I don’t know if that’s corny or profound, but I’m pretty sure it’s something my Father said, so I’ll go with profound. A determined, if small-scale, investor, Dad never bought a stock he hadn’t thoroughly investigated. And though he started long before I ever even thought about buying stock for myself–50 years ago, at least–he believed his most trusted adviser was the guy he had to look at in the mirror every morning.
So, what does this have to do with writing? Only everything.
You say you’re a writer, right? Or, at the very least, you want people to think of you as a writer. You’re also the one who looks at the person in the mirror every morning, no? Okay, so the next time you see that person, ask this: “Did you write anything yesterday?”
If the answer is “No,” it might be time for some soul-searching. How many times in the past week was the answer the same? If you run out of fingers on one hand while you’re counting, there’s a problem. Unless you were sick, or tied up with something that kept you away from your project from the instant the alarm went off until the moment you dropped exhausted into bed, then I suspect you’re *not* a writer.
You may have been one, once. Maybe recently. But if you’re not writing now, consistently, day after day–at least a little bit–then you’re only someone who thinks about writing, or perhaps talks about writing, or even teaches writing. But you’re not a writer.
I can hear the howling from my writer friends now. But if the howling is aimed at me, they have the wrong culprit in mind. Sorry guys, but the truth is: writers write.
The late, great, Harper Lee was a writer, once. And just about as good a writer as we saw in the whole 20th century. But she stopped writing. Shortly after the stunningly successful To Kill A Mockingbird came out, she ceased to be a writer.
I say that, because I truly believe writers actually write. Every damned day. That doesn’t mean they have to write reams and reams of stupendously wonderful stuff daily, non-stop, ignoring holidays, hangovers, and hellish weather. But “real” writers work at their craft, at least a little bit, constantly.
If you’re working on a memoir, force yourself to write something. Every day. Maybe all you can manage is a single sentence. Fine. Write that sentence. Maybe the next day you’ll have time for more. But get that one precious sentence down. I promise you won’t regret it.
It’s far easier to find excuses for not writing than it is to find the courage to actually sit down and record your words. Just do it. There will be days when you hate the thought of writing, and what you actually write may be 100% crap–utterly uncompromising drivel. So what? Just keep on. Tomorrow’s work will be better, and yesterday’s probably won’t look so bad.
You may not ever become the writer you want to be, but if you don’t write, you’ll never even get close. The only way to realize that dream is to work at it. Every day.
Don’t stop until it’s done. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Ever.