From time to time one comes across another one of those outrage-inciting online articles declaring that unless you write every single day, you’re not a real writer. I absolutely do not share these articles’ sentiments. After all, writing is something you do out of love, not some twisted sense of obligation.
Different people have different circumstances, so it’s never very clever to cast a wide net when it comes to what’s best for every writer out there. Having said that, I do believe, though, that if you can carve out the time and summon the wherewithal to write every day, you should jump at the chance to do so.
Doing what you love is worthwhile enough to warrant the time and effort it takes, purely for the sake of your own happiness.
Write Every day for Love
Those of us who write out of genuine love for writing feel a certain need to write. Writing is how we stay sane. Writing is how we exorcize the madness brewing within. We need it like water. Like a coffee-addict needs caffeine, maybe?
We must be careful not to let this need go unfulfilled for too long.
In Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury wrote:
“If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die or act crazy, or both. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. For writing allows just the proper recipes of truth, life, reality as you can eat, drink, and digest without hyperventilating and flopping like a dead fish in your bed. I have learned on my journeys that if I let a day go by without writing, I grow uneasy. Two days and I am in tremor. Three and I suspect lunacy.”
Sometimes. I go days without writing, weeks even–but you know what? The whole time, I feel as if something is terribly amiss, and the world doesn’t quite make sense. When I finally sit down and write something, I always feel like I can take a step back and release that tense breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. The world is no longer askew.
Why not give it a try, then?
Write the world down. Breathe. Everyday.
Making Writing Daily a Habit
Writing is a habit that flourishes when nurtured. As with any other skill, the more you write, the better you get at it. It’s that simple. I’m not saying you should make it your obligation to write x-thousand words every single day. It’s fine to have a goal like that. Admirable even. But that’s not what I’m trying to encourage you to do.
What I have in mind is more like this:
Say you get up every day and you sit in front of your computer or stare at your notebook or phone and all you write is one word. On some days, that one word turns into a sentence and then another, and then another. On some days, it becomes an idea that morphs into a deluge of words. Some days, though, it doesn’t turn into anything but that one word.
It’s still enough.
With that one word, you’ve already lit a fire somewhere deep inside in your mind. The wheels are already starting to turn. It might not turn into a substantial idea that same day, but it might, by the next day, or the next week, or so forth. It’s sort of like planting a seed and patiently watering it every day until it becomes a sapling, which becomes an awesome tree that eventually blossoms into full bloom.
To Each Their Own
The next time some upstart comes around and declares that when it comes to being a “real” writer, it’s their way or the highway, forget about becoming outraged. Think about what they have to say. Naturally, there are going to be some major flaws in their argument but I suspect the real reason it’s such a bitter pill to swallow is that there might be an iota of truth in what they’re saying.
Every writer is entitled to their own process. If you want to get up every morning and tackle writing like it’s some cumbersome chore… well, the thought of that breaks my heart, and I suspect you’ve perhaps adopted the wrong vocation, but guess what? That’s entirely up to you.
If you get out of bed in the mornings and go at it all gung-ho like a climber raring to go conquer K2, I say yay. Go for it. Conquer that mountain! If you go at it all helter-skelter like a two-legged centaur learning to prancercise, I say hurray–you damned weirdo.
Do your thing!
Struggle. Triumph. Mess around. Do it every day if you can.
Whatever you do, don’t let it destroy you. Don’t hold it inside till you’re a pressure cooker about to explode—unless that happens to be your process and you make it your prerogative to let those typing fingers dance amid that awesome explosion. Do yourself a favor and stop yourself from just turning off the heat and letting it fizzle out to nothing.
Writing is how writers live. It’s the only mechanism we have at our disposal to prove to ourselves that we exist. So, live, but live on your own terms and remember this:
Writers are always working and growing, whether we’re scribbling or not. Whether we’re aware of it, or not.
As Ray Bradbury wrote:
“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now, it’s your turn. Jump!”