Growing up, I used to write a lot. Throughout my day I would imagine scenes and dialogue, some of it laughable but some of it serious. I would jot them down in notebooks or on little scraps of paper and keep them in a drawer. These were my ideas, my stories, and the sad part is that most of them are incomplete.
I was once given a synthetic purple leopard print notebook. I remember being overjoyed by that gift (probably) because it was fuzzy and soft, one of my favorite colors, and had the pattern of one of my favorite animals. I used to be obsessed with big cats when I was little, their feline grace and ferocity always intrigued me. The longest story I’ve ever written to date was written in that book, I think maybe 70 fleshed out pages of story with a beginning, climax, and end. If you’re curious, the story was about a jaguar of all things because in those days, like I said before, I had an obsession with big cats. The story is first person where the events play out from the jaguar’s perspective who I strongly modeled after the generic super hero character. I know what you’re thinking, but just keep reading for a minute. Now I know 70 pages is merely a drop in the bucket to a well-read individual who (on average) can bust through 200 pages in about an hour, but consider the fact that I was only 9 when I wrote that story. Yes, my 9 year old self wrote a story about a jaguar that saves people and yes it is awful. That’s besides the point though; the point I want to make is that I actually accomplished something- beginning to end.
I was reflecting on this today when I woke up. Thoughts of writing filled my head and I kept asking myself what I should do with all of these story ideas and bits of dialogue that I’ve been stockpiling in a drawer for over 12 years. At one point I thought just write, you dumbass. The obvious answer. Of course it’s never that simple. Life is just too busy sometimes, especially the older you get when your priorities shift from what you want to what you need. Unfortunately some of us need jobs to pay the bills and as a result our availability and free time is a limited thing. These are excuses, I realize. I won’t pretend that I can’t make more time to write and maybe actually finish another story in my lifetime. All of that is very possible if I’d give myself the opportunity.
You ever get that urge to write but the words just aren’t there? Or your motivation to write comes at the worst possible time and somehow vanishes into thin air the moment you pick up the pen? First we have to eliminate the excuses. This revelation dawned on me when I started listening to a podcast titled “Writing Excuses” where each episode discusses a specific writing topic, a book of the week, and even offers daily/weekly writing prompts. The podcast is hosted by Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal and Howard Tayler. As someone interested in exploring the writing process and various methods of planning, I highly recommend you taking a listen to the podcast. They run approximately 15 minutes each episode and share opinions and advice on various aspects of the writing process from brainstorming all the way to publishing.
Writing excuses are a serious problem for writers, so if you feel like this relates to you, I encourage you to give the podcast a listen sometime. Maybe it’ll help.