In the spirit of adding value to the internet (and not merely thieving someone else’s value in the form of their pictures all the time. Love you, pixabay!), I took some photos a while back in hopes they would make good book-ish pictures for the ol’ blog:
…because Gad only knows the one thing the internet needs is more pictures.
What makes these glamor shots of the fancy journal and the old-fashioned pen there-on kind of hysterical is that the inside of the journal looks like this:
…and has looked like this for two or more years.
I very nearly wrote a memo to myself on page 2 along the lines of…
…but I couldn’t actually bring myself to write it in the book! I was too frightened of putting pen to paper.
Therefore, in attempt to help ease the paralysis felt by my fellow authors and I when it comes to putting words on the page, here are 7 excuses we use to put off writing our books and what makes them bogus.
- I’ll do it when I have time. Nah, man. Writing is like working out, having kids, or going to Ireland. If you wait until you have time, you’ll never do it. When we care about a thing, we make time for it, yes?
- There’s no hurry to write my book. I’m still young, yet. Yuh-huh. No car accidents, heart attacks, or unseen calamity in YOUR future, eh? Did you know there are powerful, quotable works left unfinished because their writers went to Auschwitz midway through writing their books (Irene Nemirovsky‘s Suite Franceise is likely not the only book of its kind. Its just the one that broke my heart when I learned why it was never finished)? I’d love for nothing so severe to happen in our lifetimes, fellow writer, but we should never assume the dreadful, world-shattering events can’t happen to us.
- I’ll never make any money at it. Plausible. Runaway success as a writer is super rare. Then again, so is making money on a hobby. If you’re one of the lucky few who can make a living with your books, fantastic. If you’re not, what did it cost you, a little paper, time, and ink? You wouldn’t expect to make money on a golfing, fishing, or sky diving habit. Why put that kind of pressure on your writing?
- I’m afraid I’ll fail. Also plausible. Failure is an expensive and necessary part of the “try, try again,” mentality most authors require to get a book in print. One recovering failure to another, I’ve kept consistently kept my lights on by learning from my mistakes and doing my best not to make the same mistake twice. Granted, my books are not heralded as signs of the second coming of Terry Pratchett or anything. But between the writing and the “day job,” my loved ones and I still eat well enough, we have to worry about getting fat.
- What if no one likes my book? Um, do you like your book? If you do, start there. Learn to habitually speak and write about your book with confidence in a variety of settings. If you’ve ever gone to a trade show (a comic convention, a book fair, or something like that), you know the guy or gal who gets the most sales is not the one with the best book. Its the guy or gal with the smarm, charm, eye-contact, and enthusiasm for his product that wins the day. If you love your book, and you’re not shy about it, you will inspire others to love it with you. I promise.
- I’m not good enough, yet. Bad news first: your first book will almost certainly suck. It’s not your fault. There’s just a lot to learn about publishing biz -self-pub and traditional – that you won’t master until you’ve gotten a couple titles under your belt. Even if your first book is fantastic, five years from now, you’ll be a new human with a new writing style, and your first book to you will be to you what the portrait in the attic was to Dorian Gray: bedraggled, poorly aged, and a part of you that you wish you could destroy. Or if against all odds you look back and love your first book, you’ll wish the publisher had listened to you on various aspects of the formatting and the editor had left your favorite lines uncorrected and perfect the way you wrote them. Good news: Your first book is likely not your last book. Hold on. Future you will have more to say about different, grander things than the you of today.
- I’m not inspired. How can I write when I have nothing to say? Here’s where I disagree with almost all the writing experts on earth. Their best advice is “Write anyway.” I totally understand why they think this thing. A daily writing habit is admirable. It helps us meet deadlines and stay relevant. However, I have 2 gripes with the “write anyway” school of thought. 1) Quantity is not now nor will it ever be better than quality. I know retirees who have rhymed words on paper every day for 10 years and think they’re poets. They are not poets, and they have not in any way made efforts to be better writers in those 10 years of faithfully putting words on paper. So they don’t get better. 2) Those who advocate the writing of more books over fewer, better books are some of the first to cry, “Hey-ho! Woe is me! The book market is over-saturated with less-than-life-changing work, and my magnum opus shall therefore have less impact on its target audience.” Do you think there’s a connection between encouraging writers to write things they don’t care about and the current market saturation? Maybe a little? There’s nothing wrong with the writing of many books that take up space someone’s shelf, and what works for me will not work for all authors. For me, the writing frenzies start when I find something I care about, and the obsessive parts of my brain turns it into a story over then next few weeks. So, maybe the trick is to do cool things, read good books, and have stimulating conversation on a regular basis? Then, we’d care about something all the time, so a daily writing habit might lead to better AND more frequent books.
Anyway, those are 7 excuses for not writing and my best shot at their 7 rebuttals. If I missed some, please, oh please, let me know in the comments section. Creative writers should have quite the epic excuses for why they can’t write, and I’d be privileged to read any I didn’t think of.