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8 Common Excuses For Writer's Block And How To Recognise Them

Updated: Jul 14

Whenever I look at a screen or piece of paper and think oh man I cannot write, which isn't often, I am reminded to look beneath the affliction commonly known as writer's block. I look at my excuses and what is really going on. I consider my vulnerability and resistance and ask - what is it telling me?

Writer's Block

I am just like you. I write, I stop, and I write again. There is always stuff going on, that is life. I have learned to go deeper and consider more about who I am and why I feel the way that I do.

Journaling and walking remain my best friends, and with them, I can traverse the realms of writing and what holds me back. I could ask my two furry friends Marley Moo and Angel, but I think they are oblivious to my plight.

Let's explore your excuses for not writing and writer's block

There are many reasons people feel that they have writer’s block. We will explore a few, and you may find more things come up for you, my advice is to:-

  • Feel into them

  • Dig deeper

  • Write and reflect

  • Have fun discovering you and your foibles

What kind of excuses can you think of

Let's start with excuses. Whenever I do this I cringe, reframe and think of a better way, but for fun here are a few...

  • My dog insisted on being my 'writing assistant' and kept barking out all the wrong words

  • My dog staged a protest and went on a 'pawsitive' strike against the excessive use of my computer

  • My dog mistook my keyboard for a tree, and now it's all wet and unusable

  • My dog stole all my writing inspiration and buried it in the garden. I've been digging for ideas, but so far, all I've found are old tennis balls

Ok, I’m being silly. But you know there is a half-truth in some of these, at least for me. Angel Dog does put her paws on my keyboard when I am writing, and it is distracting. However, I take it as a sign to stop, pause, go for a walk and get some well-earned reflection time.

Let’s take a look at some common excuses for writer’s block, and in each, I’m going to ask you to consider one thing and invite you to explore what each excuse means to you in your life right now.

  • Remember how you do anything is how you do everything and

  • To look at what else is going on in your life

  • Explore your resistance and ask what it is telling you

  • Understand your writing process, so you can work in the best way for you

8 common excuses for writer’s block

1. There is too much going on

  • Writing a book seems overwhelming

  • Writing a book is not important

  • Before I finish one thing there is another thing that needs doing

  • There are too many deadlines

  • I’m being spread too thin

  • If one more person tells me that their work should take priority

  • People keep interrupting me

Look at the environment in which you are living and working, is it conducive to you being a writer? By environment, I don’t just mean the bricks and mortar of your home or office I mean all aspects of everything that is in it.

2. I don’t have the time for this right now

  • I’m always rushing

  • I just don’t have time for this; there are too many other things that need to be done first

  • Other people hold me up by not delivering on time

  • I wish people would stop wasting my time

I’m not a time management expert like Mike Gardner (sadly Mike is no longer with us, but the link does work) and if time is your thief then look at some of his advice. Here’s what I do. I get up to write for an hour and then get on with my day. In fact, I look at my diary and prioritise ‘stuff’, if it’s not essential, I let it go.

3. No one will be interested in what I have to say

  • People usually ignore what I say, why would they be interested in my book

  • My life seems normal, why would anyone want to hear what I have to say about mine

  • My writing is worthless

  • Why would anyone be interested in me, I’m nobody

Everyone I meet has an incredible story. What is often missing is the confidence to tell it. You do not have to write to publish; you may want to write to get ‘stuff’ out of your system. Write a stories list, pick one and write the story. Then consider how you could use them in posts, a blog or in some other way before you write your memoir. The feedback you get will help you to build your confidence.

4. No idea or too many ideas

  • Everyone tells me to write a book, but I have no idea what to write

  • I’ve got so many ideas I don’t know where to start

  • I can’t focus on which approach

  • How am I supposed to find the Idea?

Books are written for a number of reasons, find the why, and the idea will come to you. I call it the right book for right now. Read this blog on how to start your story, and hopefully, it will inspire you.

5. I don't believe I can do this

  • I am not a writer

  • Fear of rejection – people might judge me

  • Fear of success – what if my book is a huge success

  • Fear of failure – what if no one buys my book

Fear is such a small word and stops so many people from doing what they are here to share. Take the word fear and make it mean something else. Explore your resistance. What lies beneath these fearful words? Exploring resistance is one of my favourite ways of working with affirmations. For example, if 'I am an awesome storyteller' makes you feel queasy, explore that feeling and resistance.

6. I can’t see where my writing fits with what I am doing

  • I’ve got a story, but it doesn’t seem to fit with my business

  • I’ve started writing, and there’s no link to what I’m doing, what’s the point

  • I’m not sure who would read this book

There is always an angle. Think about where you want to go with your business or your life.

  • What is the core message of your business?

  • What is the core message of your book?

  • How will your book help your reader?

  • What is the result that you want your reader to get from reading your book?

Create a vision. Where do you want to be a year from now? See it, feel it, hear it and know it. You may find that all you want to do is write your memoir and that's it. Or you may be on the brink of pivoting, so explore that.

7. My writing is not good enough, and it's not flowing

  • I need this book to be perfect, and I am not a writer

  • I am trying to write, but I just feel blocked

  • I keep trying, and when I read it back, it just seems rubbish

  • I find writing hard

Often writers forget that first drafts are rubbish and that the magic comes from editing. They also didn’t create an outline, consider the structure of the narrative arc, theme or any number of things. Possibly, it’s the wrong book, and maybe you are aiming for perfectionism instead of done. The other thing that I feel about this is how people describe themselves.

Oh, I’m not a writer. I can’t call myself an author if I am self-published. Own the title of writer. If you are writing, you are a writer. Like I said earlier writing is a practice, it will get better.

Another thing I want to say and I'll write an article about this is that memoirs are here to be savoured not planned, written and published in 90 days. Stay with it.

8. The right words are not coming

  • I am just stuck

  • I start and the wrong stuff comes out

  • I start and then when I come back it does not make sense

The right words will come when your writing and stories are connected to your purpose and your inspirational message. Unless you have the big why and know in your heart that this is the right book, it is unlikely that you will be able to write. Writing the right book is what will help you to get flow.

Honestly, start writing and it will come.

Explore these writer’s block excuses

When you read these what comes up for you? Tell yourself the truth. Where do you feel resistance?

Make a list of 10 silly excuses and then look at the deeper meaning. There’s many a true word said in jest. Grab a journal, write, reflect and decide to do one thing to move you from where you are to where you want to be as a writer. And then tackle the next thing.

I often find that there are two stages to getting the story out and that is to first get deeply connected to what your soul wants you to share and then formulate those stories into the memoir that your heart knows will inspire others and the inspirational message you have come to share.

If you need a loving and gentle prod in the right direction book a call.

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