Guest Post: Little Red Wagon of Excuses

Without meaning to, Christy wrote the perfect post to go with the conversations we’ve had on fear, doubt, and wasted time. When she shared the piece with our writing group earlier this week, it resonated so strongly with me and I knew other writers would enjoy the message too. Thankfully, she has allowed me to share it with all of you.

I can always count on Christy for advice and support, and this piece inspires me to capture every moment of free time I’m letting slip away.

I made a pie chart of how I spend my time. It varies day to day, but now at the end of summer much of my time, and mind space, is taken up with watering the garden. What needs watering now? For how long? Time to change the cog, time to harvest, time to weed.

But, there are blocks of free time that I have, and here come the excuses. That little red wagon hauling my many excuses.

I’ve fallen into the excuse pit. A trap of believing (first I thought it, then I believed it) that I need a block of three hours to be or do creative things. Yet in college 45 minutes or an hour, and oh my, what I could do!

Three hours is true for when I want to make jewelry and use my large acetylene torch. It’s quick to light, but the pickle pot needs 45 minutes to get hot enough to do any good. Darn this environmentally friendly pickle. It doesn’t work as well as the old pickle. It’s a mild acid used to clean metal, before and after soldering with the torch. It takes 30 minutes to ventilate the garage after I’ve shut the torch off and bled the lines, even longer for the pickle pot to cool and ventilate. So okay, if I need to use the torch, then yes, I need a block of time.

But. . .

One hour is enough to saw out a piece of metal, or put away tools, or edit my writing, or work out a character sketch. Now that I realize I need a stronger antagonist for my second book, I need to think of ways he causes trouble. What’s his name anyway? See he needs work, I can’t even remember his name! So, I need to figure out what makes him tick. What is his trajectory, and why? One hour is enough to begin on that!

One hour is enough to sketch, or begin a new series of sketches for a painting, or to analyze a work in progress, and work out solutions to its design. The half-finished painting in my studio needs that. I’ve forgotten where I was going with that one. I need to work out my light path, color changes, and shadows.

So, this rant goes on because I realize I am, or have become lazy, and I make too many excuses. Some are: I’m tired, it’s too hot, I have a headache. And so, the work doesn’t get done. A lot of time gets wasted.

Excuses are born of doubts, which is really fear disguised.

After a series of disappointments, in paintings, or poems, or jewelry, or paragraphs it gets discouraging. Very! Then doubt sets in, then fear.

What if this is the best I can do? What if I am out of ideas? What if this is all there is?

Well, so what?

Maybe it is time for some new scenery, but not too much time, because that becomes avoidance. Too much avoidance and the creative spark gets rusty. It’s better to be creative every day than to let too much time go by. The rut just gets deeper and that wagon fills up more.


  1. // Reply

    Oh my goodness! Who told you that you can write about me? Joking aside, I must confess that I’ve been making a lot of excuses lately. I keep promising myself to edit, to write, to start a new short story, but I whine about being tired when I am just plain lazy.

    1. // Reply

      Haha I’m glad you liked this post. Christy did such an amazing job capturing this thing that all writers find themselves doing at some point or another. After I read it, I realized I had all this wasted time I wasn’t even aware of.
      And the line about, “What if this is the best I can do? What if I am out of ideas? What if this is all there is?” I didn’t even realize I was holding onto fears like that until I read that part. It was like a sucker punch, and suddenly it was so obvious that I’d been harboring those fears for some time now.

      1. // Reply

        She certainly did! Yes, those lines really sunk in and I am glad that it helped you realize whatever little fears that you may have. It made me realize how lazy I am. ^.^

  2. // Reply

    Ha.. I think that the more time you have, the more you can waste it… when I’m busy at work I usually writes better…the exception would be the few times I have written longer stories (not novels just a short story of 4000 words) that meant that I had to use more time (which meant weekends).

    1. // Reply

      That sounds about right. I think when you pile on tasks, and mark them off your to do list as you finish them, it creates this energy that pushes you onto the next task.

  3. // Reply

    BTW this is what the red wagon of excuses got me thinking about.

    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white

    1. // Reply

      I love when you read a post, and it keeps you thinking after you’ve read it. And even better when it inspires you to write something. Thanks for sharing this!!

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