I know the age old story—we’ve heard it all before. There’s always a million reasons why people who should be writing aren’t, ranging from A to Z, and one hears them time and time again. However, with it being NaNoWriMo so unspeakably soon, I’d just like to say my only response to all the reasons and excuses and pretenses is a firm, flat, and resounding NO. The very fact that you have time to talk about not having time means there is a discrepancy in your story, dear sir, and I kid you not it shall be dealt with yes it shall.

Writing is one of those things where, should you like to make a career of it (or at least get a bit of recognition), someone isn’t going to walk up, hire you to write a book and then proceed to give you enough free time to do so. No, unless you’re a bored housewife or unemployed and living at home or in some other position in which you can slack and still get some food out of it at the end of the day, you are going to have other priorities over writing. But if you love writing then the fact is this—you make time. This sounds hard, and maybe a little cruel, but really, it’s not. Days are longer than people give them credit, and you should take advantage of every second.

Though I may be singing to the choir, I love writing. The first thing I ever wrote recreationally (unknowingly, and much to my embarrassment) was a horrible, horrible fanfic, and I did it to get closer to a cousin who liked the continuity it was based on. In the end, I got caught up in my own story and OCs and to call it a fanfic after a point might have been pushing it. I was eleven years old and I had stumbled on this whole wide world of words that had seemed so distant before, and I was in awe. And the idea of abandoning that world for more than a day at a time is practically debilitating.

Making time isn’t that difficult. On some days I wake up an hour earlier just to get fingers to keys, and more often than not, I stay up far later than is reasonable so what inspiration I have isn’t lost to the morrow. And yes, I have a sleep debt because of it. I work it off on the weekend and rack it up during the week, but in spite of miserable sleeping habits, sparodic eating habits, and an all-round eclectic approach to just generally not dying, I still do well in school, still do my homework, still do SAT tutoring for two hours three days a week, still do writing workshop on Saturdays, and still take naps on sunny afternoons when I feel overcome by stupor. The point is, writing takes dedication. Life doesn’t stop for anybody, and so to put writing on the backburner is of course your personal choice, and rarely is it something that is impossible for you to work around if you try.

The best way to write is by being an antisocial hermit—say what you like, but it works. Jot stuff down during meals, ignore phone calls from your friends to avoid temptation, and don’t let your family members drag you to the movies against your will. Hell, I have a few friends who tell me (though I wish they hadn’t) that they read in the bathroom, so why don’t you leave a pen and notepad in there for the same purpose? If you’re going on any trip of sufficient length (fifteen minutes is usually enough for me, though I tend to get sucked in by passing scenery) then write then. If you know you’re going to be waiting somewhere for a while, like at an airport or in a doctor’s office, need I repeat what you should do? If you want to write, then there is always time to do it. Often, it’s the will and inspiration that are lacking, but the world outside your mind tireless.

Looking for inspiration is tough, but finding it isn’t (how’s that for an ice cream cone for ya?) I got the inspiration for one story from the Evil Overlord List—another, from watching an episode of Zero Punctuation. Another from a wiki article on Belphegor, another from this dubious yaoi story I found through random linking, and yet another from a necklace I got in Thailand that had my name on a grain of rice. Even if they seem stupid, and even when they pop into your head and you don’t immediately say, “Le gasp! Eet shall be mah master-peeze!” that does not matter! As a writer it is your job to make it awesome! There is no such thing as a bad story—only bad execution.

But it’s true—getting yourself into that mindset is hard, and stressing about it makes it harder, so keep in mind, even when you’re writing, you don’t have to write a lot. We can’t all write twenty thousand words a week, nor should all of us attempt to (though it’s a wonderful thing when you can manage). The goal should be to write at all. The one document that is always open on my desktop is a thousand pages and it is where I put all the ideas, lines, passages, and dialogues that have no context and nowhere else to go. Even when I don’t feel particularly up to writing the next Othello, I jot a couple of lines in there every day without fail—by and large they are inaccessible to all but me, but so what? Until your words have been sculpted out of their ugly marble brick into a perfect replica of Michaelangelo’s David that we all know they can be, they are only for you, and you need to be able to use them. But I implore you, don’t let your days go on without words. My father always tells me there’s nothing more powerful than a word made real, and even if I don’t always agree with him, I am just as beguiled by them—and I can’t imagine a world in which people aren’t putting them to paper.

So write.

Do it.

Tagged as:


  1. Snow White Queen on 3 October 2011, 21:05 said:

    ^ THIS.

    Thanks for such a helpful, honest article. I think it applies to nearly everyone on this site, myself included. :)

  2. Licht on 4 October 2011, 00:33 said:

    To take up on your final sentence: Words which aren’t voiced (or put on paper) are worth nothing, they don’t exist.
    You might have the best story, the greatest idea, the one-right-thing in your head, but as long as it just exists in there, it’s nothing. You die. It goes with you. No one will ever know. It can’t reach, it can’t inspire anyone.
    And that’s everything. Words which are voiced are worth everything, they can set anything into motion.

    Looking forward to hearing what the others have to say.

  3. Repinuj on 4 October 2011, 09:18 said:

    I hate it when my conscience writes articles for this site. LOL.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt. Much needed. (In fact, I was coming here to find something to distract myself with but…now I’m logging off to go write.)

  4. dragonarya on 4 October 2011, 10:44 said:

    Geh. I know. I know… Went through this once, just sobered up and told myself to get serious, and… well. Serious I got, and now I’ve been reminded to get serious all over again. Off I go!

  5. Alyssa on 5 October 2011, 06:15 said:

    What if I’m in college then? I could onl make time for it on the weekends since college eats away my time.

  6. Inkblot on 5 October 2011, 09:29 said:

    The humiliating kick in the butt I so desperately needed. You rock, man. In fact, this moment is going in your Awesome Thread, bro-ski.

  7. Curly on 5 October 2011, 19:12 said:

    Yes. Yes I do need to get motivated. Mostly because I am good looking, a huge procrastinator and lazy. Mostly the last two. But now I shalt write thanks to this awesome article, it’s pretty much summed it all up for me. Cheers, Beldam, motivativational speaker in the cards anywhere?

  8. Licht on 8 October 2011, 04:35 said:

    You know, I’ve been thinking about this. And actually I’m currently not writing (much) because I’m editing (and dismissing) other people’s work.

    There is a rule of thumb that says:
    Either you are a reader or a writer.
    Either you are an editor or you are a writer.

    Because for each you need another mindset, another view on writing.

    What do you think?

  9. Beldam on 8 October 2011, 04:57 said:

    I think you’re right—readers and writers aren’t necessarily the same type of people. I wrote this article largely for those who enjoy writing, and may prefer it to reading, but always say they don’t have time to actually do it. People who would rather read or edit stuff probably should. If you don’t love writing the most, then you should do what you do love.

    You can definitley have both mindsets, though. Though I haven’t been reading much recently, I personally enjoy editting other people’s work, and when it’s particularly bad I usually think of things that could fix it, which generally helps my own writing—so it helps keep the wheels churning. This habit is also what makes it so hard for me to read—I usually get an idea every few pages, so I have to set the book down for large spaces of time to jot my own ideas down. I definitley tend more towards ‘writing’ tendencies, so maybe it’s the mindset of the individual going in that changes things.

    However, you mentioned that you’re not writing ‘much’—like I said, writing at all should be the goal, not necessarily writing a lot. I find words have a tendency to go stale if you leave them too long, so just writing—regardless of word count—tends to keep that feeling at bay.

  10. Steph (what is left) on 11 October 2011, 01:19 said:

    Love you, Beldam. This was just what I needed!

  11. BlackStar on 26 October 2011, 13:22 said:

    Really useful article. Thanks so much!

  12. Just a Dumbschmoe on 5 April 2012, 18:09 said:

    For quite a while, I noted there’s difference between fiction and real life. In real life there are no rules. Fiction tends to have many rules. And too many damn rules for each genre. What some writers did, is that they made their own rules accordingly to their works of fiction. Within the guidelines of fiction writing. What the weak sauce is, anything can happen and so forth.

    I am not talking about fiction relativity. And I will leave it at that.

    Personally, I leave another person’s writing alone, unless I give him/her my feedback. What my thoughts are, without beating around the bush. I don’t edit other people’s writing.

    When it comes to writing, you would have to give. And be a little crazy. But sometimes a writer can be guilty of cheating a reader, confusing the hell out of the reader or doing ass pull. Putting together a decent fiction can be somewhat tad tricky.