A couple of months ago I made a resolution to write a little bit every single day, even when I really really didn’t want to, and even when what I wrote sucked and I ended up feeling more frustrated than I did before I sat down to write. I made up my mind that I was just going to do it, because I believe a.) people who whine about writers block are pussies and b.) if you are a writer, you write.
I didn’t blog about this resolution because I always break the first rule of resolutions, which is tell everyone so you have accountability. Anyways.
I allowed myself to count pretty much anything as writing: a few sentences scribbled in my purse notebook or tapped out on my iPhone or truly illegible 2 a.m. scrawlings in my bedside notebook. What doesn’t count: Facebook, Twitter, work. One of my sources of #feelings is that I write hundreds, sometimes thousands of words every day and barely any of it is something I would count as writing-because that stuff doesn’t sharpen the saw, so to speak — and if anything it makes me worry that if I do it enough I’ll forget how to write the things I really love to write.
I used to be a upchucking writer, someone who got an idea at 3 in the morning and sat down and dumped an entire (very, very rough and poorly written) story onto the page. I’d only do this occasionally and then edit for weeks.
That hasn’t happened in a long time. I have several things that I really like (probably too much, murder your darlings etc.) that I have been burnishing obsessively for too long, with an eye on starting to send them around. That’s mostly what I do when I sit down to write lately, that or work on one story I love/hate, or just writing down dreams that seem like they’re meaningful when I start writing and end up sounding like a fucking Smiths song once I have it on the page. Or writing down weird things people do, or things I saw during the day. I know for a fact that this stuff is essential, because a lot of it works its way into my fiction eventually, but so much of it feels like bullshit poser Moleskine scribbling and not work. It feels really rare that I sit down and pour out pages of writing
But today I got a real idea, the way I used to, and I wrote the whole outline down immediately on my phone. That note saved on my phone is feels like one of those chips they give people in AA: 2 months sober. 2 months of writing every single damn day whether you feel like it or not. Here’s the reward: it’s not a lot, but it’s better than what you started with.
(I’m not a big inspirational quotes person but Steve Jobs’ advice “Real artists ship” is important and lately I feel like I need to write this somewhere in giant letters and make myself see it every day. Ideas are just ideas until you do the work.)