Q: “I recently wrote a first draft of my novel and then an unillustrated children’s book. I have tons of ideas for more than ten novels. These characters and stories speak through me every day and my biggest thing is I make excuses and do not honor my gift and in a way that affects me more than anything else. I am not sure if it is fear of failing and not being successful or if it is just pure laziness. I know in my heart this is what I have been called to do yet I do nothing about it. How do I kill that nagging sense of fear and honor the voice of reason?”
How to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing
The tricky thing about answering this question is that it’s different for everyone! That is, what works to motivate me as a writer may not work for you, and vice versa.
When I wrote 73 Ways to Fire Up (or Just Fire!) the Muse, I interviewed dozens of writers, journalists, novelists, bloggers, and even journalism professors for their best tips for being a productive writer. My goal in writing that ebook was to provide a wide range of tips for people who want to write, but lack motivation.
One of the most interesting strategies in that ebook is to give someone $100, and have them “pay” you $5 every time you write a pre-ordained number of pages, or if you write for a pre-ordained set of time. You’ll earn back your money, which may be the motivation you need to stop making excuses and start writing!
Another way to increase your productivity is to hire a “book doctor”, or solicit an accountability partner. You could meet weekly with him or her, and be honest about the number of pages you’ve written over the past week. Or, join a writer’s group – or start one (read 7 Tips for Starting a Writers’ Group – Writing Alone, Together).
Perhaps the key to writing more is to figure out what’s holding you back, which you mentioned in your question. Are you making excuses because you lack self-discipline, or because you fear success? Are you simply lazy, or are there deeper issues going on? Maybe it’s a combination of both.
To stop making excuses and keep writing, you need to try different strategies until you find what works for you. You need to figure out what motivates you. I’m motivated to write by money. I like to earn a living from writing. Others are motivated by bringing characters alive, creating stories where none existed before, or entertaining readers. Still others are motivated by reading their stories to kids, or posting their words online.
Many writers have found Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages to be the best way to stay focused and disciplined to write — read The Artist’s Way. It’s excellent because it’s both practical and philosophical/spiritual, and thus serves all types of writers.
I don’t know what will motivate you to write; that’s something you need to experiment with until you find the golden ticket. For ideas, read No Motivation to Write? 10 Ways to Write More Words Than You Can Edit.
And if you have any tips for people who need to know how to stop making excuses and start writing, please share below!