‘Write every day, or else’

Gurus tell us to write every day because that’s what professionals do. They point out that newspaper reporters and magazine feature writers have to write every day because that’s their job. The same is true if you write news releases, computer documentation, or advertising copy.

Since people working for hire have to write 9-5, those of us who are not working for hire are told we should also write every day, or else. That’s not a bad idea if you’re on deadline. But if you’re not, you have a choice.

I no longer feel guilty when I don’t write every day. At some point, I rebelled against the idea because I have a history of rebelling against almost everything. So, I write when I feel like it.

When I was in high school I read a lot of psychic how-to books. Some of these discussed automatic writing, wherein you go into a trance while holding a pen in your hand (or sitting at your keyboard) and when you wake up there’s an entire page of quality stuff. Jane Roberts (The Seth Material) did well at this.

I tried automatic writing. Didn’t work. First, I asked for news about the universe. Then I gave the spirits an idea for a novel and hoped they’d write it for me–moving my fingers on the keyboard at 120 words per minute. I never got that to work either.

The main reason I don’t write every day is because I don’t have anything to say. I’d rather read somebody else’s book than sit and stare at a blank screen all day hoping the next scene in my novel will mysteriously come to mind.

I have better luck writing when I feel like it. There’s no pressure then, no guru saying, “Malcolm, you need to turn out 500 fresh words per day (or else).” I’m sure my approach is wrong. If it is, you already know I don’t care.

Why can’t writers be left alone to do their own thing? Even if it isn’t efficient? Even if it looks unprofessional? That seems better to me than feeling guilty about not writing every day, or else.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

4 thoughts on “‘Write every day, or else’

  1. We’re always told we have to be professional, and professionals write every day, but then they need to. They are under contract. For the rest of us, the assumption is that if we act professional by writing every day and by treating our writing as a job, we will become professionals, but that simply is not true. Besides, writing should be more than a job — the jobber writers write like they are doing a job. Where’s the spark of brilliance, the deeper insights, the perfect turn of phrase that opens up our minds to a greater (or different) reality? Those only come from those who write when they feel like it.

    And anyway, you do write every day. Blogging is writing, too.

    1. Yes, blogging counts.

      Writing when I feel like it doesn’t mean I’m lazy, of course. It means knowing what I need to say, and that knowing springs from a lot of prompts and signs–some from research discoveries, others from mulling over the plot, etc. Staring at the screen seldom helps.

      1. Of course it doesn’t mean you’re lazy. The way I figure, if a person spends all his or her time writing, they don’t have anything to write about.

        It’s been a while since I’ve written fiction, but I’m getting to the point where I might actually want to write again. That, to me, is more valuable than writing when there is no reason to write.

        1. Wanting to write again is the first important step, I think. I didn’t work on my novel in progress much at all in 2019. But then as the new year began, I wanted to go back to it. New ideas began coming to mind. That’s how it goes with me. You, too, perhaps.

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