When I tell friends and acquaintances that I write, so often they say – “I would love to write, but…” We all have excuses not to write, not to even start. I used them. Most likely you did too. Excuses are not valid reasons.
So how to turn these excuses around and send them packing? In this post I share what worked for me, what made me pick up that pen and just go for it.
First and foremost, give yourself permission to write. This can be the biggest hurdle, too often we put our needs last. Believe in yourself, put you first and say ‘YES.’
No 1. I wouldn’t know where to start
Enroll in a writing course. This is the first thing I did when I finally gave myself permission to write. Enrol in a community college class or, if you want to be less visible, look online, whatever works best for you. Start with the basics. I found these beneficial – Australian Writers Centre, The Writers Studio and UWA Extension, however there are many, many others.
Read, read, read.
This is probably the one most important piece of advice I received and that I can pass on to you. Read the genre you want to write in. But do also read other genres. Join a book club, join a library. Expand on your reading experience. Pretty soon you might say to yourself – “I could write that.”
Pick up a pen and paper and just do it.
Write junk. About anything. Write what you see outside the window. What can you hear, smell? Use all your senses and don’t worry what goes on the page. No one will see it except you. Throw it away after if it makes you feel better. But do it every day.
Join a writing group. There is so much support out there for new writers. Search ‘writing groups in your area’. Go on. I dare you.
Attend Writers Festivals. This is my favourite thing to do. These are a mecca for writers and readers alike. Writers are there to promote themselves and their work and they offer much in the way of encouragement to those of us on our own journey to being published. Soak up the ambience and escape to another world with like minded people. Here is a link to a piece I wrote after the Perth Writers Festival 2015.
2. I don’t have the time
Time is on the move, don’t waste it.
Do you really have to watch the twentieth repeat of (insert here your favourite TV show)? That’s 30 minutes you could have been writing.
Do you commute by public transport? That’s twice a day you could be writing.
Get up 30 minutes earlier, go to bed 30 minutes later.
An hour lunch break? (Lucky you) Squeeze in 30 minutes of writing.
Once a month ask your partner to take the kids out for the day. Write. Do the same for him/her.
3. I don’t have a place to write
You don’t need a huge space to write. Grab a corner of the dining table.
Sit under a tree. Go to the library or your favourite coffee shop. Your lap. As long as you can fit your notebook on it you can write.
Some days I escape the distraction of a dirty house, and crave a quiet spot. My local library is perfect. And there is a lovely cafe close by. What more do you need? Supposedly, the Potter books were written in a cafe on napkins. We all know what came next… (I know, but it makes for a good story, right?)
4. I don’t know what to write about
Stories are everywhere. Who is the person under the Santa suit? A friendly Granddad or a serial killer? Maybe he murdered the last Santa and is hiding out. Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you off Santas, but…
The homeless man on the station platform, the girl with the purple hair and the tears in her eyes on the bus. The old lady who walks down the road at the same time every day. They all have stories.
Write about the happiest event of your childhood, or the saddest. There is a story in you.
5. I couldn’t write a whole book
So don’t. Write a short story. Write a poem. Dig out those essays you wrote at school. Rehash them, rewrite them. They were good and they can be again.
Enter competitions. I did and was lucky enough to have 3 short stories published. Some are free but most will ask a small reading fee. One of the benefits of many of the competitions is the feedback.
Stringybark Stories is a small publisher who runs regular competitions across varied genres, and there are many others. You can be anonymous and receive genuine feedback.
6. I am too old to write
The worst one of them all. You have sent the kids out to the wild beyond, you are winding down to retirement and you plan to sit and wither away waiting for someone to call? I think not. You especially, have a lifetime of experience to explore. Use it.
I am the world’s worst procrastinator, but at 59 I have 3 short stories published and at the time of writing this post, am 28,000 words into the 2nd draft of a novel.
Mary Wesley, Laura Ingells-Wilder, Frank McCourt, Harriet Doerr, to name just a few, were all late-comers.
Maybe you just want to write for your own pleasure, you’re not ready to share your words. Keep a journal. Fill a notebook.
If you have ever once in your life said to yourself, “I want to write something”, then do it.