where the writers are
Pushing Past Imagined Obstacles

Yesterday, I blogged about obstacles that aren’t. The ones we make up, magnify, imagine, or create. The little stumbling block we turn into the Great Wall of China. The crack in the sidewalk we see as the Grand Canyon. We all have them.

For just one example from my own life, I once found myself on the phone with a friend grumbling about how I didn’t have the time to write. He didn’t have the time either, he told me.We talked about how we didn’t have the time to write for an hour. Rather than doing what we should have been doing, which is writing.

Imagined obstacles are no laughing matter because they can prevent you from writing for months, or a lifetime. I am sure there are people who went to their graves never having written the novel that would have been brilliant, the poetry that would have been dazzling because they were too busy with yard work, their house was too noisy, or they couldn’t find the right pen or desk.

I still struggle with imaginary obstacles—I believe almost all writers do—but I now have a technique for dealing with them. It is very simple, but it works. The next time you find yourself making up reasons not to write, try this:

1. Set an Intention

Pick a date and time when you will do the work you want to get done, whether it’s start your novel or continue it, begin designing your website, or send your poem out.

When I say “set a date,” I mean soon, of course. January 4th, 2015 isn’t a good date unless you’re setting your intention on January 3rd, 2015. Also, pick a day in which you aren’t up against a host of real obstacles. The day you have dental work in the morning and 15 guests for dinner is probably not a good date for starting your novel. Don’t sabotage yourself by being unrealistic. Pick a day when you’re likely to actually do the work you want to get done.

2. Write it Down

Putting your intention on the page makes it look and feel concrete. It’s a promise to yourself—a contract with you.

Now add these words: “No excuses.” No excuses means nothing gets in the way. Put those words in big, bold print. Write them and mean them.

3. Post It

Put your intention where you will have to look at it. Your computer.Your mirror.Your refigerator.That secret stash of chocolate behind the baking soda in your cupboard. Any place you won’t be able to avoid looking. Every time you look in that place, your intention will be reminding you that you have made a promise to yourself:

I will send my short story out on

June 26, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.


4. Just Do It

Okay. The day is here. The time is approaching. You feel the siren call of the coffee shop down the street. You absolutely have to check your email. Oh, wait! You forgot to pay your credit card bill! You must do that first.

No, you don’t. No excuses means exactly that. The time is here. Put away your anxiety. Shut off the distraction. Push back at the inertia.

Just do it.