From The Peter Pyramid by Laurence J. Peter, the top five excuses for not getting something done:
1. I thought it was in the mail.
2. I’m so busy I haven’t gotten around to it.
3. I didn’t know you were in a hurry for it.
4. You’ll have to wait until the supervisor returns.
5. I’m waiting for an OK.
Yes, I know. These are all business-related excuses — not quite relevant to the writing life. So here are three I’ve used myself that might hit home with you, along with simple ways to get past them.
1. I don’t feel like it: These five short syllables can be deadly. They can rob you of the discipline you need to get where you want to go with your writing. Antidote: Act differently than you feel. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Once you start writing, you’ll feel like writing. Feelings aren’t facts, they’re fleeting. Taking action chases them away. So don’t let a temporary feeling get in the way of what could be a terrific writing session. Push through the feeling like you’re pushing through the fog and the feeling will melt away in the sunshine of your creativity and resolve.
2. I’m too tired: Another writing robber! Sometimes we’re physically tired and sometimes we’re just mentally fatigued. Whatever the situation we’re dealing with, this excuse can dampen our enthusiasm. Antidote: Act enthusiastic and you’ll become enthusiastic; act energized and you’ll become energetic. What would your writing session be like if you were bursting with energy? Psyche yourself into feeling that way and you’re likely to find your fatigue fades, especially if it’s a sense of mental tiredness. Sometimes we’re just bored and unchallenged by what we’re doing — taking a break or pushing yourself harder instead of taking it easy can help.
3. This is too hard: We’ve all been there. We hit a rough patch in our writing and stop and when we come back to the page, it’s in our face. We get entangled in a plot problem, a character seems flat and unreal, our dialogue sounds like it came from a phone book. Whatever the problem it morphs into an excuse not to write. Antidote: Hemingway’s simple advice: Always stop at a point when you’re writing is going well, so when you pick up the thread the next time, you’ll be in a good frame of mind and it will be easier to keep going. And here’s a tip from my great friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert:* Don’t get frustrated, get fascinated! Get juiced and pumped up by the difficulty you face instead of letting it deflate you. Don’t quit before you start, get creative! Let the problem ignite your ingenuity.
Sound familiar? I know all these pesky little excuses well, because from time to time, I’ve let them stop me in my tracks. But with a little dose of will power and creativity, I’ve seen them melt away and gone on to have fruitful writing sessions — and you can do the same!
Don’t get frustrated, get fascinated — and write on!
* Check out Dr. Gilbert’s wonderful free Success Hotline: 973.743.4690.