10 Reasons Not to Write (And How to Get Past Them)

Photo Credit:  Ben Timney

Sometimes the idea of writing is daunting.

The thought alone of stationing yourself in front of your Macbook or Lenovo IdeaPad (for you Franzen fans) can leave you feeling defeated.  The voice in the back of your head is echoing the chastising sentiment of countless blogs and best-selling authors: “why do you want to be a writer if you don’t want to write?”.

To make matters worse, most of us don’t have countless spare hours to spend bleeding ideas on to a typewriter.  We have jobs.  Family.  Social commitments.  The need to cook, clean, run errands, volunteer, and, oh yes, sleep.  It’s okay that we don’t always want to write, right?

Below are ten completely acceptable and realistic reasons to put off writing… but how you can get past them and write anyways.

1. You’re too tired (or sick, or emotional, or worse, apathetic).

November brings us colds and flus, an influx of social obligations, and for many of us… a disgusting amount of mud, slush and snow to clean up after.  The technical term for what your feeling after all this is “blaaahhhhhhh”.  The cure? A hot cup of tea, a Snuggie (or normal blanket) and a simple writing exercise:  Stream of consciousness.

Instead of racking your brain for something edgy and exciting, just spill your brain into your note book.  You’ll either find a gem in that mess, or the strength to keep writing.

2. Your parents are visiting in an hour.  

Dinner to make?  Cushions to fluff?  Dog to walk?  Tylenol to find?   Take ten minutes to write the anticipated dialogue of the night ahead.  Consider it an opportunity to see the humour in your absolutely normal chaos of family stopping by.  Plus, you can later adapt it for your novel.  You could even stretch that into 40 minutes of writing, because really, your parents have seen your messy room before.

3.  Because, the Internet.

Have you heard of Emergency Kittens?  Recipe blogs? Pinterest?  The Facebook? Margaret Atwood on Twitter??  Memes!?!?  Yes, the internet is a magically delicious, disturbing and distracting place.  I have five words for you:  Pens.  Paper.  Pretend power outage.   Get to it!

4.  Because, kids.

Sorry, I can’t help you here.

I have cats, not kids, and they are not the same.  For this reason, I wont pretend that  I have a plan to keep your two year old from putting her socks in your teacup, but hey, consider it inspiration for when they finally fall asleep, and you’re writing stream of consciousness.

5.  You are out of ideas.

FREEBEE WRITER PROMPT: Name 10 insensitive things people say to their friends who just broke up with (or was dumped by) their significant other.  If you’re not crying by the end of it, this exercise should stir up some conflict for your character’s social life.  If you are crying… that was a terrible writing prompt for you.

I am so sorry.

6.  You don’t want to suck. 

You can’t suck at something if you don’t do it, right?  Drop that line of reasoning write-ahem-right now!  You are a writer.  That is the person you want to be and that is the person your dog believes you are too!  He thinks you are the BEST. WRITER. EVER.

If you don’t have a dog, don’t fret: you write better than any dog ever has!  Now take that inspiration and get to scribbling.

7. You miss seeing people.  

Ah, human interaction.  We all need it, even if it’s just in small doses.  Hop over to a crowded local coffee shop, make some small talk with the barista, and get to eavesdropping on patrons beside you.  Whether you’re next to two suits discussing how ridiculous the afternoon’s Powerpoint was, or bachelorette party planners, you have got your healthy serving of socializing and incredible fodder for your story.

Don’t forget your notebook.

8.  You’re just not in the mood.  

Sometimes the candles wont be lit and the lightbulbs need replacing.  Sometimes, instead of rose petals, you’re surrounded by left over pizza crusts. Write anyways, because the desire to write grows with writing.

9.  It feels like work.  

Well, it is.

Fanciful notions of a bohemian or aristocratic lifestyle where you spend a few hours writing on a sunlit balcony (after a night of bumping shoulders and sharing witty banter with other elite artists) are not constructive.

Writing is work.  You won’t always want to do it, and you won’t always be in the mood, but to be a writer, you have to push through it.  Anything worthwhile WILL take a little bit of work.

10.  You’re too busy kicking yourself for not writing sooner.

Okay, I lied.  This is not an acceptable reason for not writing, but it’s one so many writers  fall back on consistently.  We punish ourselves sulking over the time we spent re-watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and now that’s two hours gone that we could have spent writing.

Take a breath, forgive yourself and take advantage of the time you do have to write, right now.  It’s that easy.

What other acceptable reasons for avoiding writing to you fall back on?  How do you push through them? Leave a comment below or tell us on twitter, #writeanyways.

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