Write *Something* Every Day

Writers write. It’s as simple as that. Good writers tend to write a lot. That’s a big part of how they became “good” writers. If you aspire to become a writer, or if you’re already a writer and you want to improve your craft, the only way to ensure you’ll make progress is to put your butt in a chair and your fingers on a keyboard.

That alone isn’t a magical solution. You won’t learn proper techniques for grammar, punctuation, or anything else. But if you do some actual writing, you might just get your story out of your head and into some format that will allow you to work on it even more later. The important part — usually the hardest part — is writing down the tale that’s been needling you for the past few weeks, months or even years. The story sure as hell won’t tell itself! You have to do it. 

While this is certainly true of fiction, it’s absolutely true of memoir. You’re the only one who knows your story the way you do. As simplistic as that sounds, I’ve talked to people who are perfectly capable of telling their own story, but they complain that ghostwriters cost too much. Here’s a thought: write it yourself!

The reasons people toss off for why they aren’t writing are absolutely legion. “I’m too busy” is a great favorite. Most of the too-busy people I know, myself included, are too busy because we’re lousy at organizing our time. Find a half hour a day — morning, noon or night, it doesn’t matter — and set it aside as writing time.

Another one I just love to hear: “I’m waiting for inspiration.” Right. Like the Muse or the Goddess of Literature is going to appear to you in all their radiant glory and whack you upside the head with the inspiration stick. What a crock. Remember Thomas Edison’s take: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” (Right now I’m channeling the Muse ripping into someone’s gray matter to whisper something inspiring.)

Yet another favorite is, “I don’t have a place to write, a place all my own — a hideaway, a garret, or a cell in a monastery — where I can work undisturbed.” Seriously? How ’bout the back seat of your car, or a table for two (you and your laptop) at the nearest Starbucks? They’ll even provide free Wi-Fi, not that you’ll need it because you’ll be busy working on your masterpiece. You won’t have time for Solitaire, or Facebook, or E-mail, or Amazon, or any of the other bazillion distractions provided by the web.

“Who’s gonna watch my kids?” I dunno, maybe your spouse? Your next door neighbor? The grandparents? Check local churches for a “Mother’s Morning Out” program, even if you’re a dad. Worst case: load up the car — or a wagon, or a city bus — with kids and laptop, and cruise over to the local playground, or the schoolyard, or some other place where the little ones might be able to entertain themselves while you sneak in a half hour of creative “me” time.

What you need to be striving for is the habit. Write every day, even if what you write isn’t part of your magnum opus. It could be a blog, or a journal, or a rant to the editor of the local newspaper. It could be a letter to your dear, old Aunt Edna for that matter. Whatever. Just do some writing every day that isn’t required for your job. It must be writing that comes from inside you.

Why? Because that’s where the magic begins. That’s where the stories live. It’s your job to find a way to get them out and share them with the world.

–Josh

PS: And lest I forget… Congratulations to the Auburn Tigers for their stunning win over archrival, and formerly #1 ranked, Alabama. War Damn Eagle! 

 

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
This entry was posted in editing, Historical writing, Memoir, novel writing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Write *Something* Every Day

  1. dorisreidy says:

    True words. My motto is “just get it on paper.” Your classes are great practice for that.

  2. From your mouth to our ears. Wise words. Thank you.

  3. Susanne says:

    Still not there but working on it. Does editing count as writing? *sigh*

  4. Betty says:

    I’ve lost the habit but plan to renew it.

  5. An-l says:

    I needed this scolding! I could name a few other reason not to be writing, but I will just take the scolding and promise to get back to writing daily soon.

  6. pcartist says:

    If you have five minutes, you can write, just as I do when I paint. When I walk by the canvas, I add yellow there and blue here. Eventually, my masterpiece is finished. Reluctantly of recent, I
    started reading Facebook posts. Trapped in a body that refuses to obey me, I looked towards what my mind and stylus can discover. As you know, I don’t lack from an opinion, a comment on FB post is the perfect means for my editorial spirit. For the more I read, the more I think, and through this engagement of ideas, I began to write. Writing everyday is like breathing. I put no restrictions or any subject off limits, outside of being called for dinner. After the years I sat in class and read your blog, I finally can say Eureka! My smartphone, stylus and mind is all that is needed. The more I write, the more I write, the more I write. I have a plethora of ideas each day. The comments section allows me plenty of opportunities to exchange thoughts, opinions and laughter. I was once called a FB stalker, a not so nice way of saying, I read rarely; my timeline, comments and especially the section, “what’s your status?” Amazingly to me, I have been asked if I have a blog. In closing, thank you for your patience. For me to realize it begins with one word. One word a sentence. A sentence becomes a paragraph. A paragraph can become….

  7. pcartist says:

    Yes, I found the improper tenses. I see my mistakes after I press send. I wish I could edit, but this time I will fall on my stylus for the moment.

  8. charmayne b. richardson says:

    I have been so busy trying to change my genre from romance to mystery or science fiction I have been squeezing my heart instead of the gentle massage she requires. I do not have to change, just write. I thank you and my copy of “Songbird” by Barbra Streisand thanks you. charmayne

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