Writing Tip: Exclusion

Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.

J. K. Rowling

You and I need to have a talk. Yes, you, the writer who is using this blog (and others) as an excuse to not write. “I’m writing!” you tell your spouse. You know that’s not true. You know you’re just piddling around. Quit lying to them and to yourself. Write.

Your time is precious. You have a limited allotment of it, and you don’t know when you’ll run out. You could die of an aortic dissection in the next hour and then where would your stories be? Faded to transparency like Marty McFly, invisible to the world as if they had never existed. So write.

Yes, the chores will pile up. Your spouse/significant other will resent you at times. You may resent yourself at times. But priorities must be set and agreements must be made, because when you publish your work (be it online for free or for pay or through a publisher or by yourself) they will be proud of you. You will have accomplished something that others don’t because they can’t. Not everyone can write a story, but you can. So write.

Push away he outside distractions – including the Internet. Do not leave it on because you need to do “research”. You know where that leads; to that place where you lie to yourself and others. Jennifer and I have what we call Writing Nights, where she puts our son to bed and does not distract me with things. She retreats to the bedroom to read or downstairs to watch TV, while I sequester myself in the office – not in bed – and write. The point is to exclude the world and its demands so that the writing can get done. Because it needs to be done. So write.

There are stories in there, and they need to come out. So for all values of n except pen and paper (or keyboard and screen), discard n and write.