Jeff Cohen at Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room in a post entitled “You Can’t Fix What Isn’t There,” wrote a ton of great stuff that I needed to hear. In fact, I read it on the 28th when he posted it, then I read it again yesterday so it’d sink in. I fell into an unfortunate trap that many writers struggle with. I quit writing. Yep. Three weeks ago, I decided to take a quick break from my work-in-progress, and I haven’t gone back to it. I’ve flirted with it a time or two, searching out inspirational photos on the internet, messing with the outline, opening the file only to close it again. But I didn’t write any new words. Then that wonderful blog post from a few days ago addressed the same issue. He starts off with this quote:
The most important thing in writing is to have written. I can always fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one. ~Nora Roberts
(This blank page courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
Then Jeff moves on to the potent stuff. He was teaching at a college, and one of his students didn’t turn in the writing assignment. When asked why, the student replied that he had writer’s block (a thoroughly convenient excuse for not writing). Jeff countered with “No you weren’t [blocked]. You just didn’t write anything.”
Sit for a moment and let that sink in before I continue. Isn’t it grand in its simplicity? Isn’t it refreshing to be smacked on the back of the head with that two-by-four of truth? It’ll feel better when it quits hurting, as my dad always says.
Then Jeff went on to say to his student, “You were afraid of writing something that wasn’t good; you weren’t incapable of writing. That’s different.”
That’s me! I didn’t write because I didn’t think it’d be any good. Why bother putting it on paper if I’m going to come back tomorrow and delete it all? Now I see that’s just an excuse to be lazy.
Read the entire post, because there are more nuggets of wisdom in there that can suck you right out of the writer’s black hole. He ends with this awesome news: “The muse is a total liar and can show up whenever summoned.” Hah! No more “waiting for the muse” excuse. No more “I have writer’s block” excuse. No more “It won’t be any good so why bother” excuse. Jeff successfully slashed them all. I have no more excuses for not working.
He finishes with “If you write something, you can fix it. If you don’t write something, well, how’s that going to help?”
Lesson learned, Master Jeff. Thank you for kicking me back into play. I’m going to open my story and reach my word quota for the day.
Has this happened to any of you? What excuses have you used in the past for not writing?