Excuse #1001

I came across a fun article today on Bustle. It made me laugh, but it also comforted me. The article, by Alex Weiss, talked about the various excuses writers use to get out of writing. It made me laugh because I can recall pretty much at least one instance for each of the ten examples where I had been victim to that way of thinking, not just for writing but for whatever task I may have needed to accomplish that day. The truth to what Weiss addresses in the article is so real that it’s funny. We can all use a good laugh at ourselves from time to time.

I also found the article comforting, which is the main reason I wanted to share it with you all. Sometimes when I feel like I am falling behind in my work or latest project, I get discouraged. I feel like everyone else is getting so far ahead of me and that there must be something wrong with me since I just can’t seem to focus. I feel like everyone else is out there succeeding and accomplishing their goals while I am here just… failing. This is certainly absolutely never the case. In reality, everyone struggles. Everyone has times when they go through every excuse in the book just to avoid doing one simple task. It’s human nature to crash and burn sometimes. It’s our body’s way of yelling at us, letting us know that it can’t keep up and it just needs a little rejuvenation. Failure isn’t the inability to do something. Failure is being in denial- knowing there’s an issue and doing nothing to fix it. We all make excuses, we all fail to complete our “to-do” lists sometimes, but how we pick ourselves up after we fall is what truly matters.

If you fall off the horse, don’t be afraid to get back up. The only way we learn is by making mistakes in the first place. Next time you find yourself with a list of excuses a mile long, take a quick glance at the list below, have a good laugh, and then get back up on that saddle.

  1. You Think Watching An Episode Of <Insert Favorite TV Show Here> Will Inspire You.

We all seek inspiration from our reality and everyday experiences. The strangest thing can ignite our next greatest story idea. So when we are feeling stuck, immersing ourselves in a realm of possibility actually makes sense. But when we do this, it’s very easy to get lost- way too lost. As Weiss suggests, limit yourself to one episode then move on.

2. You Convince Yourself Researching Counts As Work.

Researching is very important, but most research these days consists of one dreaded word: the internet. It’s very easy to become distracted when one click onto Facebook, Candy Crush, or your favorite shopping site can lead to hours of lost time. But hey, you were researching that whole time- right? When you find yourself needing to do some research, allot a certain amount of time for it. If the need pops up during your writing session, mark where more research is needed and keep writing. You can conduct your research after you are done writing.

3. You Must Have Writer’s Block Even Though You Know It Doesn’t Exist.

Your ability to write just doesn’t magically disappear, but sometimes we become convinced that’s the only logical explanation. If you are feeling stuck, instead of gluing your head to your comfy pillow with shame for all eternity, get out and do something. Do something active- walk, run, hike, bike. Or do something creative- cook, paint, draw, complete a quick project around the house you have been meaning to get to. If you exercise your brain in a simple way, your writing ability will “magically” reappear- I promise.

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4. You’ll Never Be As Good As So And So.

Jealousy and envy can sometimes be your own worst enemy. Don’t let someone else’s achievements steer you away from completing your own goals. Each and everyone one of us brings something unique to the table. Your creation will be just as awesome because it’s new, fresh, different, and because it’s yours.

5. You Believe Your Story Stinks.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of our work when editors reject it or it doesn’t sell as much as we thought it would. But, that has absolutely no bearing on the quality of work you produced. Success doesn’t happen over night. It takes a lot of dedication to get your work out there, only to be rejected 99% of the time. But one day, the glue will stick and all those rejections will be beyond worth it. You need to believe in your work before any one else will.

6. Your Day Job Wears You Out.

Having one job is enough, but how about two? Or even three? It’s hard to stay focused when you have a ton of other commitments you need to fulfill in order to survive. It’s easy to push the easiest one aside, which often times is our writing. Find a time that works for you every day to write. If you are too tired after work, try waking up earlier and writing first. Maybe your lunch break works best. Or maybe you just need to devote more of your weekend time to writing- skip Friday nights out and write.

7. Your Grocery List Suddenly Sounds Exciting.

At any given time, we all have a thousand other things we could be doing. Dinner needs to be prepped, laundry is waiting to be folded, the dust is quickly collecting around your house, and that check sitting on your counter desperately needs to be deposited into your bank account. Before you give up your writing time to tackle these chores, ask yourself what accomplishments will make you happier? Writing the next chapter of your book or folding your clothes? Chances are that writing will win every time. There will always  be time to complete some quick house chores, but every time you put off writing you get further and further away from ever starting again.

8. You Miss Your Friends.

When all your friends are out at your local hang-out joint, posting pictures of their drinks and delicious food it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely. But don’t let that feeling trick you into abandoning your work. Learn how to balance both worlds. Only go out one night a week or devote every other weekend to seeing your friends. If you go out every time your friends go out, chances are you are still going to end up feeling pretty crappy about yourself because you still have your failure to write lingering over you. And plus, your friends will understand that sometimes you just need to say ‘no.’ They want to see you succeed as well.

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9. You Just Really Need A Nap.

Especially on that rainy day, a nap is all you need. Sometimes naps are glorious, while other times they can be detrimental. If you are getting enough sleep every night, chances are you don’t need that nap.

10. You’re Terrified Of Finishing Your Story.

Sometimes we put things off because we don’t want them to end or be over. Finishing a book can be a terrifying thing. What will everyone else think of it? What will I do with all my free time? What am I going to write about next? We become attached to our work and we don’t want to see it go. We will actually kind of miss it. But this is what you worked so hard for- to show it off to the world. Your next great story idea is waiting for you. Writing is never over.

Write on.

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