Two weeks ago I discussed writing slow, a process often touted against but which I believe has merit. I decided to continue that theme with a post about other rules you can safely ignore.
There are important rules in writing, of course. Lots of rules are well-founded and should definitely be followed. What I don’t support is the attitude some authors have about these Rules with Capital R’s, the ones they shout from their desk with a zealously pointed index finger. “YOU. BAD AUTHOR. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”
Let’s start with the one I see pushed most aggressively: Write every day.
This is a great system for some authors. They like having a habit they can stick to that keeps their creative wheels constantly turning. If it works for you, great! What I don’t support is wagging your finger at other writers for not doing it your way.
I don’t think I could explain this better than Daniel José Older in his post, Writing Begins with Forgiveness. This is a superb article on how flogging yourself for not keeping up to speed hinders your productive output more than helps it. What is a perfect way to block creativity?
In Daniel’s words…
Shame lives in the body, it clenches our muscles when we sit at the keyboard, takes up valuable mental space with useless, repetitive conversations. Shame, and the resulting paralysis, are what happen when the whole world drills into you that you should be writing every day and you’re not.
The “write every day” adage comes from a good place. Don’t wait around for your muse, grab it by the horns. Creativity is a muscle – maintain it and it stays strong, neglect it and it atrophies. The adage makes sense. BUT…
BUT BUT BUT…
Yelling at writers to do this and guilting them when they don’t, or guilting yourself, does nothing but hurt. Regularity is good but self-bullying and thwacking your own wrists will stop your creativity dead in its tracks. Guilt breeds self-loathing. Self-loathing does not motivate.
A fantastic blogger, Nik Eveleigh, gave this comment on my post about slow writing which perfectly sums up the issue:
There’s nothing worse than setting impossible targets and coming up short – writing confidence is always a fragile thing so why smash it on your own before you’ve even begun?
Well said, Nik!
So, no, you actually don’t need to write every day. Write on a schedule that works best for your life, your temperament, your energy. Write in whatever way keeps you writing and makes you feel GOOD about writing. As I said earlier, for you that might mean writing every day, and that’s fine. It might mean something else, and that’s fine. I don’t write every day but I do write regularly and frequently, and I’m so glad I found a groove that fits. Before, I was always beating myself up for not writing “enough,” which just made me write less! When you remove guilt from the equation, suddenly writing becomes something you want to do, and therefore you’ll do more of it.
So writers? QUIT BULLYING OTHER WRITERS. Seriously. Just stop.
Next week I’ll talk about other rules you can totally break. Check back next Tuesday for more quality rebellion!
Tell me, how do you feel about the “write every day” rule?