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Writing Excuses

Think about projects you completed: What kept you going? How did you feel once you reached the finish line? What goals do you have now, and what is keeping you from accomplishing them?

I want to focus on one reason keeping us from achieving our goals—writing excuses.

I mastered the art of making excuses a long time ago, and at workshops, I am frequently asked goal-related questions, especially about how to overcome the challenge to achieve said goals. Over the years, not surprisingly, many of the questions might be phrased differently, but are the same:

            I want to write a book, but I am not a writer.

            I want to compile my family history, but I don’t have time.

            I want to take that writing class, but I can’t figure out the computer.

            I want to finish this story, but everything I write isn’t very good.

            I want to publish my book, but I don’t know how to edit my work.

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?

We all have legitimate reasons for putting our writing goals aside. Trust me, I know.

Here’s something to try—shrink your buts. You read that right.

A friend of mine shared this fun photo on Facebook, and I echo the advice. If you look at the list, one word changes the course of the project, the word but. We all have our buts in life. Some big, some small, but they’re there, and we know it.

So, try this exercise: take a sheet of paper and fold it in thirds lengthwise. In the left column, write your story goals. In the middle, jot down your go-to but-excuse. Now, ask yourself: How can I shrink my but? You’re allowed to laugh at this question. I even recommend saying it out loud for the full effect. At the right of your paper, say what you intend to do to shrink your but.

Believe in yourself. Believe your story. Believe in your ability. Doubt is at the heart of excuses. And you have no reason to doubt yourself.

Your story is yours for a reason, and only you can write it the way it was meant to be told. If you need me, I’m here to help you.