Keep Writing

When I was a young writer the highly recommended quality of an author I heard most often was to write every day; and was lead to believe that if I didn’t do this, then I was somehow unworthy of the title of writer or author. I think one of these authors’s referred to those who didn’t practice their writing craft everyday as a writing hobbyist. I started to wonder if these authors who demand that others write everyday have more time on their hands, although I’ve noticed that many are single, childless, or men.

After High School, and before I got my “first real job” that didn’t include baby-sitting, cleaning the home of a homebound hoader, helping to put a paraplegic neighbor to bed so that they could save money on the nursing service, mowing lawns or shoveling walks of the elderly, or selling my mother’s crafts door to door, I had eight to thirteen hours to write. The thirteen hours might sound bad, but I should mention that I had a bad case of insomnia during this time and was lucky to get four hours of sleep a day.

My “real job” took up most of the day and it wasn’t so easy to find the hours I wanted to spend writing, but I found ways around it. The writing everyday was still an easy task because there were no demands on my time. But when I started a family with my hubby and began helping around the ranch, writing time became non-existent. An hour here, ten minutes there. Writing mothers will recognize the pattern.

I’m certain that a consistent time to write isn’t going to happen until both girls are in school and even then it’s subject to change with my husband’s swing shift schedule. So I’ve come up with two new aims since writing everyday isn’t a feasible goal for me.

1. Keep writing. Writing is my sanctuary from the stresses of the day. Writing is where my thoughts play out on the page. Writing is an act of creation, where worlds form, where characters play and live. Writing keeps me sane.

2. Do what you can do. No one can really ask more than that of anyone. If I can’t write for a day or a week, I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. If all I can manage is ten minutes a day, then I better be ready when that ten minutes comes.

What are some writing myths you have been told that you’ve learned are not practical for you?

15 Comments

  1. Catana says:

    Write every day ignores the very basic fact that many successful authors have had wacky writing habits, sometimes not writing for months, then going on a writing binge. I have days and weeks when I don’t write at all, then hit a streak where I ignore everything else in my life. Even worse is the beiief that you have to write to a schedule — same time every day, or set goals of so many words a day.

    1. I agree that a writing schedule (i.e. a set number of hours per day, week; whatever) is the worst thing to adopt. There are so many other things intruding on one’s time that it is impossible to maintain. I practice through blogging, replying to articles like this one, making writing notes to store until I can find the time to write, etc.. And sometimes I end up writing when everyone else is asleep. The work must be fresh and good. Real life is just disruptive enough that one has to set that aside to deal with more important things, otherwise one’s work can suffer or be under par.

      1. So true. Whenever I force myself to work on something I rush to get it done and it suffers for it. Or I slack off and do something completely different. Like website designing or cover art. 😀

    2. Not to mention that writing everyday fits the needs of a few author. Like you say writer’s have wacky writing habits. Some of us don’t function well by writing everyday, we do better to write when we can. Just as others need to write everyday to function as a writer. 😀

  2. Scott Grant says:

    First of all Stephannie thanks in behalf of all mankind for your selfless help of your neighbor. It shows that you have your heart priorities in order as they should be. It isn’t an automatic thing for some to think with their heart, or soul if you will. It’s a conscious decision to put human imperatives ahead of your own needs but it derives from your sub-conscious thought stream, from who you really are. Creativity can’t be scheduled, or time economized. Whether it’s ten minutes, or all day, you can’t force it out of yourself in a time block. That is why many writers develop so called writer’s block. You can’t get past the first sentence unless you are thinking with both your heart and your brain. You may indeed get several pages written but a nagging voice challenges you to read it and you wind up throwing out the lot and starting over if you are forcing it. Seldom does anyone else’s method for getting your mojo awakened work for anyone else but I have found that if I research my story first and then spend quality time in meditation repeating a mantra I begin to see the story in flashes. I then filter the emotions and facts through the Greek prism of ethos, eros and pathos and at least for me the characters begin jumping off the page. My problem is marketing using the internet. It’s an art I haven’t mastered so I remain a writer as obscure as dust on a field of poppies.

    1. Very true, Just like a baby everything comes in it’s own time. Writing will happen when it happens.But unlike a baby, sometimes writing has to be thrown out or reworked to make it perfect.

      I’m horrible at marketing myself. I’m not a toot my own horn kind of person. Probably why my own books are pretty obscure, but I’m working on doing better in the department.

  3. vicky says:

    I think one of the worst things I’ve read about some writers is that they put their writing above their marriage or even their children’s emotional needs. I believe that if you are serious you will always find time to write but why should it be more important than your spouse? Or spending quality time regularly with your kids? I think balance is needed. Writing can be a passion but it’s also something of a job and like with any job, if you spend all of your time there and neglect your family’s emotional and social needs, you will suffer the cost later on. If you are going to get married and have children, they should be a top priority, otherwise, why bother to have a family?

    1. Amen on all accounts! Balance is good in all aspects of our lives.

  4. I’ve always been a binge writer, and while I’m trying to write more regularly these days, the tendency remains. The way I see it – my life, I get to choose how to lead it. I don’t know if it’s a myth, but another recommendation I can’t follow is the pour out the first draft non-stop without editing. I can’t do it, don’t like it, and being required to do it would probably stop me from writing at all. So I edit yesterday’s work before starting today’s and make myself happy. I don’t think anyone should dictate those kinds of work habits to someone else.

    1. I like the idea of editing your rough draft as you go. Not only does it allow you to refresh your memory about what you’re writing but allow you to remember subtle plot changes you might have made the day before.

  5. mariminiatt says:

    Thanks for this. I used to be able to put out a ton of work a day due to waiting for the bus everyday at work. I switched jobs. I now have an overnight shift. The time I can write is now minutes a day. Mainly due to trying to get everything done in “normal people hours” before I sleep.

    One myth that bothers me is: Read everything in the genre you write.
    First: Impossible to do that, you would only be reading.
    Second: Spread out to other genres. Just because you write steampunk, does not mean you should not read Irish historical fiction.
    Third: Many say not only to read in your genre, but read every day. Again like writing everyday, it depends on your schedule.
    Fourth: Read what you like, when you like. I love fantasy satire. I can’t write it. But I enjoy the authors that can do it. Its an escape for me. Not an assignment.

    1. Yeah, if I read everyday I’d never get anything done. I’m one of those people that reads the whole story in one sitting if possible. I can concentrate on writing until I finish the book. Which is why I set aside one day a week for reading. It’s an all day endeavor. 🙂

  6. lahilden says:

    I agree with what you said. I tend to write when I’m ready to write, forcing the issue only causes stress that I don’t need. If I don’t wish to work on a book, I blog or write an article. Somedays I reread things I already wrote, but if by the time I finish reading and if I still don’t feel like writing, then I don’t. Other days, the words just flow and I write a couple of chapters. In the end, I think it all works out. Juggling family, housekeeping, writing,editing, blogging, and marketing is a juggling act, but like you, writing is my escape and I can’t imagine my life without it. I think if I forced myself to write when I didn’t feel like writing, I’d end up writing garbage. I have to be in writing mode to write. 🙂

    1. It’d be more a job you have to do, instead of a job that’s fun to do. It would stop being an escape from the stress and become a stress unto itself.

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