Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today's Excuse: Virginia Woolf was right, I don't have what I need to be a writer

It's been almost one hundred years since Virginia Woolf said, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write...". We still fall back onto this antiquated excuse. We don't allow ourselves to write because we focus on the material things we think are necessary for a writer: a desk, the latest computer, maybe even an MFA. Getting all of those things cost money, so we focus on making the money so someday we can buy the things we need to write. So we work for money, but we don't write because we feel that our time would be better spent doing "real work". That way, we can save money for an extended vacation where we will sit on the beach, writing our Great American Novel longhand, or we will rent a cabin in the mountains and our poetry will be inspired by the majestic trees reaching to the sky. After all, everyone knows we need a big space and a fat bank account to write, right?

“Everybody knows it because Virginia Woolf said it... But I’ve written five books, edited three anthologies, published hundreds of articles and short stories, and put out thirty-five issues of my zine without either one. If I’d waited for money and a room, I’d still be an unpublished welfare mom…” --Ariel Gore
Excuse Editor Tips: Print your Own Money, Break in to your New Room
  • Be your own Mint: Your writing has a worth that transcends money. By creating more and more, you are becoming wealthy with words. Focus on the creation, the fine tuning of your own currency. Print out your writing as payment for a job well done. Edit your writing with a counterfeiter's precision so that others will see your creation's true worth. Be generous with your Written Currency. Send it out often so its exchange rate becomes comparable with the money in your wallet. You will feel better about spending your time writing if you give yourself a chance to earn money from it.
  • Breach your own Borders:  Your room is unlimited, every place you find yourself is your writing space. The busy library, crowded bookstore or energetic coffee shop can become a room of your own, just with visitors. Feed off the energy of these real-life characters if today's writing area happens to be standing room only. Tomorrow, your room could be at your kitchen table, with only your cup of coffee to keep you company. Claim that room as well. Your pen and notebook bestow titles to a constant stream of Writing Properties. Now you are a Writing Room Mogul.
Have you ever resisted writing something because you were waiting for the perfect conditions? Have you ever had the "perfect conditions" (time, money, place to write, brand new computer) and still had trouble? Or, have you been surprised by your creative muse showing up in the worst circumstances you could imagine? Tell me about it...


  1. I have the same quote from Ariel on my blog and I keep it in mind when I think "if only I had (blank), I'd be a successful writer."

    Thanks for stopping by Medusa's Muse and leaving a comment. I've added your blog to my blogroll. Really great info.

  2. Terena-Thanks for stopping by! I may have seen that quote on your blog and used it for inspiration, not sure, lol. Not having (blank) was my biggest excuse for a very long time. And yes, some of those things are Nice to have, but not Necessary.
    I've been trying to get into running lately, despite my (2nd!) mp3 player being broken. Music is a great motivator for running, but I don't NEED it to run. And sometimes, I'm pleasantly surprised at what I would have missed if I would've been lost in those beats-- the crunching of leaves below my feet, a chorus of unexpected bird calls. Whatever you have, right then, is what you need.

  3. I make up a million excuses every day not to write. It's terrible.


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