Square Peg in a Round Hole

>> Saturday, February 17, 2018

A few weeks ago, again, I got smacked (again) via FB with the mantra that "a writer writes every day, sits at a desk, pounds it out no matter how hard it hurts or they're lazy and/or liars" screed. Inspiration? Who needs it! Muses? Folly! Writer's block? Sheer laziness! Excuses! Horse manure! Treat it like a job, write even if it's awful or you're not really a writer. You can always fix it in editing and the very act of writing will inspire your writing. (I'm paraphrasing)

That seemed to inspire a few more posts over the next few days of the same theme (I hang with a lot of writers).

I don't write that way. No, I can't write that way. If I sit and force myself to write crap, not only will have such odoriferous crap that can be saved only by blow-torching my computer, my back brain (which does all my best creative writing) will go on vacation for months to teach me a lesson. I know. I've tried. My OCD will tell me I suck as a writer and can't move one step further until I fix (or torch) said writing. My extremely overcrowded list of priorities will go, "You have things that need to be done that are more important than the garbage you're generating." Most importantly, I will hate writing, and hate what I'm writing.

Now, let me stop and say, that this method genuinely works for some people, even some great literary artists. More power to them. More power to whatever method works for you, whether it's locking yourself on a beanbag chair with a tablet computer and a thermos of coffee in your closet to get away from distractions or sitting in your neighborhood cafe with a spiral notebook.

But it doesn't work for me. And I love writing. I write because I love it, knowing it will never make me rich, but I take the thousands of hours I squeeze from my overbooked schedule and devote it to writing because I love writing and love the end result of all that time and sweat and tears. I'm not willing to hate it so I can be a "real" writer. Thanks.

That's aside from the fact that, like most writers, I have a day job. And a family. And things that have to get done that aren't writing related, so I write when I can and, at least in my case, when I'm inspired because that means I'm carving out time in my busy schedule doing something that makes me happy and excited. That will give me a product I love. I will not apologize for it.

I have had dry spells and likely will again, often in times of considerable stress or when overwhelmed in my non-writing world. I have fought my way back every time not because I'm a "professional" but because I love writing.

So, I won't apologize and don't expect anyone to apologize for whatever method works for them. Because, and I feel this strongly, the real criteria to be a "real writer" is your product. And I don't care if you wrote your masterpiece dangling upside down from the ceiling in Grand Central Station or write only for three hours a month under the light of the full moon. No one who produces good writing is anything less than a "real" writer.

In fact, I find pushing to find one's voice to be better advice (though I have one and managed to do everything noted here on my own when I was a kid without a particular plan). Better advice for me, I should say because we are not all the same. The uniqueness of our experiences is why writing is so diverse. Why in the world would we think writers should all be the same but somehow produce unique products?

And (reminding folks that, if the "every day at the desk" method works for you, DO IT), this notion that we have to produce product, so much daily, like a craftsman, should not negate the crazy unpredictable flurry of insane activity of the occasional artist. I absolutely agree that craftsman tend to be paid better and more consistently. But we remember the artists centuries later.

One last note. Many of us labeled as "lazy" are working in non-visible ways. And it shows in our end products. Much like this.


  • Louise Sorensen

    Agreed. I write when I can, around scheules and duties and chores. It must be nice to be able to sit down for long periods of time and write. When not writing, one can advance a story by thinking about it. Sometimes I put myself to sleep at night envisioning the next scence in a current wip. It is tiresome to hear people say, you're not a writer unless you write every single day. Denigrating. And sounds the same to me as someone who says, copy and paste this if you're really my friend. Where do people get off with these pronouncements? Tiresome. Write on.

  • A.D.Trosper

    This!!!!! So much this!

    Also, I write the same way you do for the exact same reasons and I'm so freaking tired of the "write everyday" crap.

  • Stephanie Barr

    I felt like someone had to say something.

  • Dellani Oakes

    I'm fortunate that I don't work outside the home. Still, I don't write every day, unless I feel inspired to write. That doesn't mean that I'm not working on my craft. If I'm not writing, I'm reading through other of my books, editing. Considering I have over 100, that's a lot of reading. I gradually edit, catching mistakes I've missed on other readings, or change things up a bit. If I wrote every day, even when I wasn't feeling it, I would be writing unusable crap. For me, it's more important to spend the time on something worthwhile, rather than wasting it on garbage. I don't write for writing's sake. There is a lot more to writing than just the actual typing of the tale. As Louise said, you have to spend time thinking about it. I haven't written much in days, I just haven't felt like it. I have, however, been reading through my older stuff, and enjoying the stories again. I set myself a goal of finishing a book a month (as I have over 50 that aren't done), but if I don't get one done this month, I won't cry. I've written a couple short stories. I think that's good enough. Also, I can crank out a 50+ book in 4 days, if the mood strikes, so hell with this "not a real writer" crap. It makes about as much sense as me saying, "If you can't write 56,427 words in 4 days, you aren't a real writer." It holds as much validity and merit.

  • Zain

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