25 Reasons to Not Write

Write only if you cannot live without writing. – Elie Wiesel

1. The house needs to be vacuumed.

2. You want to finish reading that book.

3. Your grammar is poor.

4. You’re tired.

5. Your 7th grade teacher told you that you didn’t write well.

6. You’ll have more time tomorrow, or this weekend, or when you retire.

7. You want to read just one more book on writing.

8. Your yard needs to be mowed.

9. You need to finish this one project for your kids first.

10. You aren’t making any money writing.

11. You don’t know enough writers.

12. You have nothing to say.

13. You don’t have a list of the qualities of good writing.

14. You’re scared of what people might say.

15. You’re scared of what you might say.

16. Your spouse/partner doesn’t support you.

17. You feel guilty taking the time to write.

18. You want writing to be easy.

19. You need sleep.

20. Your computer/pen/pencil/braille stylus broke.

21. You need to do your taxes.

22. You want to make bread.

23. You only want to write if people will read it.

24. You need to alphabetize your bookshelf.

25. You’re sick.

All of these are legitimate reasons not to write.  Almost no one in the world will fault you for heeding them. Almost no one but yourself. Because if you are a writer, you can’t help but long to write. You may not actually do it, but then, that’s a matter of choice.  Always.

Finding time to write is hard- the balance of family and other work, the psychological and emotional fear over doing something so risky, the way that avoidance steps in and makes us think that our dead ladybug collection needs to be vacuumed up right now – all these things step in and push us away from our words.

And the truth is that most people don’t care if we write. The greater world, and even many of the people closer to us, will not suffer if we do not write.  We will, though, and that greater world, well, it might not improve if we don’t write either.  We are the only ones who know.

So, take the time to write. Even when all 25 of these things stand in the way. Take the time. It’s there. You just need to find it . . . if you care enough about writing to do so. And if you don’t care enough, free yourself from the guilt and enjoy these other things.  It’s easier that way.

What else would you add to this list? What keeps you from writing? 

  • http://www.eileenknowles.com Eileen

    I have yet to use the bread excuse…thank you for giving me another one! 😉

  • Wiebke – V Blackstone

    The internet… especially FB games… and the pseudonym is because I know my genres aren’t supported by my church… hasn’t stopped my so far

  • http://slateriver.wordpress.com/ Joanne Yeck

    It may be clear by now, not writing is my issue, not not writing. However, I was very excited about idea #24. You need to alphabetize your bookshelf.

    What a great idea. But I would never find what I was looking for… I retrieve by color and size.

  • http://jaynesbooks.blogspot.ca Melissa W.

    For me its because I have trouble conveying what is in my head into written form.

    • http://edwardtbear.com Steve Thomas

      Sam, this one used to be a problem for me until I learned never to speak of what I was going to write about. Writing is storytelling, and the stories are kept in separate tanks between my ears, where they ferment and ripen. I used to say they need to age like fine wines, but it’s more like making sauerkraut or pickles, I think. And it’s important to recognize that red wines may need a century or more to reach the peak of perfection, but light white Rhine wines need very little aging and turn to vinegar if aged too long.

      When wine or cheese or pickles or sauerkraut ages, it gives off carbon dioxide, and by keeping those tanks of mine tightly sealed, they buildup pressure until they finally threaten the tank itself. Did you ever read about the great Boston molasses disaster of 1919? Google it. In any case, I visit the tanks every so often, and think, “not yet” or “coming along nicely” or “Hmmm, Needs some coriander” or “Whups. Turned to vinegar while I wasn’t paying attention.” And there will be some that seem ripe and ready.

      I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I think there are many writers that have the same thing going. People come up to a writer and say, “I’ve got this great idea for a story; write it and we can share the fantastic profits” to which they reply, “Great – but I’ve got too many ideas already. Why don’t you write it yourself and keep ALL the money” and people think it’s that the writer doesn’t want to be deluged with bad ideas, but the fact is, the writer is telling the absolute truth, that he has too many great ideas already.

      Remember back when airplanes were being hijacked regularly, and some writer had a brainstorm about hijacking a subway train? The result was “The Taking of Pelham 1:23”, which was a great movie, and a phenomenal movie. I had an idea about hijacking a building, which in no way resembles “Die Hard”. It’s been stewing in my mind doe several decades, and I haven’t yet met (or invented) the person I need to model one key character on. When I figure out what makes her tick, I’ll be spending 20 hours a day at the keyboard, writing the story, but until then, I dare not tell the story,not for fear someone will steal my idea, but because “it isn’t soup yet.”

      When a story is ready to be told, it will get told, no matter what the living room looks like. Oy may take a D-8 Cat to clear a path from the front door to the kitchen, but babies and stories come into the daylight when THEY decide, and as writers, all we can do is hang on for dear life when the time comes.

      Maybe it works differently for you. And sometimes when the words start erupting, I can’t think of exactly the right. I dare not stop to figure out what word I’m looking for. Use a placebo word that you can replace in the copy-editing stage. Right now, I am using Acme, because I never use that word legitimately, and I confess, I was inspired by RoadRunner cartoons. He Acmed the dawn, like no man had ever before or ever again would Acme. Do a search on Acme on the document, and search the thesaurus to find the real word you’re looking for.

      Oh, and if you happen across a good deal on a used D-8, let me know.

  • http://edwardtbear.com Steve Thomas

    I don’t know where “Sam” came from. I meant “Mel”.