Today is my initial contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a marvelously self-deprecating collection of bloggers whom I’ve recently joined. The only requirement for membership is to contribute a post on the first Wednesday of each month; consider this my audtion.
Among the suggestions for “ISWG Day” is to offer advice or encouragement to other writers, so allow me to share the one habit I’ve adopted that’s helped me achieve my modest writing goals. It’s simple to state, not always easy to execute — but writing every day has been the key to my limited success.
Rephrasing into a command: You need to write every day. And when I say every day, I mean, every day.
No breaks for weekends or holidays. No vacations. No compromsises (I’ll write two posts today so I can skip tomorrow), no rationalizations (Tomorrow I’ll revise the draft I have today — it’s quality, not quantity, that matters), no excuses (It’s been a hell of a day, I need a mental break).
Length doesn’t matter; if all I’ve got one day is a sentence, that lonely string of words will just have to do. Quality doesn’t matter; sometimes I dash off something I consider ridiculously lame, only to receive more positive response than I do on posts that I believe to be much better (a great lesson in self-critical humility). Consistency doesn’t matter; my blog is mostly a linear development of different fiction projects, but if I need to go off script for a day or two, that’s where I’ll go.
Starting a daily writing habit is not going to be easy. You’re going to forget a day here and there at the beginning; it took a good three months before the habit became ingrained in me, and in the year that followed there were more than a few oh shit evenings where I jumped from bed and hit the Publish button moments before midnight. But eventually, it becomes a part of your day that you plan for, and enjoy.
Every day. Even when it’s difficult.
Last spring, as my mother’s health deteriorated and I left my job, home, and family to be with her at the end, I considered setting aside my blog temporarily. Writing at the time seemed self-indulgent, selfish; my blogging projects held no appeal. I knew I couldn’t continue writing solely to appease my vanity — yet I still felt it was important for me to write. Take care of yourself,the words of my mother and friends, family in those final days. You need to eat, get some rest; take a shower, go for a walk, cry when the sorrow is too much. You’re no good to anyone if you’re a wreck. Writing had become too important for me to set aside; deciding not to write would be like intentionally not brushing my teeth in the morning — I could do it, but I wouldn’t feel right the entire day. So I decided to continue writing, every day, even the day of her funeral; nonsense verse, verbal salads of garden vegetables tossed with whipped cream, the jibberish rantings of a soul in pain. I’m neither glad nor upset that I wrote daily during that time; I just know it was what I had to do.
Every day. On the good days and the bad, when the words come easily and when they have to be extracted, whether you feel like writing or feel you’ve earned a break. Writing, every day — the blissfully bittersweet obligation.