In which I embark on a year long journey of writing. Every. Single. Day.
There is a lot of advice out there for writers on how to write, when to write, what it means to be a real writer.
You should wake up super early and get all your writing done first thing in the morning. (I’ll beat you awake sun, if it’s the last thing I do!)
You should only work on 1 project at a time.
You should work on multiple projects at a time. (Is 10 too many??)
You should write at least 2,000 words a day.
You should say no to all social commitments and only focus on writing. (For months or, ya know, forever and ever. Bye, bye friends!)
And then there’s the one piece of advice that I’ve rolled my eyes at, scoffed at, or blatantly laughed at more than any other. This, in my mind (at this moment), is the worst, most awful advice ever.
If you want to be a writer, you need to write every single day. No matter what.
There are people out there who have this philosophy. And they scare me.
I mean, of course you’re still a writer if you don’t write every day! Sometimes you’re busy. Or don’t have the mental capacity. Or just need a break so your ideas can marinate. Even day jobs have weekends, right? Everyone needs space from their work.
Which is why this is my current philosophy: Try to write as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you go a day (or two or seven) without writing.
I thought this was a great philosophy. Sort of like a be kind to yourself and don’t sweat it – if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.
But then I realized that over the past few years, I’ve used this way more as an excuse than anything else. If I thought any of the following:
I’m not in the mood to write today.
I’m really busy and just need to focus on other stuff.
I only have a free ten minutes, which definitely isn’t enough time to get good writing done.
Then all I’d do was think about my philosophy, shrug, and tell myself I’d write the next day.
Sometimes, I did. Mostly though, I didn’t. A one day break would turn into two days. A week would turn into two. Sometimes, a whole month would go by without me writing a single word.
During these times, I’d tell myself that I just needed to refill my creative well and it was good to take time off. I believed myself…but not really. Really, I found myself regretting all the wasted time and getting mad at myself for making excuses to do everything but write. I found that I somehow had plenty of time to clean, do laundry, and rearrange furniture. So why didn’t I have time to write?
Because I wasn’t putting writing as a priority in my life.
I stumbled upon this truth a few weeks ago. It was on a Saturday. I woke up with a long to-do list written down. Most of it was chore related, running an errand or two, and writing. I thought to myself at the beginning of the day, I have plenty of time to do everything. I’ll just get some of this other stuff out of the way, then I’ll write.
As you can imagine, the entire day went by and I did absolutely everything but write. As I climbed into bed that night, a huge knot of regret filled my belly. I LOVE writing. I love creating and telling stories. Love spending time in made-up worlds with my made-up characters.
So why didn’t I write? Why did I do all the dumb stuff and not the thing that brings me joy?!
The truth hit me like a cold, hard snowball in the face. My philosophy wasn’t working for me. My philosophy gave me the okay to not write. It didn’t tell me to prioritize writing, therefore I didn’t.
Something had to change. I needed a new philosophy.
Starting tomorrow, I’m embarking on a year-long journey to find that. I’m going to follow the advice I most hate: write every single day. In the end, I hope to come away with a new appreciation of my writing and the process of writing, a better sense of what should and shouldn’t be a priority in my life, and a new philosophy that actually empowers me.
I hope you’ll follow along with me! Let the writing begin!