Too often, writers talk themselves out of achieving their dreams — even before they’ve given themselves a fighting chance at success.
Here are 5 Common Writer Excuses (And how to combat them)
1. “I don’t have the time to write.”
Well, who does? We all get the same 24 hours each day. It doesn’t matter how much time you take up with your job, your family, or with other obligations. If you really want to be a writer, you’ll carve out the time to dedicate to your craft. You’ll eliminate those time wasters like watching TV, surfing the web, reading the newspaper, or lapsing into Facebook fog. I’ll bet you can find at least 30 minutes a day that you can use to write. And sometimes, that’s all you need to make real progress on your book. For more specific tips on how to make the most of each day to work toward becoming an author, check out my blog post on Making Time to Write.
2. “I don’t have the talent.”
What is talent, anyway? Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
With writing, it’s all about revision — the more you trim, rearrange, and polish your work, the better it will be. And, the better chance YOU have to rise from the ashes of your first frustrating drafts as a better writer. It may seem tedious, but take it from an editor who has scrutinized hundreds of manuscripts, written over 200 articles, and personally coached dozens of authors over the years — learning to push past the revision process is what transforms writers into authors. Analyzing pieces of writing for everything from the clarity of its message to the beauty of its prose has definitely made MY own writing better over the years. Don’t give up, and embrace your craft. Check out some specific tips on how to refine your editor’s eye (and ultimately, flourish as an experienced writer), in our post: 5 Steps to Become Your Own Best Editor.
And, remember this: do you think you would have been given the desire to do something you have no talent for? Personally, I don’t think God — or the universe — would be that cruel. What may be obvious to you can be amazing to others — as long as you aren’t afraid to hold back.
3. “I don’t have the support.”
Sadly, many aspiring authors don’t have the support of loved ones. Many people out there view book writing, or the dream of becoming a published author, as a hobby instead of a true path in life. If this is the case for you, it’s critical to seek out others who will support you in your writing, who will cheer you on, who will read your early drafts and will give you helpful feedback.
If there are no writing groups in your community, the Internet has made these support systems easier to find than ever before. Two wonderful online writing communities I’ve come to love are She Writes and WOW! Also, the rich abundance of writing, editing, and publishing professionals I’ve found on Twitter has convinced me that no matter what your goals are, you’re sure to find someone out there who shares your perspective.
If the people you live with are not supportive, sit them down and explain how important writing is to you, and that if they give you the space and encouragement you need, you will be much happier. Also, listen to their concerns. Work out a plan with them, so that they can be assured that their needs are being met, and you can be assured that your needs as a writer are being met. It’s crucial to know you’re all on the same page.
Often, when people aren’t supportive, they think that your writing is going to take up their time with you. However, if it’s important that you need help with certain chores that would instead encroach on your writing time, make your needs known. If you make the effort to sit down with your family, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll all reach a balance.
4. “I’m afraid I’ll fail.”
What does “failure” mean to you? This may come as a surprise to many, but I view failure as an essential component of success. While it may seem that writing a bestseller or getting a book contract is akin to winning the lottery, I assure you that those authors who succeeded had many failures leading up to their big break. The difference between them and someone who allows rejection to dictate their reality is that they learned from their mistakes, applied what they learned to their writing, and persisted.
Perhaps my favorite rejection-to-success story is Stephen King’s. We all know King’s work; he’s made a huge mark on literature, film, and popular culture. But, did you know that he received over two dozen rejections before making it big?
There’s really only one way to fail: play it safe. Creativity requires risk, and risk often leads to failure — at least initially. But, what matters is what you do after your manuscript has been rejected, or your critique has come back with more negatives than positives.
Take it from me — don’t play it safe. Strive to make your story heard, and the world may reward you.
5. “I don’t have the money.”
Certainly, you can spend an enormous amount of money pursuing your dream of becoming an author. The mind-boggling prospect of budgeting your bank account for anything from copy editors to creative writing classes to book cover designers can make even the most extravagant of spenders feel overwhelmed. The key, however, is to ask yourself: If money were not an issue, would you still want to pursue your dream of becoming an author?
Another factor is how wisely you do spend. It makes no sense, for instance, to spend thousands of dollars on a publicity campaign for a book that has not been professionally edited. Take it step by step. Spending money to have a manuscript copy edited before if you even know if the story is well developed is like putting the finishing touches on a wedding cake before it’s even baked. It’s a mess. However, investing your resources with a true professional who knows how to get your work where it needs to be and is invested in helping you — now that’s money well spent.
If you were to add up all of the impulse purchases you’ve made over the years — even from when you were a teenager — you might be horrified at how it all mounted up. And, have all of those purchases really changed your life? Here’s a quick tip: Examine your life to determine if anything you do to procrastinate writing your book is costing you money. For instance, are you avoiding outlining your novel by watching cable television? Perhaps cancel your cable subscription, and use that money to invest in your future as a serious author.
Good luck and Happy Writing!