We all make writing excuses for various reasons and it slows down our progress for writing a book…
Publilius Syrus once claimed: “Every vice has its excuse ready.” And writing is no different.
In this article, we will uncover the kind of excuses we make and provide you tips on how to overcome your writing excuses—so you can actually succeed like so many of our authors here at SPS.
So stay put! Learn. Practice. And soar.
Here are our tips for how to overcome writing excuses:
- Find your voice
- Avoid the “non-native” speaker debate
- Develop a writing habit
- Cut back on social media
- Don’t procrastinate
- Stop fearing the fall
- Disability is not inability
- Strive for progress
- Get rid of writer’s block
What causes writing excuses?
There are a plethora of reasons writers give for letting excuses take over their work.
Sure, some are the real-life instances you may connect with, and others are cheesy ideas saved in your head.
You are likely to find reasons like toddler trouble, age, illness, time, little knowledge, to creativity blocks still making headlines in the writing community as the biggest launchers to writing excuses.
But do you know what? Only you can let go of all excuses—and we at Self-Publishing School are here to help you along the way.
The common excuses which prevent us from writing or self-publishing:
- “I’m not a native English speaker, can I still write?”
- “What is the right age if you want to self publish? I am 14 years old; do I stand a chance?”
- Writer’s block (which we cover solutions to below)
- I am still learning how to write.
- “I have little vocabulary knowledge: what should I do first to be a writer?”
- Life problems/disability.
- Waiting for the perfect time to write.
- Looking for good writing tips.
- Fear of failing or falling.
- Looking for a book genre or how to start a story.
- “I want to write a script; what should I do first?”
- I’ll do it later.
How to overcome writing excuses with ease
The late Great Louis La Moore, the prolific author of over 100 books, once said he could write on a busy street corner: that was years back where authors used a pen, a paper, or a typewriter to create text.
Imagine the benefits you can add to your writing in this era of the iPhone, tablets, and cloud apps that allow you to write on the go?
#1 – Find your voice
Usually, we learn writing by imitation: but no matter how you view it, Laryngitis will only add poison to your book.
Remember the creativity slowdown I mentioned earlier?
When the author completes his piece, you are blank, with no ideas for your essay. You have nothing fresh to add after you finish comparing your writing to the author you are reading.
The magic to fighting ensuing excuse from Laryngitis is finding your voice in writing. But that’s only half of it.
Here are other kick-butt methods to find your writing voice:
- Writing more every day.
- Write your draft freely without editing or looking at another person’s work.
- Write and research later: or research but take a break before you engage in the writing process.
- Plot all your plans for writing a novel and ideas on some paper or notebook whenever they pop.
- Read more from different authors, publications, and manuscripts.
- Get creative with your work or content.
- Write with the buyer persona in mind.
- Get laser-focused with your writing or content by selecting a niche and a language.
#2 – Avoid the native/non-native English speaking debate
Client: “Native English speakers only.”
Writer: “But I am not native!”
I hear this phrase a lot in the writing community, especially from clients who want their book/content written by Anglophone writers.
But frankly speaking, I have never understood the debate or the relationship between native and non-native speaking to writing unless one is writing on religion, culture, cuisine, or destinations nuance.
What should you do then if you are not a native English speaker?
Many great writers are native English speakers. However, writing should not only be in the English language but in other languages too! And being a native does not equal writing well.
Here is how to win this debate:
- You can write in your native language and use a service like Google translate to translate phrases and words to other languages.
- If you want to focus on English, read English books, the dictionary, thesaurus, and journals on the niche you want to write.
- Practice writing in the English language.
- Watch English films and movies (not the Housewives thing).
- Stop using autocorrect while writing.
- Invest in your education, learning the language.
- Use online writing assistants like Hemingway editor to bring clarity in your writing.
You can also seek inspiration from the likes of Prof Ngugi Wa Thiong’ and Chinua Achebe who are not native English speakers yet, have published books in the English language and even received international accords for their persuasive writing.
#3 – Develop a writing habit and strategy
Planning is a necessary process in any person’s life – not only for corporates but writers too.
If you do not plan, you plan to make writing excuses! It is that simple.
The building blocks you create in the planning process will inspire you to reach your goal of completing that book.
It will help you avoid replacing writing with watching The Game of Thrones, buying groceries, browsing for advice and settling toddlers or cat mischief and excuses.
Tip on making a successful plan:
- Designate a specific time for writing and reading.
- Set targets.
- Push yourself.
- Create a content calendar and a place where you find writing prompts or exercise to kill writer’s block.
- Test your progress – after a week or a month.
- Make a list of what you want to achieve. It can be in sticky notes on a wall or laptop for affirmation.
- Set reminders to give you the push and inform you when it’s time to do groceries, shopping, or writing.
- Create realist goals on the number of words you want to write in a day. For me, I love using 750 words.com for setting and achieving my daily writing goals.
Here too are our favorite writing software you can use in planning, time management, improve productivity, and kill those writing excuses:
#4 – Use social media less
How often do you use social media? Once a week? A day? Every minute?
It is true social media has got a tremendous influence and opportunities these days. It has created jobs, made communication, information, and knowledge more manageable. But it has also contributed to time and resource wastage not forgetting making the world louder.
Studies show on average; we spend close to three hours every day on social media slacking off watching memes or viral content yet, we could use this time to improve on our writing skills.
Take, for example. You take an hour to write 1,000 words. You could reduce the number of hours you spend on social media to two, and the other on writing.
Social media is also not just a place for watching memes, but thankfully, a platform to develop writing habits. You can write on LinkedIn writing, Tumblr, or even Facebook as you connect with friends and family.
Other ways to get over being hooked on social media:
- Turning off notifications so you can concentrate on writing.
- Use an app like Zen writing app or the ones mentioned in #3, which keep track of what you do.
- Write before you engage in another activity. This will make you want to write faster since you want to move to the next commitment.
- Let your desire for writing be numero uno.
- Make the environment conducive for writing.
- Join writing groups like the Self-Publishing School Mastermind Community: an excellent place to find inspiration from those who share or overcome similar challenges and excuses.
How to succeed in writing groups to get over writing excuses:
- Join relevant writing groups worth your time.
- Connect with authors and publishers through personal chats for advice and inspiration on places such as Scribophile.com or professional associations for writers and editors.
- Ask only relevant questions and be on point to get the most answers out of your questions.
- Build a rapport.
- Connect, network, and engage in each case.
Never let social media take charge of your life.
Take advantage of its hidden gem and use social platforms as an inspiration to arouse your creativity and bring back your writing mojo.
#5 -Avoid procrastination
“If it’s not easy to start, it will be hell to finish.” — Niklas Göke
Procrastination is the biggest thief of creativity, progress, and success. It is an enemy you must conquer at all cost.
Whatever it is that you may not want to write now, stop waiting for the right time, age, or when the right resources are available to start.
Today, the community has got many great resources. You can write on your phone, tablet, or a pocketbook. You can also use platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, or Tumblr to share your stories: or use a tool like Jami Gold Save to plan your novel if you are starting in this art.
Remember also the Great Louis La Moore words on being able to write on any busy street corner.
Any place, any time is an opportunity to write: not procrastinate.
Note: For your writing to work, you need to be in the writing factory and not embrace the excuse factory.
#6 – Don’t fear to fall
There is a lot that goes into self-publishing a book: drafts, outlines, revisions, finding a publishing company and eventually marketing and selling to the public who receives it with mixed reactions.
Guess what happens during all this process?
Frustrations, name shaming, trolls, in-your-face insults, and horrible reviews with straight-up lies.
If this has been the case, keep the fire burning and kill the negative energy in this way:
- Make a list of all the life lesson and use them for motivation – if you lack the inspiration.
- Keep a list of your favorite motivational quotes.
- Take Sir Richard Branson’s offer challenging readers to write letters to their younger self how to navigate life.
- Make a list of your habits – positive and negative.
- Write of your failures and how you plan to succeed.
- Have faith which gives powers and action to thoughts. Most people develop excuses because they do not have faith in their writing.
- Finally, keep in mind that success waits on the other side of failure.
#7 – Disability is not inability
Are you struggling with specific challenges in life? Maybe an illness, marital problems, family issues, anxiety, low mood, spouse abuse, or low self-esteem?
Life has a unique way of furnishing us with problems—a thing the Bible captures: but it encourages us to overcome our challenges in a unique way.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
You may struggle with whatever challenges life throws at you, but do not turn them into writing excuses.
Remember, excuses thrive well where problems exist. The many times you count the troubles you are experiencing, the more you will use them as a reason for not completing your book.
To tow you out of the excuse mode, look up these five authors who succeeded in this art despite disabilities.
I also wish to encourage you to:
- Write a memoir or a biography, or on the challenges, you are experiencing.
- Write about your failures and shortcomings and how you plan to undo them.
- Find a mentor in writing groups, writing conferences, and co-working space.
- Ask an able sister, friend, or family member to assist where necessary.
- Use technology, especially those for voice, motion, and creativity.
#8 – Strive for progress, not perfection
When I started writing, I struggled to produce a well-polished draft. I hated rewrites and self-editing made me want to ram my head into a wall.
But with time, I allowed myself to be scrappy.
I realized that giving it all in my drafts held my back: it pushed me into the rabbit hole of procrastination, fear and made me look inept.
You may aspire to be perfect at what you do, considering the good returns it brings. But perfection sometimes carries a poor reputation – plagiarism, Laryngitis, and writer’s block.
This is especially the self-judgment we impose on ourselves when we find our piece is not of the quality of bestsellers or garnered low reviews.
While you may want to become a bestselling author; when starting, strive for progress and with time, harness the power of perfection through edits, second, or third editions.
Remember the old saying of how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
That your first piece never made headlines does not mean the next will experience the same fate.
Aim for progress. Perfection is like success, a journey, having no destination: hence the doing is a lot more important than the result.
Here is a broad overview of how to aim for progress:
- Collaborate with other writers, making relationships with them, whether aspiring or professional.
- Seek reviews and feedback from beta readers.
- Find or pay an editor to help bring out your thoughts, ideas, and write more succinctly.
- Do an activity that will bring more clarity to your writing.
- Give yourself enough latitude to experiment and maybe fail a couple of times.
#9 – Writer’s block doesn’t exist
It is an excuse us writer’s use to shot our own feet when writing or publishing a book: then seek comfort in a community or in-crowds ailing of the same.
Let’s face it one more time: “Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.” – Steve Martin.
Guess what? You can stop it.
It often starts with finding the real ailment, some soul searching and admitting to yourself.
The other list of things you can do to write without writer’s block goes here:
- Make a habit of writing ideas every day.
- Seek ideas from social media or writing groups.
- The Time is Now.
- Check out these story ideas to stir inspiration
- These creative writing prompts.
- Ask your partner or friend for ideas if stuck.
- Go through some of these creative writing exercises
- Do something unique at least every quarter. It can be a documentary, podcast, or something related to the writing you produce.
So what’s standing in your way from self-publishing? Not excuses, it is you. But we can fix that—here at Self-Publishing School—with a few shifts in the mindset.