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