Why You Should Write Without Excuses

Why You Should Write Without Excuses

How many people make excuses that they can’t write? No time, no motivation, writer’s block… all the excuses in the world are out there.

But let’s be honest: if anyone has an excuse not to write, it has to be Farnoosh. She could have ‘woe is me”d and said it was too hard to learn or that improving was difficult.

She didn’t. She decided to learn, and she chose to learn well – well enough to land her a guest post here. And she’d like to pass on her beliefs about the importance of no excuses in writing to you. Enjoy.

Well, I certainly have no business writing.

My education and experience revolve around nothing but mathematics, logic, engineering, and networking (the kind running the backbone of the Internet).

I’m so far removed from the creative act of writing that I should use this as a fantastic excuse when the weight of producing compelling content becomes a burden. Plus, English is my third language, and I have yet to take a writing class.

If anyone could use the excuse, “But I’m not a writer; cut me some slack!” it would be me.

But I don’t make excuses about writing. Never. Excuses are lousy. Excuses are for those who opt out of life’s challenges and its excitement and rewards. Drop excuses from your vocabulary, your thoughts and your lifestyle.

Choose to live — and write — without excuses.

If you do something, learn to do it well. Treat it seriously. Give it your all. Make it a prideful accomplishment to cherish. Make people talk. Create reactions. Start trends.

And, when you write, write compelling content by putting your heart and soul and mind and writing skills into your effort.

Not some of the time or once in a while but every time.

If ever a time in history existed that enabled all people to achieve a goal or pursue a dream, it’s the present. Today. Right here. Right now. A ton of writing knowledge floats around in cyberspace, and it’s insanely rich in quality.

Yet even with these trillion bytes of data humming writing advice in our ears, writers usually shove aside clean, polished writing for other considerations like catchy titles, article length, keywords, marketing strategies, and quick turnaround times.

I’m not saying writing with those in mind is unimportant; I’m advocating that compromising on your grammar and correct use of the language, however subtle it may seem, limits your true growth potential as a writer.

And to grow as a writer, I offer you my uncensored advice:

  • What’s wrong is wrong. You may do something incorrectly a hundred times, and the massive online and offline communities may be doing it incorrectly another thousand times. It does not make it right. Most grammar, spelling, and writing rules are beyond debate. You either do them right or wrong. Know and follow the rules.
  • Don’t follow fads and poor trends. Following poor trends and general public ignorance only hurts your followers and damages your writing reputation. You want to be a writer, not just someone who writes. Close the gap and aim higher.
  • Respect the language. With every article you publish that contains oversights and poor grammar, you dilute the purity of the language, the true intent of words and phrases, and the real meaning of expressions and idioms. Simplify and polish your writing. Let it say what it means and mean what it says. Leave no room for interpretation. Know and use the fundamentals of language, and watch as they push your writing to the top.
  • Be vigilant. With repetition, small errors become so obscure you hardly notice them anymore. The clarity of your message may lessen, and the true intent of your words can take a hit. Fight the urge to adopt bad habits and be vigilant when editing and revising your core message. Deliver nothing less than a polished professional post to your community. Let your command of language empower your writing and drive your message. Make writing well a habit and a rule.
  • Think ahead. You may escape unscathed through your blog or your community, but one day you may publish a book or an article in a well-respected journal. Don’t let poor habits get the best of you and taint your opportunity to shine. The next time you send your voice into the world through writing, consider my advice and stop for a few minutes. Take a deep breath. Think about what you’re going to do.

Writing well matters.

Writing well isn’t just for authors or journalists or college professors. Writing well belongs to whoever claims it.

As writers, we carry the beauty and purity of language into the next generation. And as with all riches inherited from history, we can choose to protect them indefinitely or toss them away one piece at a time.

Which will you do?

Post by Farnoosh Brock

Farnoosh Brock is a blogger who doesn't speak English as a first language and who won't take excuses for an answer. She's making waves over at prolificliving.com, where she blogs about smart habits for rich living.

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  1. James, so happy you decided to publish this on one of my favorite blogs, yours: Men with Pens. Thank you.

  2. Patrick Vuleta says:

    The degradation of language on the internet is not such a bad thing. It just means that those who can write well stand out more. 😉

    That said, I fully agree that every writer needs to consistently work on his or her writing skills. Good grammar and vocabulary should be second nature so you can actually spend time on making your writing engaging. If you get the basics correct the first time, you can play around with words much more.

    Plus poor grammar is the easiest way to look like a complete amateur.

    It’s not that difficult to improve either. I recommend buying one of those short guides to grammar at a local bookstore and reading it once every few weeks. You’ll soon start to pick up on small mistakes that hold you back.

    • Patrick, ok you got me there. Very well-said! That’s what looking at the bright side means!
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts – There is no shortage of guides out there, for sure. And my favorite is to simply be so good and so proficient that it all becomes second nature. Our eye must go berserk over grammar and spelling errors, as our mind produces the creative flow of writing…..or it’s my hope anyway! The best parts of pursuing our talents and our skills IS the improving – that is the exciting part. Thanks for sharing the thoughts here!

  3. Good article. What’s new for me is that a guest post can include links to the blog it is being hosted on!

    “Choose to live — and write — without excuses.” Well said and I wish you’d have written this post for me. 😉

    • Hello Abubakar, my friend, you can have your own guest post. Give me a topic!
      This one was for Men with Pens and I am so happy James liked it so. No excuses at all. We should live that way too. On the links to the blog, there is so many good resources here and it was natural to link back to them…..! Thanks for your comment!

  4. Writing, as an experience and as a community, has more traps than a dungeons & dragons course. You make a good job at identifying potential excuses, but I still believe the main problem (that I have, sometimes) is that it’s hard overcome the negative stereotypes of writing. Especially if you have ambition. Writing is often perceived as for the “penniless boheme types” . It makes it hard to take yourself seriously when you do it. But it’s also exactly what you need to do if you want to succeed. Writing success and writing jobs are not handed on a silver platter.

    • The stereotypes never go away, Benoit. I think they are most often also very wrong. Don’t give in to the bleak vision that society draws on your personal passion! Don’t even put it up for negotiation. In today’s world, writers have soooo many more options. We are not beholden to publishers or newspapers anymore. Exploit your advantages and best of luck. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Wham! Right between the eyes. What a great piece, and I couldn’t agree more. Not just in the world of writing, but in everything we do. Standards are important, and we make the world around us better by being the best we can.

    Warren Buffet had something pithy to say about this (as he so often does):

    “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

    We must be vigilant. In the end, we are all we have. If we let ourselves go… what else can we hold onto?

    • Hi Marc, thank you and I love the Buffet quote. I had heard it before but hadn’t attributed to him. So true! And yes to applying these reasons for doing our best in everything. Excuses have no room in my life. What about in yours? From your comment, I would say not a chance! Thanks so much for your comment.

  6. Farnoosh,

    I think one of the reasons so many people end up making excuses for their writing is because they put it on a pedestal. It’s the holy grail and frankly, who has that kind of reach? But just like any other goal, you get there step by tiny step. No one goes from broken English to Hamlet over night. I’m sure you didn’t either. But what sets you apart is your passion for improvement and your dedication to your goals. Anyone can buy Strunk and White, but few ever pull it off the shelf.


    • Jen, thank you for your powerful words and the goosebumps! I never thought of it in that light. You know, I never until recently thought of myself as a writer but I have loved it since the beginning of my life and the direction of my life only suppressed the desire to express it until recently, hence growing the passion and the will to express it deeply over time. I love your writing voice and style as you know and find it yet amazing yet again that you too did not train or study to be a writer. You just came to it step by tiny step ….beautiful and powerful, thank you!

  7. Hi Farnoosh!

    Excuses is a great topic period! People use every excuse in the book to not live while they are alive. It’s always something.

    This goes for writing as you point out so well. There’s nothing stopping anyone from writing but flimsy excuses. Just dive in – the writing waters are warm.

    I agree with putting your heart into one’s writing. It’s how we connect with each other. Yet that requires vulnerability and we’re taught to keep that in check. (Heaven forbid someone act human.)

    In my twenties, I realized I had a grammar deficiency so I got some grammar books out of the library and spent about a year re-learning grammar. I fell in love with it! Even took a grammar class. My teachers didn’t make it compelling, yet it’s an act of beauty to learn to write in the clearest and cleanest way possible. I view writing almost as a love letter …

    Much thanks! Giulietta

    • Dear Giulietta, what a fabulous story of your writing career. I too am in love with good grammar and now will particularly watch my response to you ;)! Just kidding, I am usually giving unsolicited grammar advice at the expense of even impairing a perfect relationship … I always and only do it in private to the author and send it in with a thousand apologies to boot. Most are gracious which leads me to think that people may just be lazy while they know better when they make those horrific mistakes. Who knows!
      “the writing waters are warm!” There is a phrase I shall never forget. Thank you!!

  8. Well done Farnoosh.

    Your third language! Amazing.

    *subscribing to Grammar Girl right now*

    • Hi dear Mary, thank you and so sweet of you to subscribe. I look forward to hearing more from you and glad you enjoyed this post!

  9. Hey Farnoosh

    Interesting article.

    I used to make excuses about not writing mainly because I knew my delivery of a story wasn’t as good as the next mans. Tied in with that was lazy approach to grammar.

    I eventually got over myself and started to write. I found that I enjoyed it and it was a skill that I can develop. I read a lot more and learn a lot more which increase my ability of creating better content.

    I still make mistakes, but it is a great learning curve.

    Articles like these highlight the importance of using language properly. Once used correctly it will only move you forward.

    Thank James for sharing this.

    Chat soon

    • Thanks dear Dwayne for sharing your thoughts so honestly!! I am so glad you decided to give writing a go and now see it as a skill to develop and something you enjoy doing. “Getting over myself” is a powerful way to put it and I have no doubt of your continued success if you keep going on this path. Thanks again for your comment.

  10. Well said and well written! I strive to write well, and I am always annoyed when I read things that are poorly written.

    • Hi Mary Anne, thanks for your thoughts!! You know, poor writing frustrates me much too but I try (hard) to look past it if I really like the article. Thanks for the kind words!!

  11. Hi Farnoosh,
    I really liked your post and was determined to leave an appreciative comment. I’m a proofreader and spend much of my time helping writers and students who speak English as a second language. The English language is so idiosyncratic that, even after years of speaking fluently, writing clear and concise English can be difficult. The only way to improve is to ‘take it seriously’, apply yourself and build confidence in your writing abilities.
    However, I would also add that in terms of the first draft, the best thing to do is disregard grammar almost entirely and write simply to find out what it is that you want to say. It is much easier to go back and correct mistakes you’ve made on paper than to produce a perfect paragraph at the first attempt. Don’t ever let your inner editor stop you from writing something for fear of making mistakes. We all make mistakes, the important thing is that you’ve learned how to fix them. :-)

    • Hi Jax, thank you so much for taking time to respond and sorry for my tardy in getting back to you. Oh I am so glad to know someone with your experience and specialty. I tell my husband all the time about the idiosyncrasies of English – there is never an end to my learning, 20 years later…! :) I read somewhere that learning English fluently and to the level where you can really understand the phrases, the expressions, the slang, all of it, it is the MOST difficult language of all and I can see why it could be.
      I can go with the disregarding of grammar in a draft, no problem, but never in the finished product, with which I am sure you agree. Thank you so much for these insights….and so much for your comment, Jax!

  12. Hi Farnoosh

    Many congratulations on your guest post – loved it.

    “Choose to live — and write — without excuses”

    I think that single line says it all.
    Certainly much better than I ever could.

    Look forward to lots of Prolific Living in 2011.

    Merry Christmas.


    • Dear Keith, how ice to see you here, it’s been a while. Yes, James was so kind to let me post here on Men with Pens….! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope to see you again and very often soon. Merry Xmas back at you!

  13. I admire the sentiment of this, the call to take writing seriously. However, as a professional writer, proofreader, and grammarian, I also have to caution that language is a living thing. The rules that describe it are not laws but rather observations. As language evolves, so too must the guidelines of its grammar. My advice is to be rigid in judging one’s own writing, but forgiving about other people’s.


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