24 Things: The Real Reasons Why Writers Don’t Write

Woman Working

Don’t you just hate not writing?

Especially during November. Even if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, it’s impossible not to feel the galactic pressure that thousands of writers around the world are writing more than you are.

That kind of makes you feel like crap.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and within the first week, I fell behind by three days. Three days might not sound like a lot, but oh my goodness gracious, at 1,667 words a day, that’s a lot of words to catch up on.

So, last week I told my friend I’d give him $50 if I wasn’t caught up by midnight tonight.

I’ve been incrementally catching up all week, hitting huge word counts each day. Then I got sick and missed two days.

Funny how lack of sleep affects your health.
Yesterday I wrote about 5,400 words. I did it in three huge writing blocks, one in the early morning, and two in the evening.

I only need to write 2,200 words today before midnight to be completely caught up, so I’m pretty sure I’m safe.

Yay.

But seriously. There are some days I’m eager to write, and others where I suddenly become amazing at household chores because I’ll do ANYTHING that’s not writing.

I know if I don’t write, some reasons are legit, most are total bullshit. Sometimes I blame “creative blockage,” “I just need a little bit of space from my characters,” or “writer’s block.”

When in reality, it’s usually just fear or laziness and I’m justifying it with logic to make myself feel a lot better about myself. Saying, “I’m not going to follow my dream of finishing this novel because I hate writing right now,” can be difficult to say to myself.

So, I came up with a list of actual reasons writers don’t write.

All the “creative juices aren’t flowing” bullshit out of the way:

  1. You’re scared that when you start typing, what comes out will be the written equivalent of a pubescent voice crack
  2. Your computer has internet access… and it turns out there’s a lot of websites on the internet
  3. Making you a modern day Marco Polo
  4. You had a long day at work and you’re brain is exhausted… for a month and a half straight
  5. You’re scared you’ll prove to yourself that you’re not able to finish a novel, so you fizzle out to save yourself the seemingly inevitable pain of failure
  6. You just had a large meal. Now you need to digest
  7. You have a certifiable case of FOMO
  8. And all your friends are having fun. Right now. Without you
  9. Your main character reminds you too much of yourself
  10. So now you hate him/her
  11. You’re too busy on the phone with your therapist because your main character exposed so much about yourself
  12. You’re in the middle of plotting your next best-seller
  13. Netflix just released that one childhood movie you haven’t thought about in a decade. But now you MUST WATCH IT
  14. You decided you hate writing
  15. You feel untalented and outshined
  16. So you’re scared to put yourself out there, even to yourself
  17. Finding a consistent time to write would take like 25 minutes to plan. And that’s way too long
  18. You started a new diet and exercise routine that really eats up your time and energy (pun intended)
  19. Your regular writing spot is either taken or not an option today. Well, there goes today’s word count
  20. You haven’t outlined your novel so you have no idea where you’re going next
  21. You decided to pick up a book in the same genre as the one you’re writing, and you realize that they’re 100 million times better than you
  22. You’re bored with your story, and that scares you, so you’d prefer to ignore it and hope the feeling goes away
  23. You’re too lazy to keep up with the daily word count
  24. You picked up a new hobby, basket weaving, and it’s taking up the majority of your time — because it’s easier to do and you don’t hate yourself when you see the finished product

If you’ve not discovered this already, writing is an incredibly self-exposing task. You’re forced to face your fears and insecurities. And if you aren’t facing them, chances are you’re hiding.

Your writing, and your life, will be much better once you face your inner demons.


Question of the day: Why don’t you write? (For me it’s either Youtube or Netflix. I freaking love funny videos, it’s unhealthy)

11 Comments

  1. Love this – and I’m not taking part in NaNoWriMo. I’m still getting through 1-24 just to get my ass in gear and write. But here I am. Believe me I have plenty to write, but for many of the reasons you listed, I just don’t. My favorite and made me laugh out loud? #4 – a month and a half of mental exhaustion is on the horizon. Especially up here in Northern Minnesota. I’m mentally exhausted now for at least four more months until the freakin sun is shining to melt the snow. … thank you – this gave me a great laugh!

    • Hey Jozzy! I’m in Minneapolis, so I totally empathize with your seasonal depression/mental exhaustion!! I leave work and it’s dark and dreary. If I didn’t love this city so much, I’d move to a warmer climate!

      Do you want to write? What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back? The thing that put all my excuses to rest was me closing my eyes and imagining myself on my death bed with this novel still unwritten. My sense of urgency skyrocketed, and I realized if I don’t do it now, I’ll always make excuses. So, I got into gear. 🙂

  2. When I don’t write it’s because I’ve come home from an 8 hour work day in front of the computer (and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of another computer), put in my 1 hour of exercise to unkink from all of that computer-sitting, made dinner, ate, washed the dishes, and turned on The Voice. Where am I going to find the time!?

    Basically, numbers 4 and 18 on your list. And 20. But I refuse to outline, so I force myself through that block and just write whatever words pop into my head. My subconscious is a much better writer than my conscious self.

    • That’s one of the main killers for me as well! I take public transit to work, and then I work out in the evening, so by the time I come home and eat dinner, I’m exhausted and just want to relax.

      So I replaced my “relax” time (watching TV) with writing. It’s a bit more stressful, but I’m glad I’m doing it!

      Why do you refuse to outline?

      • I don’t know what the story will be, or where it’s going, until I follow a character. I could try outlining the story once it’s underway, but I prefer discovering it as I go along. That’s the joy (and agony) of writing for me.

  3. Reason 15. Someone posts a list of reason not to write on their blog, and you have to read it to check if there are any you can use when your husband asks why you are procrastinating again!

  4. Are you inside my head? #11 slayed me.

  5. I relate to too many of these!
    Lately I find it helpful to view my writing as a need-to-do VS a nice-to-do. If I don’t give myself the choice, then I can’t choose not to do it.

    • That’s a good point, Aliza. When you realize the sense of urgency, and when you realize the level of priority you put on completing your novel, it puts everything else in perspective and really gives you the “need” vs. “meh” mindset if you’re serious about it.

      That switch in mindset was powerful for me as well!

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