Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Don't Think, Just Write

"Thinking is the enemy of creativity. You must simply do things." --Ray Bradbury

For years, I thought a lot about writing. In grade school, I allowed myself to be immersed in my craft. I wrote stories, poems, songs, and even jokes constantly. My elementary school allowed us to write and bind our own books, and the books were given a place in the library where our classmates could check them out. A writer-in-residence came to my 4th grade classroom and asked us to write poems. Mine was one of many published in an anthology. I placed in the "Young Author's" contest.

And then, right around the same time I quit swinging in the playground for the pure joy of it, I became shy about my writing. I almost stopped completely.

Sure, I kept a diary for all of those years. And although I remember the struggles of my family, my own straining self-esteem and all of the memoir-worthy happenings that took place in that time, those diary pages hardly reflect any of it. Instead, there were scribblings of a flighty adolescent; I skimmed over details of devastating crushes and "best-friend-forever" angst.

I had a fascination with Emily Dickinson, whose writing was discovered when she was no longer around to have to defend it in any way. I thought about being a writer. I wanted people to read what I wrote. But the more I thought about it, the more I avoided writing anything real. Even in the pages of the diaries I kept hidden away in my room.

In high school, I tried my best to write exquisite essays that would make my teachers jump for joy and call their colleagues together to celebrate the talent in their midst. But how creative can a writer be with an introductory-paragraph-ending-with a thesis-statement-that would encompass-the-first-line-of each of the following-supporting-paragraphs ? Ugh. The funnel method of essay writing seemed to squeeze out any flavor that may have come through otherwise.

Still, I thought about being a real writer, despite the fact I was hardly writing anything at all outside of school. I was sure inspiration would hit me and I would be off and writing. Soon.

I joined the school newspaper. I thought was ready to use the written word to speak my mind. I researched in-school suspension, sure that there was inhumane treatment happening behind those cardboard desk dividers. I attempted to eradicate the stigma of heavy metal and it's lyrics in the dawning of PMRC's Parental Advisory stickers. But too soon, the deadlines stressed me out. And the 7AM Saturday required paste-up ran me out. I didn't want to work, I wanted to write. I thought there was a difference. I quit the paper.

No matter. I would still be a writer.

After High School.

Um, ok. After College, then.

Or, once I felt secure in my Career, for sure. I would write on the weekends!

When I get a new computer...

When I have time to take a writing workshop...

For decades, I made excuses not to write, at least not right now. I became an Excuses Expert. I knew exactly how to rationalize away the dreams I'd had since I was a little girl.

But still I was so... thirsty for it. An unlimited glass of water was right in front of me, but I kept telling myself that I should wait for juice. I was sure that the crisp clear water wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be. It couldn't be that easy. I couldn't write yet-- I still needed to study more, find more time...

… … ETC. … ...

But one day, something Clicked.

I had enough of being so parched all of the time. I reached out and took a big, long, drink.

I started writing. Finally.

I discovered that when I start, None of the excuses matter.

By stopping The Thinking About Writing, and starting The Writing, I'd begun to edit my own excuses. I became the Excuse Editor.

And that's why I started this blog. To help you Edit your Excuses, too.

Here, I will focus on the excuses writers use to keep them from writing, and I will dismantle them, one by one. Feel free to leave a comment with Your Best Excuse. You could see it Edited in a future post.

As the Excuse Editor, I will also offer Encouragement to keep you writing-- with tips, products, newsletters, and information. Start following, so you can Start (and Keep) Writing!


  1. Very inspiring. I found my own excuses in there. I realized how often I could write if I'd just sit down and get to it. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks, Paula. I believe it was in Ron Carlson's book,"Ron Carlson Writes a Story", where I got the best lesson. "Stay in the Room!" Sometimes we let ourselves get distracted by other things. Even in college, when I had a paper due, my dorm room would be spotless, because when I procrastinated, I cleaned!


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