How do you know you’re a writer? Simple. Writers write. They don’t spit out Chapter One on an ambitious weekend and then tell everyone they are writing a book even though they never pick it up again. Writing is all about BIC: butt in chair. Without regular, healthy doses of BIC, you’re not a writer.
Let’s discuss the unacceptable excuses not to write.
I don’t have time.
There are evenings, weekends, and lunch breaks. There’s riding the subway to work. Spend Sundays with family and friends, but make sure your loved ones know Saturdays are off-limits; writing days. Make sacrifices. If you don’t, you’re not a writer.
I don’t have a good writing environment.
You need silence. You need noise. You need a laptop. You need several hours to really get into it. Fill in the blank for whatever you “need” in order to write, but it’s all baloney sandwiches. All you need is pen and paper. Actually, if you were locked in a South American prison without pen and paper, you could probably still find something with which to prick your finger, and you’d have lots of blank wall space to fill up with blood letters. Bottom line, if you’re not writing before you buy an iPad, you’re not going to write after you buy one, either.
I’m not in the right mood.
I’ve got news for you: real writers are almost never in the mood to write. When sitting down to write, I’m accosted with a sudden desire to read a blog post, click on a YouTube video, or watch paint dry, but I must strive past this. It’s like the first swim of the summer. You don’t want to get in the pool – you know it’s going to be too cold; you’d rather just lie out in the sun. But once you swallow your inhibitions and lower yourself in completely, it feels amazing.
I have writer’s block.
Be honest – you sat in front of the computer for fifteen minutes, nothing came out, and now you think you have license to watch the Iron Chef marathon. If you really tried for a couple of hours and still can’t get anything out, try writing something else for a while. Write a scene from later on in the book, work on plot, or consider alternate first sentences. Just get something on paper. More on writer’s block in a later post.
I’m too tired.
Next to not having time, this is my biggest bane. I write 40-50 hours a week at my paying job, maintain this blog in the evenings, and read whenever I can. You probably have a similar schedule – or worse. It takes a lot of energy. But writing or not writing is a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils, because no matter how tired I am, if I don’t write, I will snap at people all weekend and shrivel up like a raisin until the following Saturday.