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Solitary Spark: Ten Excuses I Use to Avoid Writing

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ten Excuses I Use to Avoid Writing

The past few months have been very busy and writing has completely taken a back seat in my life. I always find an excuse to avoid writing. When I took a weekend trip to the lake, I read a book instead of working on my novel. Right now? I'm writing a blog post instead of becoming reacquainted with my characters. I am writing a blog post about avoiding writing instead of working on my novel. It makes little sense, but here's the thing: writing is hard. Writing takes time and effort and concentration. It's frustrating, infuriating, painstaking. It means taking a part of yourself and opening it to the world. Writers will find all sorts of reasons to avoid writing because it is all of the above.

At this point I could give you a single excuse for why I failed to revisit my fictional world tonight, but it wouldn't be truthful. There are always many reasons that writers such as myself avoid writing. They are often related yet separate issues that we use as justification for avoiding what we enjoy most...at least, when we finally sit down and do it.

The following are ten of the biggest excuses I use to justify to myself why I avoid writing.

 (This is a pretty good one, I think)
10. Work
I've worked all day and I just want to vegetate when I get home. This is one of my biggest excuses. Often my days are 9 to 12 hours long, with very few (if any) breaks. By the time I get home, I am fried and want to do nothing. Sure, I could write a few paragraphs or edit a previous chapter, but I've worked all day. That's a good excuse, right?
For those lucky enough to write for a living, this may not be a huge problem. For others, a regular 9 to 5 is necessary. After grinding the day away in a cubicle or on one's feet, work is the perfect, easy excuse.
9. Chores
I need to wash clothes. Make dinner. Walk the dog. Clean the house. Insert any daily or weekly chore and it can be used to avoid writing. Of course they're good reasons!  They have to be done.
The laundry must be done, no one wants a filthy house, and the family needs attention. After working all day or week, coming home to a laundry list of chores is an easy excuse to avoid writing.
8. Commitments
I promised _______ I would ________. Dinner and a movie with a spouse. After work cocktails with coworkers. Visiting family. Chauffeuring the kids. I can't turn every invitation down, can I? Sure, I don't really want to, but if I don't, I won't have a good excuse.
People in general tend to over commit without making time to take care of themselves. Writers are no different. Perhaps they're teaching a night class or freelancing for extra money. Sometimes it's time to care care of your own selfish wants and needs.
7. Distractions
Let me just finish this book, then I can clear my head and give my full attention. My favorite TV show is on tonight. Or (my own biggest) during the fall: it's college football season and my Saturdays are all about the pigskin.
It's easy to find a distraction when you finally sit down. They help us relax and entertain us. Everyone needs to relieve stress, but there's a difference between letting loose to decompress and seeking distractions to avoid the task at hand.
6. Slight of hand
I need to do some research. I'll just Google a few things. Search this database. Take a few notes. Oh, wait! I have an e-mail. Who's messaging me on Facebook? Back to the task at hand. Ugh, I'm not finding what I need. Haha. Look at that LOLCat.
Initial intentions are good, but you know well and good that you're not in the mood. You start out giving a little effort to really research what you need to make details come to life until there is some simple excuse to avoid the task all together. 
5. Uncertainty
I don't know if I like where this is going. I need to take a break and come back with a fresh mind. Do I really want to do that with this character? This isn't how I pictured it. Would readers even enjoy this? I'm not good enough. Could I handle negative comments if this stinks? Maybe I should stop. Now.
It's so easy to second guess everything you write. I don't think any writer could say that they don't desire to write a bestseller, to be successful. Yes, I write for myself because I have a story rattling around in my brain that needs to be told. It needs to be inked on paper for my sanity. On the other hand, I want everything I write to be good. To entertain. To be something I am proud of. The key is to not let that uncertainty hold you back.
4. Time
It's too late. If I start now, I'll never really get started. Or I'll be up all night writing. Or late for work. I still need to do this, this, and this, so if I write now, I'll never get it all done. The Walking Dead comes on in an hour. I don't have enough time to unwind after work. If I skip it tonight, I can go to bed early. I'll just make sure I write tomorrow.
Who ever has all the time they need or want in a day? Time always appears to fly by and leave us wondering where it all went. There is time to write if you make time to write.
3. Physical exhaustion
I'm too tired. Exhausted. I don't want to even move.
This excuse is that simple. After working all day or catching up on chores and commitments on the weekends, I am often just flat tired. I forget that a tired brain is more creative.
2. Mental exhaustion
Please be quiet. No, I don't want to chit chat about my day. I'll break my phone if it doesn't stop ringing. I need quiet. A few minutes to rest my brain. Some time to myself. Yes, a few hours all alone.
I call this an introvert's exhaustion. I am a very introverted person who is in a line of work that requires constant interaction and communication with other people. My phone's always ringing. People are in and out of my office every ten minutes. I get no quiet during those 9 to 12 hour work days unless I am just completely lucky or find a place to be a hermit...until my phone rings again. When I get home, I want nothing to do with human interaction until I've had a while to recharge. I am without a doubt that introvert who feels mental and physical exhaustion after too much social interaction. I could use this excuse every day of my life, but I know I need to channel that "me" time into my writing.
1. Writer's Block
I'm stuck. I don't know where to go from here. That was completely ridiculous [delete]. Why am I even trying? I know I've seen that cursor blink for an hour now.
I know many people may not agree with me on this, but I find I use writer's block as an excuse. When I have "writer's block" and sit staring blankly at my laptop screen, I know that it is because I just don't want to write. I'm not in the mood or in the right frame of mind.

Writing is difficult. I have my own high standards to meet while hoping I am creating a work that others will appreciate and enjoy. I know that if I would just get started, it would flow just like it always does, but I don't want to start. I'm tired. I've worked all day. Aubie needs a bath. There's a game on. My brain's fried. I think I'll go to bed...I promise to write for a couple hours tomorrow.

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