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Why I Don’t Try To Write Every Day

March 22, 2010

Some people have schedules. I don’t do schedules. And sure, this usually means that I’m less than diligent about working on my WIPs, but I’m one of those people who disdains from putting crap on the page. And yes, I am able to realize that sometimes writing something is better than nothing, but rereading the 1,000 word crapula I wrote the other day and scouring it for that one golden nugget of a sentence doesn’t exactly boost my self-esteem. So, I write when I write.

I was reading this post about how writers should write within the limited time they’ve got, even if it’s only for 15min. I agree. I’m the master of editing in that cushion of minutes before bedtime, when I need a pick-me-up to either a) remind me that yes, I am a good writer or b) reread a problem area with the hope that sleeping on it will provide the opportunity for a eureka come sunrise.

I wasn’t completely telling you the truth about making schedules either. I am the type of person who makes abstract schedules: do hw; try to write a post on BLANK before it becomes old news; read another story from Electric Literature Vol. 3; oh yeah, don’t forget to do your HOMEWORK; and, maybe try to squeeze a little writing before Lost comes on. But I don’t tell myself to write from the hours of 7pm-8pm.  And that’s not because I think inspiration is only in the moment, or that writing isn’t work–writing is the hardest work I know and that’s why, especially considering my busy school schedule, I don’t want to make writing a chore. It may be WORK, HARD WORK, to tap-tap-tap a lovely paragraph into untitled.doc, but if I’m not in the mood, I don’t want to feel as if I’m failing myself.

What does “not in the mood” mean? I usually attribute that to time when I’m stuck with how to advance the plot, or when I’m unable to overcome my difficulty in transcribing what my character WANTS, and why he/she has chosen to make me write this dang story anyhow. What’s the point of this story? my school-trained mind wonders, unable to help thinking about themes, motifs. Sometimes I write to get out of that mindset, tapping out a freewrite of delicious expression. But that kind of writing isn’t crap, it doesn’t involve hatefully spewing meaningless words on the page. If I don’t want to write, if writing today means hating writing, then I let myself think. After all, sometimes writer’s block is the best gift in the world–you’re so thoughtful and frustrated that you explore new avenues, new twists. Instead of writing in circles, instead of needing a Venn Diagram to separate the good and the incomprehensible, you’re left with yourself, free to observe and explore.

Do I advocate writing a little everyday? Yes. I even advocate trying to make up on weekends what you couldn’t handle on the weekday. But don’t stress yourself, mon cherie. As you know if you’ve been reading my posts lately, some people take six years to write a book; others take six months. Some people write everyday, some people don’t. Don’t feel obligated to do what insert your favorite author here does. I guarantee that no matter how awesome he/she is, that author is not you; you can’t copy his every move and hope for success. It’s your writing and your choice. Doesn’t that make you feel empowered?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2010 6:45 pm

    I usually try to write something every day. Some days, that’s easier than others. But I agree with you, if everything I’m writing on a given day feels like crap, and I’m making myself feel like a failure, taking a break (maybe a day or two off) can help me refresh and come up with new angles from which to attack my writing. And I do find it funny how some writing teachers say you HAVE to do x, y and z to produce a book (or whatever it is you’re trying to produce). In fact, it seems there are as many approaches to writing as there are writers. I think we should all do what works for us. 🙂

    Thanks for the post!

    • March 22, 2010 10:36 pm

      No, thank you!

      And isn’t it inspiring, knowing that there are so many different ways to write? Whenever someone says that there aren’t any new ideas anymore, I know they just haven’t thought of one yet.

  2. March 23, 2010 6:52 pm

    I like your point about block being a signal to take a step back; I often think of it as your subconscious trying to heal a hole in your story.
    As for the main point, I often have days where I feel I’m not going to write much of value. Then I get started, and the first hour or so might be rubbish. But if I keep quarrying, something starts to happen and by the end of my session I’m very pleased that the day was the way it was. Or, if there are still problems, the next morning I will see them instantly and can use all the work I did the day before to make something good.
    The marathon runner mentality of pushing through the ‘wall’ suits me, although it is painful. But we all have to experiment and find our own way – that’s part of becoming a writer.

    • March 23, 2010 10:38 pm

      Sometimes I suppose you do have to “exercise” your writing, push yourself forward until your warmed up and brimming with sweaty brilliance (okay, went a little too far with that metaphor…)

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