"Work's been busy."
"Family life has gotten in the way."
"I had this thing I had to do."
Depression. Moving. Vacation.
The list goes on.
Okay, before you flip a gasket, I am not saying those aren't fantastic reasons to not write - or not getting anything accomplished, for that matter. I have no doubt the things I would count as getting in the way of my writing would be touted as perfectly legitimate reasons for not putting pen to paper - finding a good kindergarten for my daughter; cancer screening; promoting my work. And, being the non-judgmental type I would never point to someone with "You don't really want to be a writer! Those are just excuses!"
But for me? Its all shit. Why? Not because I am a bad person or callous and unrealistic. Its garbage because I have made writing a priority in my life and failed to follow through with my own goals. It's a struggle because, for whatever reason I have put things ahead of my writing. And lets face it, not the things that should be prioritized. I laid in bed another half hour. I powered through, yet another, season of Justified. I told myself, "I'll play another round of Hearthstone" or "I'll grab a beer with the friend I haven't seen in ... weeks" or "I'll spend hours absorbing crappy micro-journalism on Facebook." Perhaps it's in the face of an emotional downturn. Perhaps it's under the auspice of "down time" and relaxing. Bollocks!
"I'm living life," some might say. But I want my life to be that of a writer. That is defined one way and one way only, through writing. Life isn't something that should stop writers from writing, life is the reason we write. Too sad or have no motivation to write? Write about it. Standing on line waiting for the person in front of you to get their act together? Open up a little notebook or a writing app and write what you see or how you feel. Dying to see that new episode of "House of Cards" or "Game of Thrones?" Make it a reward. Tell everyone who will listen. Make writing a priority. Don't make life an excuse to not write, rather, write through life.
Which brings me to my second point. Live. Yes, the combination of Elmore Leonard and Timothy Oliphant is inspired. Yes, I only need two more wins to get my Warrior deck to level 35. Oooo, someone posted yet another quiz about how I could actually be my favorite Babylon 5 character - let's explore Buzzfeed's unique perspective into the deeper recesses of my soul. One day a soul-weary exec at Buzzfeed is going to crack under the labor and meaninglessness of his life and have every Facebook quiz end with "Congratulations you've discovered you're a loser. Instead of living life, Don, you've made the insightful decision to pursue, yet another, useless foray into self discovery via social media. I hope it was worth it."
I don't take pictures of everything my daughter does because I want to do them WITH her. I want to be present in her life and my own and the validation of my social networks is not nearly as important as creating experiences with the ones I love. I don't want to experience life through a camera lens or even a smartphone screen. And I assure you I don't have my notebook out on roller coasters and scuba excursions. But my life isn't about TV shows and video games. I'm not writing technical manuals and my writing isn't made better by truncated, ill-informed political banter with people that already agree with me.
My characters come alive by my life experiences. Their conversations more believable by expanding my own. If I honestly look at the things I am doing, while easier and cheaper, are not fulfilling. I spent over a decade being a consumer - sitting on a couch, absorbing calories and media. I mad ea concerted decision to live a life less traveled. Instead of filling my brain and bones with manufactured social detritus I'm going to take a deep breath, take constructive criticism as accountability, and see that my family and I have a life worth living. Thus instead of writing despite a tawdry, shallow existence I'll endeavor to write through life - one vibrant and worthy of my craft.