30 Excuses for Why I “Can’t” Write Today

I’m tired of making excuses to myself. So in a fit of pique I scribbled out a list of all the reasons I can think of not to write.

These are transcribed exactly how I wrote them, questionable grammar and all.

1. It’s hard.
2. I can’t make a routine because of my shifts @ work.
3. I’ll never make a living at it. (why bother?)
4. My friends are humoring me.
5. I’ll probably get sued.
6. No one reads horror.
7. I’ll never get rich writing e-books.
8. The internet is more fun.
9. I need uninterrupted time and quiet and a thunderstorm or perfect Fall sunlight and…
10. Who do I think I am, anyway?
11. My ideas are stupid and no one has told me.
12. I don’t like to give up other things to make the time.
13. The tax forms are confusing.
14. It’s all been done before.
15. I can’t describe exactly what I see in my head.
16. I’m afraid of cliches.
17. I don’t have a proper editor and am probably making so many mistakes.
18. My office is messy.
19. I want the lifestyle but I don’t want to put in the work — I want it just to happen.
20. My job gets in my way.
21. It’ll just get stolen anyway.
22. There are a million other people doing the same thing as me at the same time as me.
23. I don’t have an English degree.
24. I’m already behind on The Plan.
25. It’s a pain to lug my laptop around.
26. I could write more at work if there was a table in the locker room for me to sit at.
27. I’m not great at networking.
28. I can’t concentrate.
29. What if I actually write a novel then hate it?
30. I’m scared.

Honestly, there are some thoughts on this list that I’m not especially proud of. But I’m glad I wrote it out: the whole list was written in only a couple of minutes, and it felt good to get it out of my system. I figured I’d post it here as a confession of sorts. There must be other (new) authors out there feeling at least some of these things.

Now that I see it in front of me, I can see how ridiculous some of these thoughts are, and how the “obstacles” that seemed so big are really just me being lazy or cowardly or…

Feel free to make whatever comments you’d like on this one: I’m having an introspective Let’s Get Real kind of moment. Do you share any of these feelings? What are your go-to excuses?

A Counterintuitive Solution

I figured out why I was having problems meeting my daily word quotas.

It wasn’t hard enough.

I’m a hugely competitive person, and I tend to only really enjoy things that at first seem insurmountable. Looking back, I think I set my initial word goals too low. I had decided on an arbitrary number, that I knew I could accomplish, so as not to get frustrated and give up.

Instead, the opposite happened: it was too easy to reach my goal, which made my subconscious decide it was not worth doing. Something done by rote becomes boring, and what’s the point of doing something boring?

Way to screw me, Brain.

SO: my solution is to increase the number of words I expect out of myself. I’ve set my new goal at nearly double what it was before, and it seems to be working. Suddenly my brain is processing it as Shit! That’s a lot of words! Better work harder! and the ideas are back. The numbers are back.

Since there’s a worry now that I can’t possibly reach my new goal every day, I have to try harder, which makes me focus more.

My tip of the day: write scared.

The 10 Types of Writers’ Block (and How to Overcome Them)

“Writer’s Block. It sounds like a fearsome condition, a creative blockage. The end of invention. But what is it, really?

Part of why Writer’s Block sounds so dreadful and insurmountable is the fact that nobody ever takes it apart. People lump several different types of creative problems into one broad category. In fact, there’s no such thing as “Writer’s Block,” and treating a broad range of creative slowdowns as a single ailment just creates something monolithic and huge. Each type of creative slowdown has a different cause — and thus, a different solution.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the terrifying mystique of Writer’s Block, it’s better to take it apart and understand it — and then conquer it.”

Find out how at i09.com

Writing Game: Get in Their Heads

Pick someone you loathe.

Come on, everyone has one. Yours could be someone famous, I suppose, whose morals or actions you disagree with. But that’s no fun. I want you to think of someone in your real life that drives you batshit. It could be a family member. A neighbour. That one woman at work whose voice makes you want to pull your own ears off so you can more easily stuff something, anything inside the holes and finally have some blessed silence.

I mean, if you know someone like that, you could use them for this game*.

Okay, so you’ve got your loathee picked out. Your job is to get into his or her head. What do they do at night? What’s their guilty pleasure? What’s in their bank account? How do they view themselves? What’s their secret? Set up shop and poke around a little.

Now experience an obstacle, as your loathee. The plumbing has burst, and there’s a jet of water shooting across the room. The car broke down, and the next paycheque isn’t due til next week. And by the way, that promotion went to someone else.
What does your loathee do? What are they thinking? What’s their mood like? Do they lay blame, and if so, on who?

You can play this game in two ways:
1. For the greater good.
Maybe by imagining what’s going on in this person’s life and thoughts will help you to understand them a little better. Maybe you’ll learn to let old grudges go, to be more accommodating to the quirks and nuances of someone you never much cared for. You’ll better communicate with someone you understand.

OR

2.Sweet, sweet evil.
That weird smell your loathee gives off? That’s because he sacrifices cats by the light of the full mooon: what you’re smelling is singed fur. And the reason she doesn’t listen is because she’s stuffed cork in her ears to compensate for a tragic deformity wherein her brains leak out if she tilts her head (which also explains why she’s so dumb). Run with it, ascribe any horrible fictional trait you like, but base it loosely in fact. Flex your imagination.

But why someone you don’t like?
Picking someone you don’t like gets you outside your comfort zone. It’s easy to imagine someone just like yourself; simply plug in your own ideals and reactions and it’s done. But often the people we don’t like are the people we don’t get. There’s the challenge: you have to get out of your own head before you can get into anyone else’s. (Like, oh, I don’t know…a character? They can’t all act/think/speak just like their authors, if the story is any good.)

(This is the part where writing books would tell you to write this shit down. Why? So you can relive it later? Nuh-uh, this is a GAME, and it won’t be FUN anymore if you make it too much like WORK. Besides, if you play only in your head, you can play in public…this broadens your target candidate base exponentially. Mwuahahaha.)

Give it a shot, and let me know what you think.

*Why “game”, when most people call it a writing “exercise”? Because one of these things sounds like way more fun than the other, that’s why.

New Project Progress Report

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on a new project. This one is going to be a collection of short horror stories. Each will be a complete story, able to be read as a stand-alone piece, but the stories themselves share a common theme. I’m planning for this one to be book-length, as opposed to the single shorts I’ve been putting out, and I’m hoping to venture into paper territory (with e-book option, of course).

Pretty exciting stuff.

I’ve had a couple people asking, so I thought I’d throw out a little update on where it’s at:

The first story is complete: drafted, fleshed-out, edited and ready.
It fed into the second story, the one I’m working now, which is almost finished its second draft.
I have plans and loose outlines (the most I ever do) for the other stories, though at this point I’m not entirely certain in which order they will appear in the final work.
I have a firm title that I’m in love with, and some cover ideas.

All in all, if it goes according to schedule, you should see this one available for purchase by end of this summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to bump it up, but as it stands now it’s competing with a commission, so I’m giving myself some extra time just in case.

It’s going to be creepy, and gory, and really, really fun. More to follow; I think you guys will like this one.