Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Make a Plan (Not Excuses)

Copyright Natsume.  Source

This is my first (if you don’t count the quotation on Monday) post of the year and today I’m going to talk about excuses.  This may or may not be familiar, but I think it is a fairly common problem (especially with writers).

It is a form of procrastination and it took up a hell of a lot of time for me in the beginning of last year.  I made excuses.

There is a saying in Afrikaans that goes like this: ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan.  It translates to “A farmer makes a plan.”  (I don’t think the farmer part is there to specifically point out farmers, but rather because the majority of the Afrikaans speaking people at the time this saying was created relied on farming as their source of living.  And it became a sort of an unfortunate nickname for Afrikaans people.)

Anyway, what it means is that there is an alternative plan can be made.  In one word, adapt.  If something goes wrong, find a way to fix it.  Make use of what you have to fix the problem.  I’m not sure what the American or UK equivalent is, but I’m sure the Great Depression folks followed this philosophy.

Back to writing, I often made excuses as to why I couldn’t write.  For example, in my brief stint as a plot-card-guy, I didn’t want to start until I got cards that were the EXACT right size.  I could’ve written on pieces of paper or post-it notes, but I wanted it to be perfect before I began, and that really slowed me down.  (Eventually I got over myself and wrote on post-its.)

My point is that we often try to find crutches to support our writing.  Like saying that you’ll write later when you can afford to buy Scrivener.  But the actual fact is that you don’t need it.  Stephen King wrote his first stories with a drum print for which he had to buy stencils at 19 cents apiece.  Hemingway wrote on paper and on a typewriter (apparently he wrote descriptions longhand and dialogue with a typewriter).

If you have fancy things and they help you, great.  If you don’t, maak ‘n plan, make a plan.

Don’t make excuses not to write.  Write.


  1. Very true, and yet there are days when the excuses sound so convincing...

  2. So true. It's an unfortunate side-effect of our creativity that we can think up excuses at a moment's notice.

    Good luck with getting going this year.

    Sterkte my maatjie. ;-)

  3. Now that you mention that, I read somewhere that creative people lie more often than others, mostly because they can come up with better stories.

    Ha, ha. Dankie, dankie.