How to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing

One of my readers wants to be a writer; her problem is that she keeps making excuses. She wants to start writing, but can’t motivate herself.

How to Stop Making Excuses and Start WritingMany writers – including me – have found Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages to be the best way to stay focused and disciplined to write — read The Artist’s Way. It’s excellent because it’s both practical and philosophical/spiritual, and thus serves all types of writers.

On How to Become a Better Writer – an Artistic Perspective, she said: “I recently wrote a first draft of my novel and then an unillustrated children’s book. I have tons of ideas for more than ten novels. These characters and stories speak through me every day and my biggest thing is I make excuses and do not honor my gift and in a way that affects me more than anything else. I am not sure if it is fear of failing and not being successful or if it is just pure laziness. I know in my heart this is what I have been called to do yet I do nothing about it. How do I kill that nagging sense of fear and honor the voice of reason?”

How to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing

The tricky thing about answering this question is that it’s different for everyone! That is, what works to motivate me as a writer may not work for you, and vice versa.

When I wrote 73 Ways to Fire Up (or Just Fire!) the Muse, I interviewed dozens of writers, journalists, novelists, bloggers, and even journalism professors for their best tips for being a productive writer. My goal in writing that ebook was to provide a wide range of tips for people who want to write, but lack motivation.

Pay yourself to write

One of the most interesting strategies in that ebook is to give someone $100, and have them “pay” you $5 every time you write a pre-ordained number of pages, or if you write for a pre-ordained set of time. You’ll earn back your money, which may be the motivation you need to stop making excuses and start writing!

Learn how to write more

Another way to increase your productivity is to hire a “book doctor”, or solicit an accountability partner. You could meet weekly with him or her, and be honest about the number of pages you’ve written over the past week. Or, join a writer’s group – or start one (read 7 Tips for Starting a Writers’ Group – Writing Alone, Together).

how to start writing no excuses

How to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing

Perhaps the key to writing more is to figure out what’s holding you back, which you mentioned in your question. Are you making excuses because you lack self-discipline, or because you fear success? Are you simply lazy, or are there deeper issues going on? Maybe it’s a combination of both.

Try different strategies

To stop making excuses and keep writing, you need to try different strategies until you find what works for you. You need to figure out what motivates you. I’m motivated to write by money. I like to earn a living from writing. Others are motivated by bringing characters alive, creating stories where none existed before, or entertaining readers. Still others are motivated by reading their stories to kids, or posting their words online.

I don’t know what will motivate you to write; that’s something you need to experiment with until you find the golden ticket. For ideas, read No Motivation to Write? 10 Ways to Write More Words Than You Can Edit.

“And the problem is, when you don’t risk anything, you risk even more,” – Erica Jong.

And if you have any tips for people who need to know how to stop making excuses and start writing, please share below!

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9 thoughts on “How to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing”

  1. Thanks for your comments! Now that I am working on my Masters degree, I have to write so many papers and assignments. Most are at least 12 pages long, the rest are around 20 or 25 pages.

    I find it extremely helpful to set aside 30 minutes to work on my assignments. I can get a lot of writing down in 30 minutes, and often I work longer than I planned. This is the best way for me to write more, and make excuses less.

  2. Great advice, I am definitely guilty of coming up with excuses all the time…A writer has to write even when no desire is present.

  3. Maybe another good bit of advice is to plan ahead and create the outline or overall structure of the written work. Use outlining software or index cards and map out everything. Then when all the kinks have been worked out and it all comes together in one cohesive whole, it’s simply a matter of filling in the details.

    Also, by doing this, you work out all the potential problems that can have you ‘hitting the wall’ on a plot point that just doesn’t scan.

    A major source of frustration is having an idea peter out. If as an author your writing starts to meander aimlessly, it’s usually because it was not planned fully ahead. By knowing where you are and how you’ll get to the next place, you will have the incentive to plow forward because you’ll know where you’re going instead of running around in circles and quickly losing interest as a result.

    Plan ahead.

  4. Discipline and ideas for writing seems to be my downfall. The only way I have found to combat discipline is to set a specific time of the day to do it. When I am blocked for ideas, a good way that I have found it to do the Finding Forester and just start typing until something hits you.

  5. P J Kielberg-McClenahan

    My first book is in the publishing pipeline as I speak. I’d be more willing to share my tips if I could come on here as anonymous. Is that possible? I am of the school that believes you have to be really involved with your work, the Muse is not always at one’s beck and call. I find the Muse is more willing to assist, if I follow some age-old, tried-and-true unorthodox methods, plus a few of my own. Show me how to come on as anonymous and I am happy to share.

  6. In case I reach a point where I can not accomplish what really is required, and I am not excited which is for me the ignition to start, the alternative to to return back to my daily routine a minimum number of hours translating something of value on the literary level. The whole issue is still again involved in writing but from a different side. There is some kind of practice related to writing and what is translated is a short story or part of a literary article which is of value too. The point is not to stop, and the desire will come ” back again and face to face to what I need to write about.”

  7. Along the lines of what Hamzah wrote, I’m not sure there’s any way to get around the idea that if what you’re writing about isn’t enough to hold your interest, then maybe you should consider stopping and writing about something that you’re passionately obsessed about instead.

    There have been times I’ve stayed up too late because I was so engrossed in my writing that I couldn’t get it all out fast enough. It has to be exciting to you. If not, how can you expect anyone else to be interested?

    If writing feels like a chore, I think that’s an indication that maybe writing is not your thing. The best part of creativity is the process, not the product.

    Sorry if that sounds harsh. But I really believe desire is the destination. Find what turns you on and go with that.

  8. There are different ways that motivate me to write but the most encouraging one is excitement. When I am excited about anything, I feel that I am in the mood to write about it. This will be the ignition to start writing. How? I take advantage of the situation and start writing. This will be at the beginning but the minute I start, I feel that I am activated to continue writing not just the topic I am excited about but when I finish, the topic I.e short story or novel I want to continue with. For me, the switch to start with the exciting topic, and the rest comes by itself. Brains are like pipes. You can not start smoking pipe without the lighter and you can not start writing without fuel excitement for me is the fuel.