Here’s a list of things that can keep us from writing. You’ll notice that these aren’t “time-wasters.” In fact, they’re necessary, but they can become excuses for not writing.
Books, Blog Posts, and Podcasts
My shelves, both physical and virtual, are bowing under the weight of unread volumes—many of them on the craft of writing.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs and podcasts for writers and we could spend the rest of our live reading and listening. But all the know-how in the world won’t get our words on paper (or the computer).
It’s best to write while improving our craft, not after we’ve learned everything there is to know because that’s never going to happen.
Times of refreshing and doing nothing aren’t bad, but rarely will we find the motivation to write while plopped in front of the TV or nodding off in a hammock chair.
I’ve found the more I write, the more energized I become. That’s rarely the case when I’m watching television or sitting in my backyard, though it is lovely thanks to my hubby’s hard work.
I encourage you to limit downtime and honestly evaluate whether it actually makes you more productive.
I’ve heard recently of a couple of writers, friends of mine, who forget to eat. Let’s just say I can’t imagine that.
Eating small, nutritious meals throughout the day is a good thing. So is keeping water and healthy snacks close at hand while we write. But most of us know what it’s like to be distracted by food. Why not grab a snack after you’ve written x number of words rather than before?
As a former personal trainer, I know the many benefits of regular physical exercise and I’m an advocate of making it part of your daily routine.
I would encourage you to schedule cardio and resistance exercises into your week. I would even encourage you to take breaks from your writing to stretch, get up and move around, do a little chair dancing, whatever.
But don’t allow a commitment to exercise to take you away from your commitment to write. It should, instead, enhance it.
Time with family is crucial. They should never feel as if we would rather be back at our computer than spending time with them.
As much as possible, it’s best to work our writing around time with family. This may mean sacrifice on our part (less downtime, less sleep, less pleasure reading, etc.), but our family deserves our loving attention.
The temptation is not to make these sacrifices, but if our writing is important, we will make time for it.
I rarely use this as an excuse not to write. Actually, I rarely use this as an excuse for anything, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility.
I’m not saying you have to let the dishes pile up or wait until your carpet gets “crunchy,” but if you write from home, you do have to avoid distraction. There is always something that needs to be done—especially around my house.
You may have to take your laptop or your notebook and pen out of the house to a spot where you won’t be tempted to grab the vacuum. I’ve heard this is a real thing for some people.
This can be a toughy. And unless you write full-time, people may not understand why you can’t take on a certain volunteer project. But if your writing is to be a priority, you have to know that it’s okay to say no.
In her book The Best Yes, Lysa TerKeurst discusses how to identify why we say yes when we shouldn’t and how to overcome this tendency. If we don’t say no, we won’t have the time or the energy to dive in when our “best yes” opportunity comes along.
I also love what Robert Benson says in Dancing on the Head of a Pen: “Any writer worth his ink stains can think of a small army of things to keep him from writing. If he does not have enough imagination to invent the excuses necessary to keep him from writing, he likely does not have enough imagination to write a book.”
Now go and use your imagination to fuel your writing.
Contributed by Stephanie Nickel, CES writer and editor