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No More Excuses!

Kramer pam
By Pamela Kramer

Most freelance writers don’t have paid vacations or employer-sponsored health plans, but there are still plenty of perks that come with the job. I’m sure you know what I mean. There’s the opportunity to explore interesting topics and interview fascinating sources not to mention a flexible work schedule, an optional dress code and, thanks to no boss looking over your shoulder, the ability to read your favorite blogs, pay bills online or go to the gym whenever you want. One of my favorite benefits is having an interesting occupation when someone asks, “What do you do for living?”

Most people are curious about the writing profession and publishing process. If you’re like me, you’ve fielded hundreds of questions about how writers generate article and book ideas, how they find agents and publishers, how much the industry pays, etc. People almost always want to know what I’m working on now. More than a few like to talk about their own desire to become published authors. Invariably, most go on to list the reasons why they can’t succeed at writing: “My kids are busy with school and soccer,” “I don’t have a perfect plot” or “I can’t handle rejection.”

When people explain their rationales for not writing, I usually just smile and nod because I’m the Queen of Excuses when it comes to moving forward with my own goals, too, whether it’s approaching a new editor or market, trying my hand at a subject area that’s new to me, or tackling a longer-length project, such as a book. I have non-writing goals that get pushed aside, too, like updating my website or organizing my office. I frequently tell myself “I don’t have time,” “It’s too hard,” or “I don’t know where to start.” Perhaps you have caught yourself making excuses for not writing, too.

I’m always amazed at how obstacles that keep others from achieving their goals don’t look all that insurmountable to me. I’m relatively certain they could overcome them if they really wanted to. I’m pretty sure that it goes both ways and the roadblocks I put up in my own path appear to others as fairly easy to solve as well. The fact is that minor obstacles aren’t the real reason why most people fail. After all, most of us are clever and can find our way around, over or under hurdles: No space to write? Clear out a place in your bedroom. No time? Prioritize, delegate, eliminate!

The inability to move forward is usually more about a lack of motivation and the failure to believe that we can really, truly succeed. Self-help author William Dyer has a new book out called Excuses Begone! In it he says the secret to reaching your goals is to visualize yourself achieving what you want. If your dream is to write a memoir, for example, picture yourself researching your book, organizing the material, writing a book proposal. Think about how it will feel to get an email from an agent asking to represent you or to give a presentation at your first book signing.

When you can see yourself achieving a goal, you start believing that you can really do it and put your whole mind, body and soul into making it happen. To that end, I’m going to follow Dyer’s advice and visualize myself accomplishing the tasks that are important to me. I will also replace self-defeating talk with positive, proactive statements and examine the absurdity of certain excuses. After all, if I can find time to watch YouTube videos or download music, I can query a new editor. Dyer says there are no excuses worth defending, even if they have always been a part of our lives.

It’s easy to find reasons not to write, especially when life is demanding and the project in front of us is difficult. But those realities are probably never going to change. I will always feel squeezed for time. Certain projects will always be complicated. Getting started may never be a breeze. Let’s learn to be okay with those facts instead of letting them dictate why we can’t break out of our routines and accomplish new goals. In fact, we can shape our careers anyway we like as long as we stop looking for reasons why we can’t succeed and start moving forward, one step at a time. There’s no excuse not to.

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