I’ve had a few thoughts recently towards that number one piece of advice that I get from all angles when I ask about (or google, or read…) writing. What is the one thing I can do to improve my own writing? That advice is…just keep writing. Don’t worry if it’s crap. Just keep writing. In one form or another this is the one piece of advice that is offered. It’s offered as a “tool” to improve whatever area of writing that you/I/whoever is having problems with from plot to character to dialogue.
This writing advice is so full of itself you can smell it a mile away. Why? Because the automatic response to this should be “no duh!” You want to write? Then you write. Period. Make the time for it and don’t let yourself get distracted when you are writing. Un-plug the telephone, turn off the TV (unless, like me, you can’t write without noise), and don’t answer the door. Just keep writing. If I want to be a writer, I need to write every single day. I love to write, so of course I’m going to. In my original post, I said I was following a 30 day writing challenge. It wasn’t about finishing a novel in a month (although that would be great). It was about the number one advice. Write every day. Write till I’m sick of it. That’s what the challenge was about…to keep writing.
If this advice is full of itself, why make a challenge to do exactly that? Because it also has merits. Who hasn’t been distracted to no end by Facebook, the TV, or anything else and let time slip away? Who hasn’t made excuses to not write? Who hasn’t been, at least once in their life, been stuck with writer’s block? I believe that you would be hard-pressed to find one writer who hasn’t been stuck with at least one of the above mentioned “blocks” to writing. I was one of those writers. I told myself that I needed a “day job” and I had to go to school, and I must have time with family and friends. I told myself I didn’t have the time to write. Then it happened. I graduated, thereby losing my “day job” as a student worker. I had no job, no school and still didn’t find the time to write. I got sucked into my TV shows, I started exercising every day, and looking for a more permanent job. And yet I still called myself a writer. Because the one thing that really brings me joy despite my circumstances is writing. But I wasn’t doing it. So the number one piece of advice, perhaps, should always be number one. Write. Write what you love. Write what challenges you. Write and don’t stop. That’s what the challenge was about. It’s day 22 in the 30 day challenge and it will start all over again with the month of July.
So maybe, that advice doesn’t suck as bad as it first seems. But how does this advice reflect on revisions? Revising is perhaps the hardest thing I do. If I’m in my writing groove, and it’s flowing like a river, why would I want to revise it? After all, just keep writing right? This advice suggests, to me, that you need to finish something. It’s all very well and good to have a project and call yourself a writer. But if you can’t finish it, what good is it? Keep writing. Don’t look back, and don’t worry if it’s crap. Push yourself and give yourself a deadline to finish. Then set it aside. Rinse. Repeat. I have several novels in the works. Yet it’s the one scene, the one I can picture clearly in my head, and when I read what I’ve written all I see is failure. So I rewrite. And I rewrite. I need to push past it, and yet, somehow I can’t. I get stuck on the one scene that haunts me day and night until I get sick of the novel and set it aside thinking I’m never going to make it as a writer. If I follow this advice, it suggests me to not dwell on what isn’t perfect. There’s time for that later. I can polish it till it gleams like the sun…after its finished. First, to have a novel, it must be finished. Don’t worry about the grime that clings to my words right now.
Even better, it seems, is how fast the words accrue if you write everyday. I have averaged 2,000 words a day. Whoa. I’m not even counting the blogs. That means, if I keep this up, I’ll have written 60,000 words this month. That’s half a novel! And if you keep it up for a whole year? More than 700,000 words! That’s several novels…and well more than half-way to the “million words” of crap. This may be the best advice ever.
Yeah, maybe this advice sounds a bit obvious. So let me say it my way.
Write. Now. Don’t let anything, even writer’s block, stand in your way.
~Following the wind to places unknown.