September 5, 2014

Slaying the Excuse Monster

By Susan A J Lyttek

Life’s busy. I get that. But a writer without time to write is not a writer.

I say that as much to myself as to anyone who might read this post. If we let ourselves, we can get pulled six ways to Sunday and never get a word on paper. There are so many good, necessary, fun and worthwhile things to do in life. Most of them don’t involve writing.

Unless we pull out the hermit card and isolate ourselves from the world, we will be subject to other demands on our time and energy. If we don’t feel like writing, these other demands give us handy excuses not to write.

Excuse #1 I don’t have time to write. 
OK, this does actually happen. The big events in life: birth, death, marriage, divorce and so on can use up all our time for a season. But more often than not, we let time get filled up and stolen away from us. If we say ‘yes’ too often to good things to help others or allow ourselves to become vital and essential to some non-writing activity, it will use up our time. Our culture, too, gives us myriad ways to entertain ourselves and waste time that way. I’ve recently started setting a timer when I play a game on my Kindle. They can become addictive!

Excuse #2 I don’t have the energy to write.
Again, this can occur. Illness or a season of high demands at your ‘real’ job can leave you zapped and unable to put words on paper. However, we tend to say this on a routine basis and the more often it gets said, the more the attitude and the tiredness confirm the feeling. To reignite your enthusiasm, read something you wrote that you’re proud of. Then remember to pay your writing muse first. If at all possible, start the day by writing something, anything. Ten minutes of writing regularly works better than two hours of cramming once a year.

Excuse #3 I don’t have anything to write.
Really? Did you open your eyes this morning? What did you see? Did you have a dream last night? What was it about? When I say this, what I mean is that I’m overwhelmed by fear. If I undertake a new idea, if I work on a project I love, there’s always the chance that it will fail. As we live and breathe in the human world, writers will naturally get ideas. If fear stymies you, take a deep breath. Then take up your pen or your laptop and write something. Most of what we write exercises our writer muscles and either will never see print or will take massive editing to get there. So don’t take yourself so seriously. Relax and follow the muse that speaks to you now.

Today, I wrote this among other things. 

Tomorrow, I will need to fight the excuses and challenge myself again. 

What have you written today?
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of newly released kids’ comedy, Guzzy Goofball and the Homeschool Play from Outer Space and the cozy mysteryHomeschooling Can Be Murder by Harbourlight Books, wife and homeschool mother of two teenage sons, writes early mornings in the shadow of our nation’s capital. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers online through Write At Home, and by teaching middle and high school co-op classes. The mystery sequel Killer Field Trip  released August 2014. You can find out more about her at


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