Every November, thousands of writers are deep into NaNoWriMo. And now in July there’s Camp NaNoWriMo. All of these writers have been spurred into action by the call of writing a whole novel in one month. They’ve made a firm decision to set aside the excuses and meet the challenge head on.
What I find interesting about this is hunkering down to seriously write and finish a project can be done at any time in the year. It’s as if NaNo gives writers an excuse to do what they’ve wanted to for so long. During these challenges, writers find time they didn’t have before. Suddenly they’re telling their families and friends to steer clear and the Do Not Disturb signs are popping up on every home office door across the country. They’re inspired, they’re renewed. The Muse has come calling on her Purple Pony.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Whatever gets you writing is good. But why wait for a contest to grant you permission? Can you imagine if you had the ability to crank out a whole first draft every month? Wow. That’s 12 whole books a year!
Alright, that’s a little out there. A first draft does not a finished book make…but you could definitely increase your productivity by ignoring the excuses you’ve made yourself believe for every other month except November and July.
The Eight Common Excuses Why Writers Don’t Write:
- I’m wasting my time. My book stands no chance in hell of selling, why am I bothering? Oh really? Geez, with an attitude like that, why bother doing anything? You never know until you try. True, your book won’t be an overnight success. There’s no such thing as that. It’s an illusion created by the media. Most authors have been marketing their books for YEARS before they become a huge hit. You stand as much of a chance as anyone else…as long as you’re willing to put in the time and work to get there.
- I don’t have the talent. Do you not have the talent or do you not have enough technical training? Take some courses in creative writing. Learn the craft and how to tell a story. Learn the proper use of grammar. Just LEARN. You may have talent and not know it because all you’re seeing are your faults. Seek out a professional for an assessment. Or ask us.
- I don’t know how to get started. Again, a little learning and mentoring can go a long way to help you get over this. There are a lot of tricks and tips for organizing your story before you start. Some writers like to start with detailed outlines, others simply start by knowing how the story begins and ends. Other times it all starts with a character concept. Stop thinking so hard and just let it happen.
- I don’t have an agent. Really? I don’t either. Neither does Wendi. That didn’t stop us from writing Loyalties. Whether or not to have an agent wasn’t discussed until the book was nearly finished. In the end, we decided we didn’t want one right now. An agent isn’t mandatory. You can self-publish if you choose and get an agent later.
- I can’t make it perfect. If you’re trying to make your novel perfect right from the first draft, forget about it. This is the stage where most Big Ideas start to unravel. You’re thinking too hard about writing instead of just telling the story. First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect. Your first draft is a massive brain dump. Let it all out, get it on paper first then go back and organize it. It’s okay, you have permission to just write.
- I have writer’s block. No you don’t. Writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s something we tell ourselves we have because we’re worrying over all the other excuses rolling around in our heads.
- My idea’s been done before. Has it? Welcome to the club. So has everyone else’s. There’s nothing new under the sun, it’s only new because we haven’t experienced it yet. There are plenty of people out there who may have heard the idea before, but they haven’t heard it the way YOU have to say it. Think about that. Are there a bizillion stories out there about werewolves and vampires? Yes. But…no one has heard it the way you tell it. Step up, show the world what you’ve got. Put your spin on it and I guarantee you, you’ll find an audience who likes the way you say it.
- I don’t have time. Nope. Sorry. Not buying it. My mom always said if you want to do something badly enough, you’ll make the time for it. NaNoWriMo is a prime example of this. You have the time and you can do it. It may take longer than you want, but who’s setting the deadline here? Unless you’re under contract (with an agent!) to get a book done, the only limitations you have are the ones you set for yourself. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get the book done and take baby-steps to reach that goal.
Now that all of the excuses have been blown up, why aren’t you writing yet? What’s your biggest excuse? Tell us in the comments, we’ll help you find a solution.