Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elect to Vote Out Your Writing Excuses

Excuse Editor began when I stepped back and started paying attention to the dialogue going on in my own head about all things “Writing”. I was shocked at the misinformation, false conclusions, and all-or-nothing rhetoric I was feeding myself. It was like my mind was taken over by a political super-pac in an election year.  Problem was, like an ill-informed voter, I was making decisions about my writing life based on this nonsense. I had to take a critical view of all this fluff, make myself a fact checker of my own superstitions. 

And sometimes I had to laugh. Because struggling through the writing life can be full of a lot of baloney.

Bunch of Baloney Bullet Points:

  • Writing is a Job Killer

o   For years, I told myself that I could not write and hold a non-writing job as well.  If I held a title from 9-5, I argued with myself, that’s who I was. I couldn’t try and be something else. Writing was something I would have to do AS a job in order to be a “real writer”.
o   BALONEY:  The 9-5 may make you caught up in titles, business cards, and formality. Fine. Go to your local office supply store or vistaprint and make yourself some cards. Give yourself a title: Writer. Are you a “real writer” now? Nope. Get back to your computer and start writing. Before work, after work, at lunch. THAT makes you a writer.

  • Creating a Suitable Writing Environment is Cost Prohibitive

o   To do this thing I enjoy, this writing that makes me breathe easier, that I hope will somehow last for years and years, I have to starve. This was my mentality. The starving artist stigma was alive and well and living rent free in my brain.
o   BALONEY:  See the preceding point.  Especially when starting out, writing doesn’t have to be your only source of income.  Use your talents from the past and work on what you know, while you start to write about what you know.  Sure, you may have to cut back on some of the things you think you need. Write about it. Don’t worry if you don’t have the money to do the things you want to do, instead, use that time to WRITE. Telling yourself you can’t write because you can’t afford it is not only an excuse, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Write when you aren’t at your day job. Write to find a writing job. Write to create your own work.
  •      You MUST be Left or Right

o   Fiction? Nonfiction? Serious? Funny? YOU MUST CHOOSE. If you are writing serious commentary about the state of the world, using facts and figures to support your stance, you can’t just all of a sudden decide to write a young adult comedy about space aliens.  People would call you a Flip-flopper, for sure. Right?
o   BALONEY:  The creative process has room for all parts of your brain: left, right and all those crazy synapses racing in between.  As humans, we have the grand chance to ponder different ideas and the opportunity to guide our thoughts. As writers, we owe it to ourselves to explore it all when it occurs to us. We may come up with the next Big Idea, or an Unforgettable, Fantastic Novel.

I hope in this political season, you are using your skills and judgment to deal with all of the information flowing your way.  But I wish even more that you are able to discover some inspiration between the sound bites for your writing: whether it’s a political thriller or a scene playing out on election night, you can use these sometimes stranger than fiction headlines to your advantage.

Happy Writing!


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  1. Great post! I love that you themed it with election language. It's definitely scary to start writing, but once you get going, it's great!

  2. Ha! Love this! We can come up with a mountain of excuses or we can just write.

    I recommend your site all the time. The newsletter is invaluable.

  3. Excuses won't get you anywhere. :) Great article! BTW, Theresa Milstein sent me to you.


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