Excuses are a way of rationalizing our own laziness or unwillingness to do things.
Photo Credit: Dom J
You know exactly what I am talking about when I mention excuses, right? You sit down in the late evening and suddenly you think that it is a little too late to start writing and you are better off doing it tomorrow. It is Thursday and you want to start working on a new piece, but you start to make excuses that you are better of starting fresh at the beginning of next week. You cough a little and you decided that you should better rest instead of writing to not get seriously ill. The list goes on.
What is the result? We aren’t doing our work and to not feel bad we make excuses.
We all make excuses
Now don’t worry too much if this hits a little too close to home, you are not alone. There have been countless times when I just didn’t want to write and suddenly I couldn’t do it for various reasons. I had to go out with friends, I wanted to watch a movie or I would provoke friends to call me in the evening to interrupt me from getting my writing done. I’d make all kinds of excuses and there was one thing I’ always tell myself:
‘Don’t worry about it, it is just one day.’
The problem was, that there was always another tomorrow and always more excuses to make. Even now I can think back to these weird days when I was always just a little too tired in the evening to write.
The worst kind of excuse
The worst thing with these excuses is that we start believing in them. They are plausible and rational enough to be true. When you are tired or feeling unwell you won’t be able to write as well as when you’d be completely rested.
To not sit down and write is the easy way out. Remember my own case that I mentioned above, it can easily become a habit to push things off further and further.
The worst excuse you can make is to tell yourself that you can just continue tomorrow. It is the most dreaded word for anyone who wants to get his work done or to make a new habit stick. The worst thing is, that it is one of the most believable excuses. What is one more day? Why should it matter?
The problem is that you might do the same thing the next day. That day you might not be tired, but you are invited to go out with friends. Again you push things off. With every day, you believe the lie a little more. Soon enough the word tomorrow turns into next week. This means often Game Over for any new habit.
So what do you do? Here are nine ways that can help you to stop making excuses and actually get your writing done:
1. Taking personal responsibility
We often blame others or our surroundings for not being able to write. We couldn’t write because friends came over, your significant other needed your help, or there was no way you’d miss the movie on TV and the list goes on. Instead of saying that it is not your fault, take responsibility. It is you who didn’t want to write and to make an effort of finding other things to do instead.
2. Review your excuses
Take a look at the most common excuses you make. If you always tell yourself you are too tired, then you might actually start writing too late in the evening and it would be better to write earlier. Make the necessary adjustments.
3. Don’t start too big
Take a look at your daily writing quota or time. Maybe you are trying to do too much? After a normal workday it might not be the best idea to force yourself to write for another two hours. Instead lower the number. Put the focus on assuring that you actually get your writing done. It is worth much more if you write 500 words per day than wanting to write 2000 and not getting them done.
4. Look back at your past success
Just look back at the last couple of days when you actually did your writing. How were you able to write yesterday? What changed so that you can’t muster up the energy to do it today? There is most likely no reason at all.
5. Don’t expect perfection
While you should always try to do your best work, at times it is just not possible. You have to accept the fact that on certain days the writing just won’t go well or you might not be at peak performance. On those days simply try to get your work done and last through it though. Remember that the first draft of everything is shit.
6. Remember why you write
When you notice that you are looking for an excuse to not get your writing done, ask yourself why it is you are writing. What is it you want to accomplish? What are your big goals? Do you really want to give up, because you are a little too tired?
7. Have measurable short-term goals
Getting published or writing a bestseller are great long term goals, but often they are too far away to motivate us to get our daily writing done. Instead you should have measurable short-term goals. For example trying to write 15.000 words per month would put you at about 500 words per day. You can do the same by saying you want to write each day for a specific time period without fail, for example two weeks. These goals are both measurable, not too hard to accomplish and they give you a sufficient enough motivation to keep going.
8. Visualize your success
Imagine what it will feel like once you have done your writing for the day. Think about how proud you can be of yourself after you put in this extra hour or these extra thirty minutes. You can also visualize yourself typing out ‘The End’, getting published or any other big goal you set for yourself.
9. Positive reinforcement
This is a very easy way that surprisingly many people completely forget. Whenever you start having doubts and want to make excuses about your writing, give yourself positive reinforcements.
If a thought like ‘Well it is pretty late already, maybe I should continue tomorrow’ comes to your mind, you should state out loud that ‘you can do it’. You should try to reword your excuses to make them positive. Instead of ‘I am tired, I can’t…’ tell yourself ‘I might be tired, but I can still…’ As easy as it sounds, it can be a viable way to get yourself motivated.
What it comes down to in the end is that you should take a close look at yourself and find out if you have a serious reason not to write, or if you are just looking for an easy way out.