83 excuses for not writing

excuses for not writing

Reading time: Less than 3 minutes

Many of our excuses for not writing might sound convincing, if we don’t think about them too much. But when it comes right down to it, the only person we’re hurting is ourselves. Check out this list and see if any of these excuses for not writing are ones you’ve ever used.

  1. I’m too tired.
  2. My back hurts.
  3. I have to have the extended family over for dinner.
  4. My kids need help with their homework.
  5. I have tickets to a concert/play tonight.
  6. My fulltime job keeps me too busy.
  7. My boss needs a big report done by Friday.
  8. My volunteer job takes up too much time.
  9. I’m too hungry.
  10. No one helps me with the housework.
  11. I have to look after a sick family member.
  12. I keep getting interrupted by other people.
  13. It’s too noisy.
  14. My mind goes blank whenever I sit in front of the computer.
  15. I have too many social engagements.
  16. I don’t know what to write about.
  17. I don’t have enough big blocks of time for writing.
  18. I need to call my mom back.
  19. I don’t feel like writing.
  20. I haven’t checked Facebook in the last 30 minutes.
  21. I’m expecting an important email and I need to know if it’s arrived.
  22. I haven’t finished the research yet.
  23. My computer is frozen.
  24. I had too much to drink last night.
  25. My phone rings too often.
  26. I can’t concentrate.
  27. I have allergies.
  28. My desk is messy.
  29. I had to take in the drycleaning.
  30. Who am I to write about this?
  31. I kept meaning to do it but other things kept getting in the way.
  32. I’m too busy looking for an agent.
  33. I’m trying to find the writer’s guidelines.
  34. My eyes hurt.
  35. My grammar is bad.
  36. No one cares what I think.
  37. I’m too busy reading books about writing.
  38. I’m afraid that what I write won’t be any good.
  39. I have the flu.
  40. I had a bad sleep last night.
  41. My car broke down.
  42. My boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse and I had a fight.
  43. I have to take my cat/dog to the vet.
  44. I’m looking for my lunch receipt otherwise I won’t get reimbursed.
  45. My income tax is late and I have to finish it.
  46. The playoffs for my favourite team are on TV today and I NEED to watch them.
  47. My writing will never get published anyway, so what does it matter?
  48. It’s too cold.
  49. It’s too hot.
  50. I have other work to do.
  51. I need to finish this computer game, first.
  52. It’s my birthday.
  53. I don’t know enough about this subject.
  54. I’m too stressed.
  55. I have to clean the house.
  56. I have to clean the garage.
  57. All the good ideas have been taken.
  58. It’s too late to write.
  59. I have plenty of time to write; I can do it later.
  60. I need more time to relax.
  61. I can’t write under pressure.
  62. I can’t write without a deadline.
  63. I haven’t been inspired yet.
  64. There’s a plumber/electrician in the house and I need to be ready to talk to him.
  65. I’m too depressed.
  66. I need to post some more tweets.
  67. I don’t have enough coffee.
  68. No one will understand me.
  69. I need to print out new auto insurance cards.
  70. My parents didn’t encourage me to be creative enough when I was young.
  71. It takes too long to learn how to write well.
  72. I don’t like criticism.
  73. I don’t have anything to say.
  74. My chair is uncomfortable.
  75. Most writers get their work rejected by publishers anyway.
  76. I’ll do it when I have more time.
  77. So many writers are depressed!
  78. The vast majority of writers are poor and only get rejection letters.
  79. I don’t like competition.
  80. I’m shy. I don’t want people to know what I’m really thinking.
  81. I don’t like being criticized.
  82. I like editing but I HATE writing the first draft.
  83. I like writing a first draft but I don’t want to get started because I HATE editing.

Have you ever used any of these excuses? If so, the very best time to write is first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up. Why?

  • Your brain won’t be awake enough to feel fear or process excuses.
  • You won’t be disturbed by phone calls and the demands of others.
  • You’ll start your day by achieving something meaningful, which will make the rest of your day better.
  • You’ll be building a habit, which is far more sustainable and much stronger than willpower.

What are your very best excuses for not writing? How do you get around them? We can all learn from each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me by commenting below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)

Posted November 12th, 2013 in Power Writing

  • deanne

    I LOVE this post! It’s an all timer. Thank you so much–once again.

  • Mauren

    Most of these are just excuses to go for coffee without feeling guilty, and who would ever want to give up on those?

    The only challenging excuse for not writing that I have run into is #11: I have to look after a sick family member.

    What I learned from bashing my head against that one is that there are some things more important than writing. I felt very frustrated at times when I sacrificed writing time, income, and even an entire novel, but in the end I’m glad that I made the choices that I did.

    One thing I’ve learned as a writer is that while it’s wonderful to write in an organized way, sometimes there are dry spells so long you think you’ll never get back to it. But then you do, and you find out that the dry spell is now the ink that you write with. Even cleaning the garage. Number 36, “No one cares what I think,” is material for a whole novel.

    • Yes, given that the list was meant to be satirical, I shouldn’t have included #11. It’s one of the few excuses I view as legitimate. When my mother was dying I spent as much time as I could looking after her and I don’t regret a second of it.

      Re: dry spells, yes, they come. But I think they can be minimized if you show up for writing every day, regardless.

  • Monique Lusse

    Thanks, Daphne; the list is hilarious. Love #48 and #49…that covers it all!

    My best excuse is #30, “Who am I to write about this?” combined with #80, “I’m shy.”

    How I get around it is to set my timer for 55 minutes, sit my butt down, and write or stare at the blank screen, but I dedicate 55 minutes to write. So no matter what I come up with, I have a sense of completion around the writing.

    • So glad you enjoyed it! Your comment about having a sense of completion around writing is very wise!

  • Ann

    This is an awesome list. I believe I have used most of these excuses. I’m going to share this with my writing group members.

    • Please be sure to let us know if they come up with any more excuses for writing not covered here!

  • Jon Stark

    Wonderful collection. I see several old familiar friends. Funny though, when I started my version of Monique’s solution, most of them went away. Being disciplined to sit down and write, everyday, scares most of the doubt away.

    • Love your use of the verb “scares away.” That’s exactly what we need to do with doubt!

  • Chavi Beck

    Awesome list! Thanks for the laugh… and the dose
    of down-to-earth reality. One more excuse: I can’t write first thing in the
    morning! Because I have to get everyone off to school, and by the time they’re
    out I feel like I’ve put in a day already. But there is a solution… known as
    not doing any other computer work before the day’s assignment. No checking
    email, reading endless RSS, and all that. (I don’t have a Facebook account THANK
    THE ONE ABOVE.)

    Freelancing can get so tedious, I often complain
    about having to run my own marketing and billing departments. #78 rang so true;
    all these psychological barriers get us sabotaging ourselves.

    • Writing first thing in the morning is astonishingly helpful. Have you thought of trying to train yourself to wake up earlier and squeeze in 30 minutes before you kids get up? There’s something about the HUGE feeling of accomplishment you can get from this. I am writing a book now and I’m getting up at 5:30 am five days a week so I can get 30 minutes done before I do anything else. It works really well…

  • Christina

    OMG, how funny! I blog regularly for my husband’s homeopathic practice and teaching college. To share one of my tips for writing when I’d rather give one of the above mentioned (or not) excuses…when I have an idea, even if it requires more research, more writing prowess, more time or whatever it may be, I begin the idea by take notes or writing everything I can in the few minutes I have into a word document on my computer. I keep these in a folder called “blogs”. I probably have 40 of these started! Then when I have what I need to finish a specific topic, I go back to it and finish it up. This way, I always have something to work on, even when I have “writer’s block”.

    • This is such an excellent idea, Christina. The blank page terrifies so many people. You’ve just suggested a way around the problem by ensuring that the page is not blank when you start!