Top 10 Lies Idle Writers Like to Tell

People who write well are supposed to be creative. However sometimes creative juices get used to find new ways to say, “I’m procrastinating” instead of getting the writing done. It can sound like this.

10) I’m marketingWriting - Keys - 10

Marketing has its importance, but it is equally important to have writing to market. Jon Morrow has even said spend 25% of your time writing great content and 75% of your time marketing. However, I don’t think he meant write a few items and market like crazy hoping for results. Consistency and credits will speak louder than slick marketing.

9) I’m planning the launch of my website/blog tour

Over-emphasis can be placed on the importance of having a website (or blog) to the point that it makes people feel like it has to look perfect before they work on having something to say. Planning eight to ten posts before starting a blog is a great way to start strong. Even a regular website will need fresh content from time to time. Don’t let planning become more important than the writing.

8) I am organizing my thoughts and/or workspace.

This one is really akin to, “I’m organizing my sock drawer.” Being organized is good, but spending months organizing will not produce better writing. Successful people organize in bursts or throughout the day, making it a habit. You can find some tips that worked for me here: Organize: 5 ways in 15 minutes a day.

7) I am waiting to hear back from the editor/publisher/ (the President)

While waiting to hear back from one source, go through your idea file and begin working on other ideas. It’s also a good idea to work on another targeted approach for the next place you’d like to submit the work that’s out, if it gets rejected. This way you keep the process going, and you won’t be so upset when something gets rejected (instead, look it over, make sure you didn’t miss anything, then yell, “Next!”).

6) I am rewriting

Rewriting is writing. You can be proud of that. Unless you’re not really working on anything and you just mention that project you started months ago when people ask what you’re working on. Rewriting makes it sound like you’re further along than you really are.

5) I’m plotting my story/planning different types of articles.Writing: Shorts and Stats

I advocate always having many ideas popping at one time. Having an idea list, a title list, and clippings from newspapers is great. But, don’t get so caught up in the process that you never see anything through to completion. Always take a few ideas and develop them with the goal of getting them to a point where they can be sold. I covered this balancing act in my last post.

4) I’m experiencing life, so I can write about it later.

I also believe in finding fresh ideas through observing life. Yet, anything that draws you away from writing for large amounts of time is probably not as helpful. Always be looking at life with a writer’s eye. Take tons of notes and set aside time to develop them into ideas.

3) I’m setting up my Twitter /LinkedIn /Facebook page.

Go ahead and set them up, but don’t take forever. You can tweak them as you go along. The best thing you can do to make them look good is having writing clips to add to them.

2) I’m reading up on the craft of writing.Writer's Reality Check - Leather bound book

I know studying your craft is important; but a chapter a day or a book a month is far better than reading six books and never putting the principles into practice. That is like reading all about playing a piano, but never banging on the keys. You might know a lot, but you won’t be able to play your first note.

And # 1 is:

1) I’m waiting for the inspiration to return.

If writers always waited around for inspiration, the profession would be called waiting. Some writers have gone as far as saying, “The first draft will always be crap.” (OK, so Hemingway put it a little stronger than that). Give yourself permission to write below par, and keep your writing going. Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”

At the core of all of these “lies” is procrastinating and then calling it something else. I may not write every single day, but this blog has a great side benefit. I decided to post once a week and I’ve stuck to that. This keeps me writing and working on other things as well. All of the things listed can be good practices, just don’t let any of them stand in the way of your words.

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13 comments on “Top 10 Lies Idle Writers Like to Tell
  1. lindaricke says:

    Too true! Great post. I felt guilty and comforted all at the same time. Good work!

  2. Doris Emmett says:

    I am enjoying the “anticipation of writing” too much to actually write. This is one of mine…I get creative and think of things to write about…jot them down and just keep jotting. The writing and actually pulling it together…can be a little scary because it might not be as great as the anticipation…right? Well, I found out the only way to know…is to put it down…so a good swift kick and a few choice expletives) …and the fingers are writing 🙂

    • Hi Doris, I understand this comment. Some ideas come to us fleshed out and ready to write while others have to sit for a while. I wrote about this balance a few weeks ago, in a post and related it to a slow-cooker ( http://wp.me/p1sYP4-xF ). The trick is to be working on some ideas and having lots of others brewing. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I’m writing two books at once so I have no excuses, along with blogging it keeps me focused. Your post is a good reminder to keep on the job and not to let oneself become distracted.
    Laurie.

  4. Julie Luek says:

    Yup, sometimes I get very caught up in doing a lot of “about writing” instead of actual writing. It is indeed a discipline and an act of will to sit down and just write. I added your blog to my Bloglovin’ feed. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  5. Erica says:

    Another great post, Peter. My personal favorite/downfall: “I’m letting it marinate.” As in “I’m letting my subconscious work on the problem while I play Halo.”

  6. dana mentink says:

    Too true, Peter. I think I might be guilty of using a few of these myself, from time to time!

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