by Molly Ovenden, Creative Writing Coach
Writing is a beneficial means of communication and it can be a real gift to others. It can be a therapeutic tool for processing, a fun hobby and a varied, money-making side hustle. Because it’s creative pursuit, however, we can often have a lot of resistance toward it. Depending on how supportive important people in our past have been, even if you had the best creative writing teacher, there might have been one negative comment from an influential adult that set you against writing as a worthwhile use of your time and effort. Whether it is for your entertainment or others’, or to communicate information, your writing can be a gift.
Consider the following reasons for why people don’t write and notice if any of these resonate with you.
- I don’t have enough money.
Money is so often something that can hold us back. This scarcity mindset related to money can easily be an excuse we are used to telling ourselves. Fortunately, writing does not require spending much money, if any at all. You can write your ideas on scraps of paper, dollar store notebooks, a library computer, or even a friend or family member’s computer. Sometimes we use not having enough money as an excuse even when it’s not directly related to the things we’re feeling resistance toward because it’s one that is generally accepted by others.
Writing does take time, however. Time that you could be spending making money. Maybe you’ve felt like you don’t have enough time for a hobby such as writing because it couldn’t earn you money, so it’s a waste. But, what if you could actually make money with your writing? Making money by writing could give you money that you could in turn re-invest into the writing that you truly would love to do. You could write for magazines. Check a newsstand, or the library, for half a dozen magazines you enjoy reading and look on their websites for submission guidelines. Brainstorm a few ideas for stories that might fit well with each of those magazines that you could pitch to the content editors and go from there. There are many blog websites that you can start writing on for free about subjects that you are interested in.
What do you spend your money on? This will show you what is important to you. If you truly want to write, you will find ways to use your money to work toward your creative writing goals.
- I don’t have enough time.
Every task that we have will spontaneously expand or contract into the space of our schedule that we give it. Everyone in the world has the same amount of time each day: 1,440 minutes in a 24 hour period of time. We get to choose how we spend this time. And we have freedom to make decisions about priorities. Often our priorities, however, can easily migrate into doing things for other people instead of valuing what is important to ourselves. Being in charge of carpooling, preparing meals, offering my truck to help all my friends and family move, volunteering for local charities that need help can be easy asks when we don’t value creative writing.
Our priorities can get easily blurred or numbed out with procrastination and self-fulfilling prophecies. If you lean on the excuse and tell yourself the story about how you do not have enough time, you will believe this. Look at your schedule for a day and take notes throughout the day of how you use your time. Are there blocks, or even snippets, of time that you are using inefficiently or on doing something that isn’t actually a priority for you?
If you find that you are wasting your time and using a perceived lack of time as an excuse, then try replacing even five minutes of that time to spend by working on writing your own creative projects. If writing is something that you want to do, you will find time to do it.
- I don’t have a valuable story to tell.
This is just not true. If you are alive and breathing, you’re not finished on this earth and you offer value to the world, simply by being you. This might sound cheesy, but it’s true. You are valuable. You are unique. You see and experience life from your individual perspective. Because you are you, people can benefit from the gift of your viewpoint.
Think about a time when understanding a concept was difficult until finally, one day someone new explained it and it clicked! When you share your story, you could help people experience that breakthrough because your point of view resonates with them.
You are creative. You are valuable. Your story is worth telling. Each day you create the life that you are living. You can choose to take steps toward your dreams and your health, or you can choose to stay where you are, creating a repeat of the days that aren’t how you want to live your life.
- I don’t have talent for writing.
You say, “I’m not creative. I’m not like so-and-so on the literary arts magazine staff in high school.” No, you aren’t like so-and-so, because you are you. You bring a unique background and conglomerate of skill sets and talents that can help you write.
If you are not writing, it’s a safe bet to say that you’re not a writer. A writer is someone who writes. If you are reading this, however, you’re likely interested in being a writer. If you want to write more than your current writing practices, then, you’re in the right place. Maybe it’s fear that has been holding you back. If you’ve believed for long enough that you should be afraid you aren’t talented enough to write, you’re probably paralysed by this fear. Try this: Pause for a moment and set that belief aside.
Writing is a skill that you can learn. When you learn to regularly access the creative areas in your mind, you will have developed a habit of creativity that you can nurture over a lifetime. While it is true that there are some people for whom writing may come naturally, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have to work at it. Everyone can improve their writing. If you want to write, it is possible. It takes putting one word after another on the page. Once you’re habitually writing, you are more likely to see and believe that you are more talented and capable that you initially thought.
- I don’t have a real reason to write.
There are many reasons to write. What is yours? If you are reading articles about why you don’t write, you might be feeling directionless, like you don’t have a big and beautiful project with which to share your words with the world. It’s true that if you don’t have purpose, you can feel lost and simply tread the literary waters feeling, maybe even as extreme as despair.
On a road trip, if you don’t have a map and don’t know where you’re going, it’s very easy to feel scared, lost, overwhelmed, like the world is coming against you. But, when you have a plan and understand the purpose that you’re on the trip in the first place, then the journey is more enjoyable.
In school, students are usually given a writing project or assignment to help them learn a concept. They may be given a creative writing assignment to write a popular nursery rhyme in modern day language with a new cast of characters to learn the elements of plot. They may be given an assignment to write the rock cycle in a creative way to explain to their grandpa or their little sister. With the purpose for their assignment, it seems valuable.
What is a topic that you know a lot about, would like to learn about or a life event that you want to share with someone? What might it look like to begin writing about it? Perhaps you could grab a new notebook from the local stationery shop and write your new project title on it. Maybe it’s as simple as, “My Daily Thoughts About Life: What I Love and What I Hate.”
Next steps I can take…If you feel like you’ve worn out your excuses and that you are ready to take next steps toward being the writer you want to be, maybe among your next steps could be working with a creative writing coach. If you realize that you’ve been believing lies about your abilities and value as a writer and who you are and what I’m capable of doing, and not doing, in relation to writing, working with a creative writing coach could be the next step on your path toward creative development and healthy living.