My ‘why I can’t write’ excuses — and what I did about them

I’ve made a good living as a freelance non-fiction writer, but my heart has always thumped hardest when I contemplate a fiction writer’s life. However, I didn’t write fiction for years because of the following:

Five reasons I used as excuses

  1. My day job was writing. I didn’t want to “relax” in the evening by writing some more.
  2. I needed to brush up on skills. I hadn’t taken writing classes since college.
  3. None of my friends were fiction writers, so I couldn’t get honest, reliable feedback on my work.
  4. I didn’t have the time.
  5. I wasn’t very good.

So…which one of these is your excuse?

Pick it now, and have a good rationale handy as to why it’s stopping you, because I’m going to eviscerate each and every one of them…or at least tell you how I changed my life so I couldn’t make those excuses anymore. Continue reading

Running as a metaphor for writing

We’re sitting at a small table for two at a bakery cafe inside the mall when she shares her news. She’s written a book. After beating back months of reluctance, she’s finished it and is thinking of finding an editor.  I lean back to listen instead of leaning forward to instruct.

Today is a purely social engagement.There is no manuscript sitting between us as there has been every other time we’ve met. No sheets of paper slide back and forth as I explain my edits of her work and compare them to her original printouts. Today she just wants to talk.

We met when she was a student in my class. Now she’s graduated from the writing program and has finished her first book. I stare at her, expecting her to look different. She’s crossed the finish line while I haven’t even put my name in the race.

If we were runners, she’d be a marathoner. I’d be a sprinter. Continue reading

Lessons from behind the mic

In my other life, I ask questions. And I find people to answer those questions.

Part of my job involves interviewing people. After doing this for over 15 years, I realize:

  • Enthusiasm can trump education when it comes to describing what you know.
  • You can tell how well (or poorly) the interview will go in the first 15 seconds.
  • If the interviewee is reluctant to talk, don’t push to make it happen. It won’t be good.

What I learned about talking to people can be applied to a writing practice. Let’s take it step by step. Continue reading

Use it up, wear it out

Did I explain why I’ve never written a book? I think I did, earlier. But if you forgot, or this is our first time together, here’s what I said.

Not writing a book is my fault. The blame is on me.

I own my shame because a famous writer once pointed it out to me. She was a beloved children’s book author and, through a serious of oddball events, I drove her to the drugstore one afternoon in search of ointments best left unidentified.

In the course of a 20 minute conversation, as I got to know her, I relaxed enough to say, Continue reading