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Trash Those Justifications

Writers’ Advice Blog 1 May 22 by Lorenzo Samuel, author of speculative fiction writings. In the 1 Apr 22 issue Writers’ Advice Blog, we went over persistence. In this issue of our advice blog, we’ll take up justifications writers use to excuse their indecisive intentions, i.e., not writing regularly.

In my dictionary we find the definition of justification: to show being just or right; the showing of good or lawful grounds for; a fact that vindicates something. Let’s go a bit further and embellish the definition with an understanding of “vindication:” a clearing from criticism, guilt, blame or suspicion; The sense that we use “justify” here is to vindicate, i.e., clear from criticism, blame, guilt or suspicion.

Perhaps it would be better to say, “attempted justification,” for justify can have positive implication. Is this positive? A wife catches her husband ogling a beautiful woman at the next table in a restaurant. He responds that he was simply gazing around. That’s a justification for his ogling the woman. You decide ‒ true or false?

Let’s list some justifications for not writing on a schedule. I need to spend more time with my spouse, my kids, etc. I get bored easily. I watch TV shows in the evening to relax before going to bed. Writing makes me hungry, and I need to lose weight. I’m just full up with things I have to do. I lack the talent to get published. It’s a waste of time when there is so much else to do. I’ve run out of ideas. I get writers’ block easily. I bowl two nights a week. It’s so easy to get distracted. It’s not as easy as I thought. I don’ have a place to write where I won’t be bothered. I don’t need the money anyway. I already make plenty of moola. It's too much work. Any of these could be true or false, but that’s not the point. The crux is do they get in the way of your decision to write.

I could go on for pages for there are as many justifications not to write as there are people trying to, probably more. When he began writing, Stephen King worked 3 hours a night despite holding a day job to support his family. Two situations helped him to shove potential justifications to the side: 1. he felt fueled with a passion to write and get published. 2. assistance from his spouse by provision of encouragement and help by taking on tasks that would otherwise distract him. His first 3 or 4 novels were rejected by the publisher, yet he continued to write 3 hours a night. You know what happened. He became among the most famous authors of the modern era.

Blow your distractions out of the water. Nothing like being unreasonable to get the job done. Here’s how to proceed ‒ 1. Set writing as your #1 priority. 2. Go public; do not write in secret. 3. Change your identity; you are a writer, not your day job designation. 4. Tell people what you are doing; it is important that they know. Keep them posted on your progress. 5. Link up to a blog like this one. 6. Read books on writing. 7. Read published novels to see how authors write. 8. Dedicate yourself to the craft of writing.

Example: A young mother gets up every day at 5 a.m. and writes for an hour before getting her kids ready for school and going to work herself. She reads fiction during her lunch hour and makes notes on the techniques used by other writers. Sound plausible? Well, she has her personal time prioritized. She does not deviate from her dream. She is dedicated and motivated.

You can be also. Read next month’s blog (to post around 1 June) for suggestions on ways to motivate your author-self.

Note: The book of short speculative fiction "Eve of Valor: 25 Tales" is available on Amazon. Click here.

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