10 Excuses Every Writer Makes

by Alex Weiss

As a writer, you have a pocketful of excuses you tell yourself on the regular about why you don’t need to actually write today. Let's hear them: Work was too stressful, you didn't sleep enough last night, and the cat needs attention. It's easy to start writing, but keeping up the pace is the tricky part. Whatever reason it is, you find a way to talk yourself out of finishing that short story, essay, chapter, or poem. Because why would you write something amazing when you can do three loads of laundry?

At the end of the day, I usually laugh at the exaggerated excuses I come up with to ignore my personal goal to write 500 or so words that day. I envy my writer friends on social media who post their daily word counts (which is usually something crazy like 5,239) and then make it even worse by telling myself I can't compare to them. Although this thought only lasts for a few minutes, it can be hard to shake off for anyone struggling with her writing. The thing to keep in mind is not to compare yourself, and that your story is pretty freaking awesome.

You can make up some strange reasons not to sit at your comfy desk with a cup of coffee and work on your masterpiece. When the plot isn't working, or you don't know what happens next, it's too easy to walk away from your computer. Every writer does it. And here, my fellow writers, are some of the silliest excuses to get yourself out of writing:

1. You Think Watching An Episode Of <Insert Favorite TV Show Here> Will Inspire You

When you’re struggling with world-building or character development, you fall into this trap and think that watching one episode of Game of Thrones or Doctor Who would help so much more than actually writing. It's a lazy way of saying, "I don't feel like writing right now, but if I tell myself this counts as research I can get away with it."

It’s almost too easy not to get away with this one. If you’re looking for a cure, allow yourself breaks like this, but make sure you stick to one episode and get back to the writing right after.

2. You Convince Yourself Researching Counts As Work

Research is a mandatory process for every style of writing, but all too often the Internet takes over and research is no longer beneficial. Sometimes my research on a character's particular name meaning or what zero gravity is actually like turns into checking Twitter or taking an online quiz on what type of potato I am.

The Internet, in this case, becomes a black hole. It sucks you in and makes you forget your original purpose. The best way of battling this problem is giving yourself a timed amount of research, or waiting until you're done writing to look things up.

3. You Must Have Writer's Block Even Though You Know It Doesn't Exist

You can tell yourself that you have writer's block all you want, but in reality, you are perfectly capable of writing down words. Try writing out your grocery list or words that rhyme with thyme. If you trick yourself into the inability to write, getting back to it can be incredibly difficult.

Your inspiration might be running low, so instead of forcing yourself to write, do something that inspires your creativity. Always remember that you have to write really sh*tty first drafts to get to the good stuff.

4. You'll Never Be As Good As So And So

This happens when you're reading a really fantastic book and the writing blows your mind. Then you think, Well, I'll clearly never be as good as her, so what's the point? This is where a friend usually comes in to remind you that yes, you won't write like them, but that you write like you and you should continue writing.

Let me be that friend to you in case this happens to you — your writing is great. Your writing is yours. Remember that all great authors also felt this way. OK, cheesy inspirational moment over.

5. You Believe Your Story Stinks

Stephen King threw Carrie in the trash. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was rejected loads of times before it was accepted. This is an easy excuse to get you neglecting your hard work that is actually really good.

If you truly believe this, try taking a step away from it for a few days or weeks until you gradually fall back in love with it. And if that doesn't work, start something new. Stories don't work if you aren't passionate about them, and it's OK to put one aside if it's not exciting to write anymore.

6. Your Day Job Wears You Out

For a lot of writers, day jobs are a necessity. By the time you get home from a long day at the office, the last thing you want to do is stare at another computer screen and be forced to work more. I get it. Authors who made it big also had tiring day jobs.

A good way to to get around this is making writing a priority. Wake up a half hour earlier and get a little bit of writing in before the day starts, or stay up a little later and write that scene that you've been wanting to write all week. Turning writing into a personal and fun priority will make it easier to fit into your schedule.

7. Your Grocery List Suddenly Sounds Exciting

There’s no better excuse than having to feed yourself, because without a well-rounded meal of Ramen and Ben & Jerry’s you clearly can’t write. This also includes doing laundry, dishes, and cleaning that corner of the room that seems to always gather more dust than the rest.

Getting your life in order makes it seem like your story will also get itself in order, which usually isn’t the case. Remember: writing is much more fulfilling than dusting.

8. You Miss Your Friends

This is a legitimate excuse and with writing being a solitary job, you need to keep your friends close. Especially the ones who understand your writer quirks and love you for them. However, make sure you aren't using their invite to ignore your writing. Otherwise you'll just end up taking over the conversation with your character and story problems.

Sometimes you have to say no to that second drink, and head home to spend that extra time with your characters.

9. You Just Really Need A Nap

That might be true... But if you let that quick nap turn into four hours and it’s suddenly dark outside it's hard to convince yourself to get out of bed.

Naps are good, naps are beautiful, but to a certain extent.

10. You’re Terrified Of Finishing Your Story

This one is for the writer's who have battled all the excuses above (and many more) enough times to produce a nearly finished first draft. It’s a huge accomplishment! You should treat yourself to some fro-yo soon. By this point, though, you aren't sure if you’re ready for it to be done. And if you are, writing the end is almost always the most difficult part.

Either way, putting it off becomes a hobby you’re exceptionally talented at. The only solution here is to just do it. Write the ending even if it’s crappy because you have the very long and tedious process of rewriting to look forward to which comes with a whole new set of excuses.

Images: Chapendra/flickr, Giphy (11)