“The most unprofitable item ever manufactured is an excuse.”
When it comes to writing — or more to the point, not writing — we all have our own personal array of excuses in our couldn’t-get-to-it quiver. When I pull mine out and look them over, they seem to be a motley bunch. Over time, with the help of my own drive and words of wisdom from my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline (973.743.4690), I’ve come up with ways to combat them.
In the hope that admitting all this freely is part of writing dangerously — and that talking about it might be liberating for me and helpful to you — I’m pondering in print my three biggest personal excuses for not writing and offer some ideas on how I send them packing.
Excuse #1: I don’t have time — Time management isn’t a core strength of mine by any stretch of the imagination. That’s why it’s very easy for me to end up doing a lot of dinky, time-frittering tasks at the expense of what should be my top priority: writing. To combat this tendency, my strategy is this: I group all these little jobs together and tackle them early in the day because being a night owl, it takes me a while to get my motor going. After I clear the decks, I can focus on my writing for an intense period.
Excuse #2: I don’t feel like it — This is a common lament, I know, and I’m as prone to it as the next person. When it comes up, I remember what my friend Coach Mike Tully said once: “Act in accordance with your vision, not your feelings,” and what Rob Gilbert always says: “Motion will change your emotions, action will change your attitude.” So I start moving: getting my paper out, pulling out my draft, firing up my computer — whatever I need to do to signal to myself that it’s time to get going.
Excuse #3: I’m too tired — A fitful or sleepless night can really flummox me. If I’m low on energy, I feel down. I’ve found the best thing to do is to fight through it, to keep working even at low ebb. If I stay at it, I often get a second wind and start sailing.
What are your strategies for keeping yourself on track? I’d love to hear them. Write on!