I’m Out of Excuses

Opinion by Jim Denney

I have terrible handwriting. And I have no excuse. When I was ten years old, my teacher tried to teach me good penmanship, but I didn’t care and I didn’t make the effort. To this day, I can’t write anything in cursive. My “handwriting” is a second-grade-level block-letter printing so illegible I often can’t read it myself.

Last week, I heard about ten-year-old Sara Hinesley, a student at St. John’s Regional Catholic School in Frederick, Maryland. She entered the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest and won the Nicholas Maxim Award.


Now here’s the important part of the story: Sara has no hands.

Her arms end at the wrists, She holds the pencil between the ends of her arms. She writes beautifully.

I have to ask myself: Why can a ten-year-old girl without hands do something I can’t do with two perfectly functional hands? The answer is: I can’t because I never made the effort.

If a girl without hands can win a handwriting contest, what is my excuse for not achieving my goals in life? Obviously, I have no excuse. Little Sara Hinesley took all my excuses away.

ABC News story about Sara Hinesley

These days, I do all my writing with a laptop computer, so learning to write with beautiful cursive pen strokes is not a top priority for me. But I do have other goals I want to reach. And yes, sometimes I’ve had excuses for not achieving them yet.

But I’m done with excuses.

Legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant kept a plaque on his office wall that read, “What have you traded for what God has given you today?” Lately, I’ve been asking myself that question at the end of every day.

I remind myself that God has given me the gift of 86,400 seconds, each and every day. Once I’ve spent that allotment of time, it’s gone and I can never get it back.

What did I get in return for those 86,400 seconds? Did I invest them in the pursuits that matter? Am I doing the work God gave me to do? Am I fulfilling the purpose God has for my life?

Or am I just making excuses because I didn’t make the effort?


Note: Don’t miss my interviews with Christian romance writer Robin Lee Hatcher (author of Who I Am With You and An Idaho Christmas: Past and Present), and Christian science fiction writer Kerry Nietz (author of Amish Vampires in Space and Fraught). Visit my website at Writing in Overdrive. See you there!




Note: Battle Before Time, the first book in my newly revised and updated Timebenders series for young readers, has been released in paperback. Click this link to learn more.

And if you’d like to learn more about how to write faster, more freely, and more brilliantly than you ever thought possible, read my book Writing In Overdrive, available in paperback and ebook editions at Amazon.com. —J.D.


Jim Denney also blogs at Writing in Overdrive and Walt’s Disneyland

This entry was posted in Jim Denney, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I’m Out of Excuses

  1. Vicki Hinze says:

    Awesome article, and this reader, too, has lost excuses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Vicki and Bridget! I’m continually amazed at how much insight and inspiration for our grown-up lives can be found in the courage and character of children. J.D.


  4. Thank you for the pep talk, Jim. I’ve given up on penmanship–and I did try–but I won’t give up on redeeming the time.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.