Write on Wednesday asks: Do you make time to write every day? Don’t you think everybody should?
I used to not write every day. My excuse was that I had a full-time job, and there was no point in writing only an hour before work, an hour was nothing. And when I got home from work I was burned out, and there was no point in writing while burned out, I said, because the writing would be awful and I’d just trash it anyway. I could write on weekends, I told myself. That would be enough.
Then I’d have stuff to do on weekends, friends to see. Next weekend, I’d tell myself. Soon.
And years passed. My manuscripts took forever to finish—if getting too discouraged to continue and stowing them in the closet counts as “finished.” I did not get a book published. My successes were successes, sure, but they felt like small successes because they didn’t fulfill the so-called Dream. Not to worry, I told myself. I have time. Soon, I’ll quit my full-time job and have time to write. Just wait, I told myself, it’ll be awesome!
Then this argument began to falter. I need a job. The time I have is the time I have and wouldn’t change anytime soon. I found a sense of urgency. I think it came—and stings, to this day—seeing all the successes of my MFA classmates. They are the ones in magazines, on bookshelves, at readings, having reached the Dream. And somehow I got left behind. I’m not trying to be jealous—I’m excited for many of them, especially ones I read in workshop and believed in. But I wonder how I’ve messed up, why I can’t make it happen, why I got close but couldn’t cross the line.
The answer for me had to be writing. Writing more. Writing every day.
So here I am today. Writing is urgent for me now, it’s something I can’t live without. It’s not just that I have a deadline—know, though, that I sought out this deadline, I pitched for a book knowing I’d have a short time to write it. It’s not about deadlines, real or imagined. It’s about the Dream, that fantasy, that impossibility, and being unable to let it go. I blame myself for every failure: I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t write the right thing. I didn’t write enough. I didn’t write every day. And, yet, as I pursue this fantasy, my writing has moved beyond that line in the sand I am desperate to cross. My writing doesn’t care about the line. I write because I love it. A day in which I write is a good day. Writing, simply put, just makes me happy.
Now I try to write every single day. I’ve told you here how I get up early in the mornings before my day job and write—I usually get in a good two hours. I do it first thing so it can’t be taken from me later. It literally and figuratively comes first. The best part of my mind goes to the writing and everything else that comes after can get what’s left. And I write on Saturdays and Sundays too. I am afraid to give myself a free day. In truth, I don’t want a free day. I want to write—or try to write. If only it came out just when I sit myself down with this laptop. So, really, I should say, I try to write every day. I have to try.
And I’ll admit: there are days I don’t write. Sometimes I don’t feel good. Sometimes I sleep late. And those days only make me want to write all the more, because I feel terrible guilt. I feel like I may have missed something, which is probably very true.
Now the other question… don’t I think everybody should write every day? If you’re serious about being a writer, I do think a commitment helps. Some people are just lucky: They write one story over a weekend and it all falls into place from there. Good for them. I’m not as lucky—so much of what I’ve gotten came from hard work, so I expect if I want more I should work harder. That’s what I’m doing. I’m writing this book, and I am happy to have the opportunity, but what I really want has not yet been granted. I may never get it, and I realize this. But I don’t want to look back and blame myself for slacking anymore.
I am going to continue trying to write every day—even after I meet this deadline, even when no one is watching. Will you?