We all have excuses for not writing.
I don’t have time before/after work. I’m exhausted. I have to get my work out in today. I don’t want to get up early. I’m not in the mood. I have other plans. I’m fried and would much rather watch a movie.
In my professional life I’ve learned that excuses can be made for anything. People make excuses when they face something difficult but don’t feel empowered to work through it. They have great skills for making excuses but not for problem-solving them.
But at the end of the day we still have to do that difficult thing, and making an excuse doesn’t bring us any closer to doing it.
Last Friday was the deadline #3 for the Writing Without Pants Challenge, and my chapter was nowhere close to completion. I was still in the editing process, which I didn’t finish until Wednesday night.
So what happened?
I made excuses like the ones above. I was productive for this deadline but not enough to meet it. It seemed like something was always coming up: a run, a CrossFit class, cooking dinner, going to temple, or simply a crappy day.
I was late reaching my goal. My deadline was Friday, and I didn’t finish until Wednesday. That’s five days that cut into my time for Chapter 4, so now I really have to haul to make the April 5th deadline.
To push through I started setting a timer. I gave myself fifteen minutes before work to edit those last pages while drinking coffee. It was a great way to start the morning. It left me with a sense of satisfaction and ease.
I recommend this practice if your day is packed like mine. All you need is fifteen minutes to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Make it as important as cooking dinner or working out.
Now I have to give up some books. The baseline is four, but I wrote two blog posts since the last deadline, so that number is reduced to two.
I’ll be saying good-bye to City of Thieves by David Benioff and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Because they are wonderful reads, I hope they will go to a good home, which is why I am giving them away to readers.
And so you know what you’ll be getting, City of Thieves is in mildly used condition, and Gilead has some wrinkled pages due to water damage.
I’ll be giving these books away to the first two people who reply to this post telling me what excuses you have made as a writer. Bonus points if you can say how you overcame them. I’d love to hear all your excuses.