Since beginning a more personal writing career in April 2018, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from folks who say they want to write, but something keeps getting in the way.
I get it.
Writing is a brain game, right? You’ve got to get your head in the game just to get anywhere, but your brain is bound to try to find any excuse to get you to stop, because writing is hard work.
It’s often lonely and slow work. And there’s no such thing as instant gratification in the writing world. You can wake up with a great, perhaps, brilliant idea that gets you incredibly excited… and yet? You’ve still got to sit down and do the work.
And that’s when it gets difficult.
1. You’re afraid to fail.
This seems to be the first place where people falter. What if nobody reads my work? What if nobody likes it? What if it goes nowhere?
Of course, the real question is what if we put in all of this effort and we fail? Fail anyway. Fail completely.
For whatever reason, we think that failure is final. So, we fear it. People who want to write fear failure, as if any single disappointment could confirm your deepest fear that you are nothing remarkable.
2. You’re waiting for the muse to strike.
Like a lot of other writers, you hold the strange belief that creativity requires an inexplicable jolt of magic, or, the muse.
Oh, the muse. Some folks swear that they cannot write without it. They won’t even try to write unless the muse strikes, and as a result, are often waiting a very long time.
At the root of the muse fixation, there is a writer who lacks confidence in their ideas. They are convinced that they need to have a certain, intense feeling before they can start writing.
This is a lot like looking for love.
3. You think you’ve been hit with writer’s block.
Writer’s block is stupid. Writer’s block is a myth. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but let’s think this through.
Everybody has bad days. Not just writers, and not just creatives. People of every industry all go through slogs where they just aren’t feeling it.
Not just you.
Certain people feel this slog more deeply. In a creative career like writing, it’s hard because there is nobody out there to tell you what to do next. This isn’t like working at a grocery store or clocking in at an office. There’s no manager or protocol.
4. You don’t actually like writing.
I recently (and finally) watched You on Netflix. One thing that really stuck out to me was how little Beck liked to write.
Look, she was getting her MFA and telling the world that she wanted to become a writer, yet she made excuse after excuse to do anything but write.
Let’s be honest. That girl did not enjoy writing.
And maybe that's you.
5. You’re more excited about being a writer than, you know, *being* a writer.
This is where I’m going with Beck. There are a lot of reasons why somebody might dislike writing. But this issue is likely at the heart of a lot of it.
The world will never run out of people who gush about being a writer more than they ever actually write. Because the writing isn’t what excites them. It’s the idea of it all.
Some folks think that being a writer makes them edgy or an enigma. They love the dream of acquiring fame and fortune from writing, but they aren’t that interested in doing the work.
6. You’ve got weird hangups about what being a “real writer” means.
People’s hangups about writing are all over the map. I have hangups about not being a real writer because I haven’t published a book.
Other folks are hung up over the fact that they didn’t have a bestselling novel at age 22.
Maybe you think that you won’t be a real writer until (you fill in the blank), and you’re letting that belief keep you from actually writing.
You should stop. You need to let go of your specific notions and focus on writing.
There’s only one way to move past the excuses.
You have to write. Or, decide you’re done with trying, done pretending, or even halfheartedly calling yourself a writer. Get off the fence already and understand that every writer goes through the same damn thing.
Doubts and fears.
Each writer just happens to run on their very own blend of fear and procrastination.
Shirking your excuses is the first step of every writer’s battle.