Well. I’m a little red-faced today. The crime scene series will continue. As soon as I find it. Don’t worry, I have backups of backups. I just transferred everything to a new computer this week and apparently missed a few files. Embarrassing! And entirely my fault.
But it got me to thinking.
I like excuses. They seem to provide lubricant for slipping out of situations in which I am at fault. However, I try hard not to make excuses because, really, who cares? They don’t change the failure, right? They can’t undo a missing post, a lost opportunity, or a broken promise. Excuses might appease and reduce the fallout, but doesn’t let us own our mistakes and face them.
For that, we need to take responsibility.
As writers, aren’t excuses just easier?
- I was too busy to write today.
- The boss needed me so I couldn’t write.
- The kids are sick so I was too tired to write.
- I just wasn’t feeling it today. Maybe tomorrow.
Who are we appeasing? Ourselves, of course. We don’t want to acknowledge our failure or our lack of commitment. It’s easier to excuse ourselves to ourselves than admit we blew it.
What would it look like if we take responsibility instead?
- I chose to spend my time elsewhere.
- I elected to focus on something else.
- I decided not to write while the kids napped.
- I didn’t care enough to sit down and start.
It might sound a little harsh, but it’s honest, right? And it also requires us to own up to our choices rather than hide behind circumstances or other people.
Life does sometimes get in the way. That’s just a fact. But taking responsibility rather than making excuses gives a much better picture of our writing life and a much better gauge of our resistance.
Do you make excuses for not writing? I still do, even as I want to take responsibility instead. How do you feel after you tell yourself an excuse? A little relieved? A little dirty? I do, and ashamed besides.
How does it feel different to take responsibility? For me it feels a bit grim, but also honest, like a hard look in the mirror. Sometimes it’s clear there wasn’t much I could do. Most of the time, what’s clear is that I was lazy, uncommitted, or scared. Then I get a little mad. Taking responsibility has gotten me back out of bed to do my daily writing because I don’t want to see myself as a person who can’t fulfill her commitments.
For the next week or two, listen to what you tell yourself. Examine the excuses and rephrase them as taking responsibility. If you need help, call your accountability partner (or get one). Holding myself accountable to another person who wouldn’t accept excuses was how I began to understand the whole subject in the first place.
If you struggle to get your writing done, ditch the excuses, take responsibility, and get a little mad.
Which positive outcomes might we find by moving from excuses to responsibility?