Most freelance writers spend more time and creative energy making excuses for not writing than actually writing.
If you are reading this, welcome to the club. Standing room only.
Two of the main reasons why freelance writers are afflicted by “non-writing excusitis” are:
- Lack of accountability and
- Lack of support.
This pernicious problem of making excuses for not writing is so rampant that Linda Formicelli of The Renegade Writer has decided to write an e-book about it: Write It Anyway: Bust the Excuses That Are Keeping You from Pursuing Your Passion
In this e-book, she plans to tear down the top 40 non-writing excuses with the help of writing coaches and experienced writers. Here are my top ten excuses from her preliminary list:
- I’m waiting for inspiration to strike.
- I have no time.
- I don’t have a degree in English/journalism/creative writing.
- I’m afraid of doing it wrong.
- I can’t come up with any good ideas.
- I’m not good enough.
- I need more knowledge/information on how to do things right.
- I don’t feel like writing.
- I get distracted by the phone/TV/Internet.
- I want my writing to be perfect.
And here are some more of my personal favorites that are not on her list:
- I’m too disorganized.
- I’m not sure what to write.
- Freelance writing is too complicated.
- I can’t decide which topic to focus on.
- I can’t decide whether to write fiction or non-fiction or poetry; novel or short stories or flash fiction; articles or e-books…
- I’m not sure what to do first – write or search for the ideal market.
- I am overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done at the backend of my writing business–
- listing and organizing ideas for articles and e-books
- searching for the right markets/editors
- record-keeping of my articles and submissions
- backup system
- finances and bookkeeping
- I’m not sure why I want to write – my mind goes blank and my body feels numb when I try to figure out my life mission, vision, values, and long term writing goals. Sometimes I even have trouble figuring out my daily or weekly writing goals.
- Frequent panic attacks.
- Prolonged and counterproductive analysis paralysis
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says that this habit of rationalization prevents us from feeling the shame we would feel if we truly faced what cowards we are for not doing our work.
In the words of Pressfield, “It’s one thing to lie to ourselves. It’s another thing to believe it.”
The first step in this battle against Resistance is to stop believing the excuses that stop you from writing. Though they may seem rational and plausible, you have to recognize that they are all false. So you have to ignore these excuses and do the work that you and only you are meant to do.
(13 November 2013)
Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print. He blogs at http://rohishetty.com.