Overheard on the train:
I could be a writer, if I had the time. I’d be good at it. I might do it later when I run short of money.
Riiiiiight. I love that guy’s optimism. Did he think the Time-Fairy was going to pop into existence, wave a magic wand and grant him an extra four hours of quiet every day?
Newsflash – it doesn’t work like that. Let me dispel a few little myths for you.
#1 – You Don’t Have The Time
Listen up. If you want to write, you MAKE the time. It’s that simple. You think you quit your job one day, write a bestseller the next, and then live off your royalties? Nu huh. Not in the real world.
I know a number of successful writers who write fiction as their full time job, and that’s awesome. But every single one of them started out with a day job, squeezing the odd hours here and there to knock out a chapter or three. That’s how it works. You want to write, you grab every opportunity you get. It might be late at night when your partner snores beside you, or stupid-early in the morning while the kids are asleep. In your lunch break. On the bus / train. Scribbling a line of dialogue while you queue up in the supermarket. Dictating into your phone while you drive to the shops.
#2 – I Don’t Have Anywhere To Work
I struggle for a quiet space to let the words flow. Constantly. And so I find ways to work around it. Earbuds and music block out most background sounds. Noise cancelling headphones are even better. Laptops go most places with you, cafés, for instance. I know one writer who sits in her car every lunch break to write because it’s the only place she can guarantee she won’t be interrupted for an hour. How about sitting in the garden with a notebook and pen? See #1 for more suggestions.
#3 – I Have Great Ideas For Someone Else To Use
Yep, we all have those. But unless you develop it yourself, it’s not really your story, is it? I mean, if you have time to dictate it, word by word, then you DO have time (see #1), but just having the bare bones of a plot / world / character isn’t enough.
#4 – I Can’t Spell / Am Bad At Grammar / Failed English At School / Am Dyslexic
Thank God for spellcheckers. Microsoft Word might be a giant pain in the ass at times, but it’s supreme at highlighting typos. And that’s where Editors come in. They take the rough words and make them into smooth prose.
Writing is like any other craft. It takes time – sometimes freaking years – to develop, to hone the skills, to gain the experience. And like any other skill, the best way to learn it is to DO it.
#5 – I Can’t Decide What Genre I Want To Write In
That’s a tricky one, but you know what? You could just start work and see where it goes. Some writers are planners. They plan every scene and every chapter before they start work (J.K. Rowling is a classic example), but not everyone does it like that. Some are Pantsters, who make it up as they go along. Stephen King is a great example. You might not know if you’re a plotter or a panster until you start work. Give it a try? The good news is you can be either, or a mixture of both.
This discussion on Goodreads highlights both styles: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/549-plotters-vs-pantsers-can-you-guess-which-side-stephen-king-and-j-k-ro
The bottom line is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. There’s no getting around it. If you’re hung up on one or more of these excuses, then maybe it’s time to face the truth. Maybe you don’t want it that much?