Whether you’ve got a deadline to meet or not, the act of sitting down and writing every day isn’t the easiest of routines to stick to. And while the reasons we come up with for not working on that novel/play/story/poem are pretty much limitless, there are a few that always seem like a good excuse:
I’m actually working on the cover for the new book so it’s like really important, man, and you know, I need to get it out there and stuff.
Yeah, right. Of course the cover is important, since for most readers it’s the first thing they’ll see, but do you really need to spend three days playing around with Photoshop before finally committing yourself to an actual design?
Well, maybe you do, maybe you don’t. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know that the design for your book cover is essential, but experimenting with images maybe isn’t a great way to spend the time you should be spending on the design. Of the 20 theatre posters I created back in my WACtheatre days, I found the best ones (ie those that had the biggest impact) where the ones that took the least amount of time, like an hour, tops.
Moral: Experimenting is important, but don’t let it drag you away from the task in hand.
I really need to re-read the first book in the series I’m working on, to like, get in the mind-set.
Of course you do. But reading is something you should do at a time you wouldn’t normally allocate to writing. For instance – in the dentist’s waiting room, during your lunch break, in bed, on the train. You do not have to read between 8.00 and 10.00pm if that’s the time when you need to be working on your book.
Moral: Prioritise your time. Properly.
I really need to spend some quality time with the kids.
Okay. So reschedule your writing time so it doesn’t interfere with your family time.
Moral: get up earlier.
I really can’t be bothered.
Fair enough. There’s lots of times when we simply don’t have the energy to focus on our prize projects, but then again, there are things you can do that don’t demand so much attention. If I’m not really in the mood to work on the next chapter, I’ll look at re-writing the one I did yesterday, or work on my chapter headings, or check I’ve got the chronology right – after all, these are things I’m going to have to do at some point, so why not do it now? Sometimes, easing myself into it like this will get me all fired up and I’ll end up writing the next chapter anyway.
Moral: there’s always something you can do.
I’ll do it tomorrow.
This is a good one, cos we’re only talking about 24 little hours, so that’s probably fine. But what happens if there’s some family/work/personal crisis tomorrow that prevents you from writing? What happens if ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ turns into ‘I’ll do it on Thursday/next week/next month?’ Putting things off is a great way to build up a resistance to ever doing it – I know, I’ve been there.
Moral: Do it now.
If you’re lucky enough to write for a living you’ll know that there’s only so much time you can spend not writing, but for the rest of us, it’s pretty much buckle down and get on with it.
“I firmly believe that you get better at whatever you do in life, the more you do it.”