8 Ways to Rationalize Not Writing

I should be writing right now.

That’s something I find myself saying a lot. I say it way more often than I actually listen to myself and start to write. I’m an expert in procrastination and rationalizing my reasons not to write. Here’s some of my rationalization favorites:

1. I’m so tired/stressed/overwhelmed right now that if I tried to write, anything I wrote would just be total crap.
This is bullshit. Often it just takes the simple act of getting started and lines start to get written. It’s like magic… you sit down to write, and writing happens. Insane, I tell you! I spent basically all of undergrad feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and sleep deprived (hooray for double majors!), and I still got all my work done. And (usually) did well. And even if what I wrote that day WAS total crap, there’s a little thing called revision to fix it all later. “I’ll fix it later” really is a wonderful mantra.

2. I’m in the middle of [insert book title, or better yet, book series], and I should finish that off before I start a new writing project, because otherwise I’ll get distracted from the book and forget what’s been happening.
There’s probably a reason why I decided to finally pick up Harry Potter this past spring. On book six now! But yeah. It’s called “read a little after that night’s writing session.” Problem easily solved. And yet it’s one of my favorite excuses.

3. The cats like to climb all over my desk and my chair, so I can never get any work done.
Coffeeshop, anyone? Library, perhaps? Or even just “work from the couch”?

4. Updating my website or posting to twitter counts as being “writing related” because it’s part of the whole “self-marketing” thing.
Because it will do a LOT of good trying to get local theatre companies to learn more about me if I never have anything to actually send them. And as you can see, I’ve had trouble lately even feeling like I have something inetersting enough to blog about. Still, this is a particularly dangerous excuse, because techically I am doing something tangentially related to writing, which can easily be rationalized into feelings of productivity. Ohhh yes.

5. Watching this movie or tv show or reading this book is helping me research my next play.
This is something that totally CAN be true. Research is good and often necessary before diving into the writing stage. But there’s a point where it becomes a convenient way to put off starting the actual writing. I’m good at this one because it’s kind of related to #2 on this list, only it’s much easier to rationalize because the time-waster is at least somewhat writing related.

6. I don’t have to get this done for another three weeks because that’s when my writing group is meeting next.
This one is probably my biggest problem. I’m terrible at getting things done if I don’t have a deadline staring me in the face. Then I inevitably stress out and churn something together as it gets down to the wire. I have to stop working like this. Or at least get better at pacing myself.

7. I suddenly need to vacuum the living room rug, scrub out the bathroom sink, do the dishes, and organize my bookshelf by genre, author, and book size.
I think one speaks for itself.

8. I am suddenly obsessed with these videos of people playing 80s and 90s hits on Mario Paint and I need to watch them for an hour while Final Draft sits open in another window.
This almost killed me when I was working on the final paper for my Pulitzer Prize-Winning Plays class.

Does anyone else out there have any other favorite forms of rationalization? Or any tips on combatting them and just getting started?

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3 Comments

Filed under playwriting

3 responses to “8 Ways to Rationalize Not Writing

  1. My method is simple write every day, at the same time in the same place.

    Making this commitment (for me its first thing in the morning before the noise of the world enters my brain) for at least a week creates a muscle memory as well as a habit that when broken actually creates guilt. It only requires 15 – 30 minutes and makes the day feel like you have accomplished what you really needed to do.

    I believe writing is similar to prayer

  2. Rationalization & Justification, I actually majored in that. I give free lessons in it as well 🙂

  3. Pingback: New Rep and new play | Colleen M. Hughes

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