Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Top 5 Ways To Overcome Writing Excuses

This post is a direct response to yesterday's post covering the five reasons why a novel project I'd been working on isn't completed yet.

If you want the simple response, here are the best 5 ways to overcome those excuses:

1) Butt
2) In
3) Chair
4) And
5) Write

Or, put another way, stop whining and making up excuses and just get your butt into the chair and start writing.

However, I owe it to myself and readers of this blog to try to outline HOW I plan on accomplishing getting my butt into the chair and writing. So I'll go back to each of yesterday's excuses and talk about how I can overcome them.

Okay, time to put on our big boy "serious face" and deal with our issues

1) Loving The Day Job (Which consumes more time)

Okay, so the love the day job means I put more time and effort into it. Yesterday, for example, the day job had me at a Hamilton area radio station for 6:30 to talk to Bob Bratina at CHML AM900 about books and bookselling, taking away time I had originally slated for working on the werewolf novel.

These things happen. You need to deal with them. First of all, "Boo Frigging Hoo" for you. You love your day job. Stop bitching about it and relish in that fact. Do you know how many unfortunate slobs out there hate their job? Suck it up. So you lost about an hour of writing time you had originally planned for. You, therefore, need to find another hour elsewhere. Is there another activity you can drop and slot in writing? Can you do what Kevin J. Anderson does and dictate your writing into an audio recorder to find that time? You like to believe you're a creative person, so you shouldn't be lazy when it comes to creative ways to make time for writing.

2) Too Easily Distracted (By Internet, Blogging, Social Media)
Simple response. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life in the internet age. Suck it up. Deal with it. You like the internet for your ability to get information, whether it's research for a writing project or connections to editors, writers, readers and friends. Stop blaming the internet for your own failing and admit the truth. You'd be distracted by whatever shiney bauble is presented to you. First, you recognize this weakness in yourself -- it's time now to deal with it. Do you need to write in a place that you have no internet access? If so, how will you assure yourself you won't be distracted by something else? You DO know that once you START writing, those distractions are mostly ignorable. So work at STARTING writing, and you'll get there.

3) Other Smaller Writing Projects Slip Into The Cracks
First of all, I'm going to merge this excuse with excuse 4, which Paula B of The Writing Show called me out for in yesterday's post. Excuse 4 was limited experience writing novels, which was really an extension of this excuse being that with limited time chunks it's much easier to do short stories, poems and articles rather than work on a novel length projects.

Okay, this happens in the physical world, too. Little things continually slip into the cracks, and soon, consume more time that should have been spent on the big projects. But here's the funny thing, the little things will ALWAYS slip in, so you need to focus on the big ones first and let the little falls fall into place. The old adage of filling a container with boulders, rocks and sand is true. Start by putting the boulders (your top priorities) into the container, then add the rocks (the slightly lesser priorities), then pour the sand in. You'll fill the container (or, your day's goals), with the priorities first, and while the little things will still be there, you'll have at least started the day focusing on the big important things -- like the novel. If you find the time (and you will, give the tiny chunks of time you can use on smaller writing projects), you can still work on them. Or, think of the smaller writing projects like an appetiser or dessert -- but, unlike the way you often roll, don't let the appetiser or dessert overcome the main meal. Consume them in the portions they were intended for.

4) Yes, I skipped this lame excuse - read 3 for the reason

5) Working To Deadline
Okay, so you need an actual real deadline to commit to, to motivate you. Consider that done if you read a comment in yesterday's post. Paula B of The Writing Show suggested July 31st.
Are you happy, Mark? Good. Now get your butt in the chair and start writing. No, not more blog post and fun social stuff. Work on the damn werewolf novel already. The clock is ticking.

Thanks for that, Paula! (Or should I say, Sgt B)

I still love this quote from Hugh Prather from his book "Notes To Myself" and which appears at the footer of this blog. I used to keep it posted above the desk where I spent most of my time writing.

"If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire is not to write." - Hugh Prather

Now, for the writers out there reading this. What are your excuses for not writing and getting the project done? How can you address them and get past them? How would you overcome them?


Paula B. said...

Okay, Mark, July 31st it is. I expect weekly progress reports. You pick the day, but once you've done so, stick to it.

Laura from Canada said...

Discipline is freedom from remorse. That is the comment I just wrote on a Post It which is now stuck to my computer. Now let's have our project done by year end, shall we?


Mark Leslie said...

Hey, nice quote, Laura. I like it.

Weekly updates, Paula?! Yikes! (Okay, this week so far, I've written 1200 words) - but will work on formalizing a progress report for Sgt B.