done” as they say in my part of the world. I’m from the east coast of Canada.
But you can’t just snap your fingers and magically establish a new routine. It takes time and effort. And the excuses will put up a good fight.
You will have to ignore the old standbys, like “I’ll start tomorrow” and its partner “I’m too busy”, and manoeuvre around the endless versions of “I’ll get to it later”.
Be strong. Don’t surrender!
If you’re wondering how long it takes to form a new habit, click here to read an article on that subject by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Spoiler alert: It’s about two months.
Tips to get you started.
Here are three tips to help you get started, and make it easier hang on to your new writing routine:
- Make your writing space comfortable and appealing. Whether you have an office or work at the kitchen table, it’s important to make it a happy space. For me, happiness involves coffee, candles, and warm feet. For you, it may be tea, pan flute music, and an especially cozy sweater. Or maybe it’s something completely different. You do you!
- Write at the same time every day. Write. Rest. Repeat.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Overly ambitious goals are seldom achievable. If you’ve ever tried a wacky diet or exercise plan, you know what I mean. You start off strong but end up exhausted and making excuses for that box of donuts. An hour a day is a reasonable goal. Stick with that for awhile.
I’m a huge believer in the power of having a writing routine. It works for me and I’m confident that it will work for you. That said, a long-term, sustainable routine must also be flexible.
We all have days when we really are sick, or exhausted, or over-whelmed. That’s life.
It’s okay to press pause when you need to care for yourself, or for someone else. In fact, it’s essential.
Banish all the excuses for not writing, but keep listening to your inner voice because it’s very wise.