This week, I’d like to take a look at an idea that has been floating around the writing community lately…And kick it really hard in the soft bits.
This idea has a tendency to come and go at intervals and, this time, it came along as a click-baity article, the gist of which was:
“If you don’t write every day, then you’re not a real writer and you should quit right now.”
This is, of course, unalloyed horseshit.
There is only one criteria to be a writer:
You MUST write.
That’s it. If you write, you’re a “Real” writer.
You’d think that this would be self-evident. Words are our stock in trade, after all. “Writer” doesn’t imply how often one must write, only that one DOES write. Everything else is set dressing.
It’s been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the whole “You must write every day” thing is no exception.
The underlying idea is to help new writers develop a habit of writing. Why is a habit important? Because it will be easier for you to get started if you’ve been developing the muscle memory to sit down and write regularly.
But writing regularly doesn’t, necessarily mean writing every day. Whatever schedule works for you, is what works for you. If you can sit down every day and write, fine. If you can get five days of writing in and then take the weekend off, fine. If you can only write on the weekends, that’s fine too.
And it’s more difficult for the writer that’s just starting out. You’ll pick up a book on writing by someone that you admire and find an “Absolute” that you cant live up to.
Ray Bradbury (and I’m going to paraphrase here) once said that you have to get up each day with the irresistible urge to go write. You have to approach it with joy every time.
Ray, freaking, Bradbury.
I’ll admit it: Sometimes I don’t have the irresistible urge to go write. Sometimes it’s a slog, a supreme effort of will to drag myself into my writing room to eke out a few hundred words or so.
That doesn’t make me any less of a writer. What worked for Ray, worked for Ray.
As I was developing*, I picked up “On Writing” by Stephen King. I still read it pretty regularly, but there was a point in the book where he talks about plotting (He’s not a fan of plotting) and he’s not very complimentary about it.
The thing is that Stephen is a discovery writer. He just writes and sees what happens.
That method doesn’t work for me. I’ve got to tell myself the story before I can start getting it down.
It took me a *long* time to get past that dim view of plotting. Like much of writing, it took a considerable exercise of ego to stand up for myself and say (to myself) “That might work for you, Uncle Steve, but it doesn’t work for me. I’ll find my own path, thanks.”
This field is full of “Do it this way or you’re not “Real” crap.
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore writing advice. those folks are successful for a reason. Keep in mind that they are also writing these books from their perspective, which might not (and probably doesn’t) match your own. This is you we’re talking about. You make your own definition of “Real” and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Take what works and leave the rest. I encourage you to try a little of everything, find what works for you, and put it to use.
*Not to imply that I’ve finished – or will ever be done – developing as a writer.
Time: 12:27 pm-ish
Music: W.A.S.P. – Golgotha