There are hundred of blog posts online about the benefit of writing every day. You’ll find the same advice in writing books, and on creative writing courses. It’s accepted as a given. You need to write every day to improve the flow and the quality of your writing.
There are also hundreds of posts online about procrastination in relation to writing, and plenty of advice on how to overcome it.
But when does a reason for not doing something become an excuse? Take my own situation for instance. I have an idea for a book and although I haven’t fleshed out every detail, I do have some scenes in mind that I could be writing. So writers block isn’t an issue here. But I have to confess that I am not writing. The reason (or excuse) I have is that it is school holidays in New Zealand, and I have two children at home with me all day. I also have a major house renovation taking place and my first book is in the final editing stages, so I need to read it through again with a critical eye and this takes time. To top all of this off, I am chairing a community construction project that is reaching final stages, and requiring a lot of my attention.
Still, I could be writing at night, right? Except that by the time I bundle the kids off to bed, I’m too exhausted. It takes a certain amount of concentration to write and I just don’t have it after a hot day of juggling kids and builders.
So here’s where I’ve reached with my thinking on this period of writing inactivity. I know that very soon my children will be back at school, my building work at home and on this community project will finish, and my first book will be published. This will free up several hours of my day. Of course, other events could arise to take their place, but I can choose to say ‘no’ to new projects and to prioritise my writing (and I will!). So for now, I’ve decided to make peace with the fact that I don’t have the mental space, or the time, these summer holidays to do any significant amount of writing. I’ll remind myself that I’ve finished one book already, so it’s not due to lack of stickability and I will try to be happy with what I do achieve instead of beating myself up about what I don’t.
What do you think? Excuses or Reasons? Is this just a serious case of procrastination?
I’d love to know whether other writers have similar periods in their lives where they feel unable to write for practical reasons, or if they always find a way to write no matter what.
Click here for a link to a post by Glenn Magus on procrastination – you’ll find links to other useful posts on the subject there.