Writing Assignment: Write An Excuse

by Randy Murray on March 18, 2011

Have you ever listened to your recorded voice? It never sounds quite the way you hear it yourself as you speak, but it’s the true sound. And watching yourself on video can be painful. I look like that? It’s not how I look in the mirror!

Perhaps the scariest thing you can do is to put the things you say down as words on paper (or yes, on a screen).

But all of these things lead to something important: self-knowledge. See yourself as others see you. You may not be as thin as you thought. That’s OK. But if you aren’t as smart as you think you are, that can be deadly serious. The only way you can really find this out is to write, and then examine what you’ve written.

The excuse is one of the most revealing forms that will allow you to discover exactly how you appear to others. Your reasons may be valid or lame, but how you present them tells us something about you. You need to know more about yourself and this is a fast way to find that out.

In today’s assignment, write a short note explaining why you can’t attend a lunch you planned with a friend for tomorrow (and it’s your turn to buy lunch), a friend who is only in town for one day. The reason you can’t attend is that another friend has just invited you out to lunch, at the same time, to a very nice restaurant, and they’re paying. You may choose to revel the truth or you may lie — that’s up to you. But when you’ve completed the assignment, read it as if you were the friend and see what you think of yourself.

For extra credit, write an apology letter when your friend sees you out at lunch with someone else.

Here’s my example:

Hey, I’m sorry for the last minute change, but I need to reschedule our lunch tomorrow. I’ve just gotten overbooked with work and I really need the time. I’m so far behind that I’m not sure that even skipping lunch will catch me up, but it might help. You know how rough things have been lately and I just have to try and focus and get this pile of work done!

I’m so sorry to cancel out on you, but I’m close to panic and I don’t think I’d be good company. I hope you’ll be back soon so we can try again. I really am sorry, but it just won’t work for tomorrow.

[Note: read the above as a fictional example, not how I'd respond in an actual lunch emergency.]

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The Writing Assignment: Write An Excuse by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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