Why you shouldn’t be a writer

For every person out there who writes the book he’s dreaming of, ten more sit on their hands and whine. Trust me. I hear from them every day.

I’ll never get published anyway, so why bother?

I work 12-hour days. I’m exhausted.

I have kids and a husband and a full-time job.

Good, then go take a nap and quit bitching about the novel in your head. The rest of us stay up late and get up early. We function on four hours of sleep (sometimes less) and all but kill ourselves to get the words onto the fucking pages. Because. We. Must.

Because the burn – the desire to write – is so great, we can’t sleep anyway.

I’m officially declaring war on bullshit excuses

I work with writers who get up at 3 a.m. and write until they have to get the kids off to school. Some stay up until dawn instead. A few do both. Some writers use their lunch breaks. Some record their words on their cell phones during the commute.

“My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was twelve,” Ray Bradbury once said. “So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.”

But I’ll be too tired to work.

But my kids need me.

But my relationship with my spouse will suffer.

Really? Your family won’t understand if you need an hour or two to yourself every day to do what you love? You can’t muscle through a workday on too little sleep? Or is the truth simply you’re afraid you’ll fail?

Ernest Hemingway – Nobel Prize in Literature, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Bronze Star Medal – said the most terrifying thing he ever encountered was “a blank sheet of paper.”

Writing is hard. It’s not lucrative. It’s isolating and often heartbreaking. So if you’re not getting it done, don’t beat yourself up.

Not everyone is meant to write

Not everyone has the fire, hears the thunder, feels the promise of the moonlight.

And that’s okay.

But the rest of us can’t help it.

Nelson Algren, who won the National Book award for his novel The Man With the Golden Arm, spent five months in jail for stealing a typewriter. That is dedication.

“In an unmoored life like mine, sleep and hunger and work arrange themselves to suit themselves, without consulting me,” Kurt Vonnegut said.

Perhaps the late, great E.B. White said it best: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

So decide. Are you finally ready to write your book?

No one one will blame you if you’re not.

But if you are, take every excuse and flush it. Pick up the pen, the keyboard, the freaking crayon, and get to work.

Then go here to see what we can do to help you WRITE.


Subscribe in the upper right hand corner and grab my free book A Writer’s Voice, designed to help you write like YOU. So you can say what you want to say, how you want to say it – and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. (And quit writing like a pretentious asshat). It matters.