“I wish I had more time to read, but I’m just too busy at the moment,” went a conversation I had with a friend last week. My suggestions about how to fit bits of reading time in, say with ten minutes over a cup of tea, fell on deaf ears.
“Sounds great, but I haven’t got ten minutes to spare these days! Besides, it takes longer than ten minutes to really get into a book, doesn’t it?”
Do you ever have conversations like this? When someone tells you they’d really love to do something, only they can’t because (insert excuse here)? You try to help out with some ideas, only for them to take you on an exhausting safari of all the reasons why they just can’t.
I recognise this trait in others because I used to be the one coming up with all the excuses. Back when I had a job in HR, my personal mantra went along the lines of: “I’d love to write for a living, but it’s just impossible.”
Once, I annoyed a friend so much that she shouted at me in a crowded pub, “…for God’s sake, if you hate your job so much, just leave!”
If I wanted to write for a living, I realised, I would have to take some action.
These days, when I tell people I’m a writer (two years later I’m still pinching myself over the fact that I get to say that!), their response will often come with a resigned sigh.
“I’ve always wanted to write, but there’s just no time.”
If this is you, stop it now!
If you’ve always wanted to do something, there is always time to at least start giving it a go. That time is lurking somewhere, and you owe it to yourself to find it. Even if it’s just the aforementioned ten minutes with a cuppa and a book you’ve been wanting to read.
For example, it would have been easy for me to tell myself I couldn’t write any books of my own, because I was spending all my time writing for others. But by getting up slightly earlier, I could carve out a total of eight hours per week – the equivalent of a working day – to work on my own projects. My first book, Procrastinations, will be published by the end of this month.
Oh – and watch out for the excuses other people sometimes make on your behalf when you try something different. When I started my new career, I was told I probably wasn’t going make much money. One person warned that there were already a lot of writers around, so it would be hard for me to stand out, while another mentioned how unsustainable freelance writing would be for me in the long-term.
However well-meant it might have been, if I’d listened to all the naysaying, I might never have started.
In fact, not only did it make me more determined to succeed, it also made me vow never to make any more excuses – for me or for anyone else. These days, if someone tells me they want to try something new, I smile, wish them good luck and offer them any help they might need.
As long as it’s legal, of course.