When you’re crabby and you know it

If I ran a book of all the favourite excuses writers use for not writing, which one would come in odds-on? Think about it. I suspect it’s the same one you trot out more often than not. It’s the one you’re least likely to be challenged over because you can always make it sound so reasonable. Have you guessed it yet? Come on. You’ve just wasted a whole minute thinking about it.

Time.

The most timeless and the most timeworn excuse in the world. Can you hear yourself saying it? My job / loved ones / study / colleagues / exercise routine / hot date / hair dying / ironing (and the list goes on) took up all my spare time. I just didn’t have a chance today. But I’ll catch up tomorrow.

No. You won’t.

I’m not suggesting we all ditch our responsibilities. And of course there will be occasions when we absolutely can’t fit it in. But how many of you can say you’ve never used time as an excuse?

It’s born of the popular theory that in order to write you need large chunks of the stuff. But there’s lots of popular theories. My personal favourite is that once you hit forty-five, your age begins to count back down.

For the longest time I believed in at least one of those. I’d wait for a block of several hours. When it arrived I would place myself in solitary confinement. If I remained completely unmolested, I could concentrate. Trouble was, working two jobs and studying part-time, those chunks were so far apart that when one happened along it took forever to get back into the flow of whatever I was working on. I was a little shy of forty-five when I finally discovered that if I wrote more regularly, even in snatches as small as fifteen minutes, the story and the characters stayed with me.

The consistency saw me completing more projects in a shorter amount of that all too precious time and the regular practice made my writing improve.

Most importantly, I was no longer the snappy crab with cheeks of fluoro red, frustrated by never having enough time to write. Sure, those big chunks are great, but I no longer hold myself back waiting for them. All of which means I’m a much nicer person to be around.

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