Excuses (Part 1)

Today is the 102nd day of 2017. In that time, I’ve written a measly two blog posts. Two. That means there have been 100 days this year that I haven’t posted anything. What a sad state. I had grand intentions of spending more time writing this year. Not only did I want to continue my passion for personal blogging, but also to explore the realm of short stories and poetry. Instead, I haven’t.

There are plenty of reasons why this is the case. If I am totally honest, none of them stands up to scrutiny. No matter how well-defended or how deeply felt, they are at their core just excuses. Here are a few of my favorites:

Distraction  Whenever I try and compose intelligible sentences, my brain wanders in a million different directions. Even in the middle of writing this, I took a 15-minute detour to sign up for a couple 5k races. I might take another to order pizza. Things like that happen almost every time I sit down to do some writing. Thoughts pop into my head – only sometimes related to my intended topic. This pulls my attention to other things, or reshapes my narrative, or simply makes me so confused that the only possible action is to stop. I have reams of half-started blog posts in my drafts folder – all the product of distraction.

Competing Priorities – This year, I’ve found it increasingly hard to prioritize writing in my life. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and still maintaining The Serendipitous Lifepersonal blogging was part of my job. Even after that, I found a feeling of personal accomplishment in writing and publishing blog posts. But as my readership has dwindled (due in part to my failure to post anything), I sometimes feel like writing these posts is shouting into a void. Does it matter if I spend the time to write it out and format the post? Track down pictures to include? Does it give me anything I can’t gain from having a really solid think? Is it more important than any number of other priorities in my life? The answer is still yes – because I love writing. The difference is now I have to actively choose to prioritize it.

Mental Exhaustion  Physical exhaustion is one thing (something I talk more about in Excuses, Part 2). Mental exhaustion is a whole other ballgame. Having a job in communications saps a lot of my creative mental energy. I get home from work and some days I just don’t feel up to the task of being witty or insightful or self-depreciating. Even if I have a thought or a topic I think would be interesting to pursue, it’s easier to binge Great British Bakeoff and watch my fish swim around his bowl. I don’t like when writing for this blog feels like a task – and after a long day of work, it certainly can.

Lack of Inspiration – Saying I’ve lacked inspiration is a bit misleading. Instead, I think there is a tension between the inspiration I have found and concern over being too whiny, over-dramatic, or woe-is-me. My life isn’t terrible. Far from it. But I find that the less positive aspects of my life are the ones I reflect on the most – and the ones I process best through writing. I also worry that writing about the positive things might be boring or boastful. There is also a real lack of inspiration for fiction writing. I can barely remember the last time I wrote a short story. And while the idea of writing one appeals to me, every time I sit down to start my mind goes blank. My cursor blinks and blinks and blinks in preemptive disappointment. All the writing books say just to write something, but even that seems impossible.

Travel – Probably the most legitimate of all of my excuses is my recent travel. I spent about a week in Singapore and before that went to the coast with my sister and her husband. Both were absolutely fantastic breaks – and should have been fodder for writing posts. Instead, they became reasons why I hadn’t written – I was far too busy doing nothing on an airplane or in a car. But here, look at the pretty pictures from Singapore:

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The good news in all of this is that there is still 265 days left in this year. There is still time to make a comeback – to write more and post more. I can’t say I’ll be completely successful if nothing else I’ve proven I’m good at finding excuses. But I am re-committed to my 2017 goals: writing, thinking, and moving more.

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