Sunday, September 7, 2008

Writers Write

How many times have we heard it? Writers write. Every day.

When you go to conferences or read “how-to” books, this phrase appears and is repeated and enunciated as if this is the missing line from the Sermon on the Mount.

A huge part of my soul rebels when I hear this. Lawyers don’t try cases every day. They get weekends. Teachers (some of the hardest working people I know) get holidays and summers away from students.

What is it about writers that we don’t get a day off?

When we read tales of other famous writers and how they accomplished their greatness, it seems inevitable that the words “he wrote every day, including holidays” crop up. Arrgh. What happened to the lazy (but successful) writers in this world?

I’ve come to the conclusion that very few exist.

So after years of thinking I’m never going to follow in the footsteps of the great and prolific, I had a little revelation. I don’t physically plant my backside in the chair every day. I can’t. I have a day job and a life that sometimes takes precedence. That’s the way it works. But even when I’m at my most stressed and busy (or maybe because I’m at my most stressed and busy) my mind is working…crafting stories, fine-tuning dialogue or just wandering to create the next wickedly hot sex scene I need to write.

But—and this is a huge but—having said this, we can’t use this as an excuse not to actually put the words on paper. I know dozens of “writers” who’ve never actually written a word. They research or craft plot lines or take classes on how to write. They like to say they are writers but getting the words to fill the screen can be hard work, and it’s not for the faint hearted.

So, while I’m not convinced that writers have to write every day, I do believe we have to write. That’s the compulsion in our brains that drives us to share our stories. When I’m particularly stressed, I find spending thirty minutes at my computer, working on my next werewolf tale, gives me a little peace.

And it reminds me what I really love…and that’s to write.

Have you found a particular schedule that works for you?


Lynn LaFleur said...

I try to write at least six days a week. I deserve one day to rest and watch football. :-) That's my own schedule, left over from the days when I had a full-time job. Now writing is my full-time job. I try to dedicate the same amount of hours to my writing as I did to my outside job. I don't always succeed, but I do try.

I agree that we need time off. A writer can't force the words or they won't be any good. A writer has to push away from the computer and do something else to clear out the cobwebs. I scrapbook. It's something I enjoy and it uses a different part of my creativity.


Morgan O'Reilly said...

Great Blog! And I agree, while it is not always possible to sit and write, the thought is always there. Even when on "vacation" my mind is working and taking in the scenery and wondering how I can use it in my next, or current, WIP.

Routine doesn't work, but writing with a writing buddy often does! An afternoon of working through a series of 30 minute challenges with 15 min breaks has resulted in more words on the page than anything else in a while. Those are the days when I feel the most satisfied with actual accomplishment.

Good thoughts there!

N.J.Walters said...

To be a writer, you write. Just because you don't do it everyday doesn't mean you're not a writer.

I try and write five days a week--like a regular job. I started giving myself Saturdays off when I realized I was still doing emails, promo, edits, etc...every day of the week. That's just not good for anyone.

Titania Ladley said...

***even when I’m at my most stressed and mind is working…crafting stories, fine-tuning dialogue or just wandering to create the next wickedly hot sex scene I need to write***

Same here. My husband always says he can tell when I'm plotting in my head or thinking about the next writing task I need to get done. We might be having dinner and drinks, and he says my eyes suddenly start to go all glassy. "Earth to Titania, Earth to Titania." LOL But writing is such a consuming, satisfying (though sometimes lonely) profession, it really is hard to shake it for a day. I do try to take at least one non-writing day a week,, *try* being the operative word here. *grin*


Angelia Sparrow said...

I write almost every day.
It may be just a sentence or a paragraph. I don't produce 1000 words/day every day.

Some days, I do take off. The words won't come. So I go watch an inspirational movie (usually starring Errol Flynn) and crochet a while. Or I read a while.

Even then, I'm still storing up ideas and pondering. I work a 50 hour week. 30 of it is spent driving. I spend a lot of drive time working out dialogue and plots.

Viv Arend said...

I started writing with the Nanowrimo challenge a year ago and it was a wonderful kick inthe pants to teach the 'write every day' lesson.

It's true though that taking the time to know what you're going to write can make the time at the computer fly a little faster when you do sit down.

I've found that I can write a good 1000 words a day if I like the story I'm working on... it just tells itself!